Q&A With Curtis Durocher of Fullstrong Coffee Roasters
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.