Hailing from rural Kentville, Nova Scotia, Curtis Durocher, the owner of Fullstrong Coffee Roasters, took an unusual path to get into roasting coffee. Initially a bobsledder and a Highland Games participant, Durocher has only been roasting coffee full-time for a few years. We caught up with Durocher to hear how he went from throwing trees to roasting beans.

-How did you get into roasting coffee?

In 2016, while I was living in Calgary, I began roasting from home on a handcrank popcorn maker. I would buy green coffee from Rosso Coffee Roasters; I was obsessed with coffee from Rosso and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. I had no computer assistance when I began roasting, I was just listening and smelling, and I did that for years.

Previously I had been in track and field, and I had moved to Calgary to be a bobsledder. I then transitioned to Highland games. It originated in Scotland so I would wear a kilt and throw a big tree. It’s similar to wrestling in that you are entertaining the crowd more than anything.

But, in 2018 I got injured and had to retire as an athlete. I had also been working as a personal trainer so I had to find something else I was passionate about and it turned out to be coffee. My real motivation was having my daughter and moving to Nova Scotia. I just decided to go full blast into roasting coffee.

-What is your roasting profile?

I sell a lot at farmers’ markets and my most popular coffee is a Sumatra dark roast. A lot of my clientele are people who are used to drinking Starbucks or Tim Horton’s coffee. I want to transition them into liking higher-end coffee but I need something that is user-friendly to do that. I roast some really beautiful light roast coffees but only for a specific clientele. In general, I think I am the bridge between high-end coffee and people that have typically been drinking instant coffee. It’s a very different scene in rural Nova Scotia; if I just sold high-end coffee I would be out of business.

-What is your coffee sourcing ethos?

It has to be organic and it has to be fair trade. I like to go to the country and meet the farmers. I went to Guatemala and was able to talk to some farmers there. I noticed that their coffee didn’t say organic and they explained to me that they could not afford to put that on the label.

Price isn’t my main concern; what I want to know is if it’s helping the farmer. And I want to buy unique and special coffee. If I bring in average coffee then I am not able to compete with larger roasters that are bringing in the same product. I need something that can stand out. So, I like to source coffees that have interesting processing methods, like this honey-processed Honduran.

Coffee featured in Issue #12

In the Classic & Approachable Pack


• A honey-processed Honduran with tasting notes of maple syrup, caramel and cinnamon.

November 06, 2022 — Zara Snitman

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