Jeremy Perkins has has been in specialty coffee for 22 years. Originally owning a cafe in the UK, we chatted with Perkins about how coffee culture in the UK differs from Canada and what it's like roasting coffee in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. 

-How did you first get into roasting?

I have been in specialty coffee for 22 years. I opened a coffee shop called Coffeevolution in 2000. When I first started, we weren’t roasting our own coffee. We were buying the blends that were winning the barista championships which at the time, were dark and shiny beans.

In 2012, I went to Turkey, bought a roaster, and started roasting with my brother under the name Bean Brothers Coffee Co. We started to build up some wholesale accounts. At the time I was also doing my Ph.D. in music as a viola player. We always planned to eventually move to Canada, but when the Brexit vote came in we decided to leave right away. Between June 23rd, 2016 and September 1st, 2017, my wife and I sold everything and moved to Qualicum Beach, British Columbia - the retirement capital of the world! 

I wanted to continue working in coffee, so we decided to buy a cafe and work up from there. I initially lost out on French Press to another buyer. But a few weeks later the realtor called me up and asked if I still wanted the place. Turns out the people who bought it had never run a cafe before and didn’t realize how much work it was.

-How does the coffee scene in Canada differ from the UK?

Canada has been behind the UK, and Vancouver Island is behind the rest of Canada. In Victoria and Vancouver, there is a great coffee scene. But north of Victoria, it’s more challenging. There are some really great places like Drumroaster Coffee; they have done a great job on the island.

Community-wise it’s more inclusive in Canada. But, competition-wise the opposite is true; the competition is a lot stiffer in Canada. In the UK, people would show up for Barista competitions completely unprepared and you can’t do that here.

People have been responsive to the coffee in Qualicum Beach. Customers sometimes say it took them a couple of days to get used to the lighter roast but now, they can’t go back to what they were drinking before. Also, the demographic is changing here. A lot more young people are moving here because the house prices are much cheaper than in Vancouver. There is an appetite for specialty coffee here and we get lots of converts.

-What are your plans for the future?

We are moving the roastery to a bigger location and we are going to expand our bakery. I am inspired by places like Proud Mary which is an Australian-based company that opened a location in Portland. The owner, Nolan Hirte, once said, ‘the competition is so fierce in Australia it’s easier for me to open up a place on the other side of the world.’ They serve high-end restaurant food in their cafe, it’s a bit of a revelation. At French Press, we try to focus on the food too and with the new bakery, we want to expand our menu.


Coffee featured in Issue #11

In the Light & Adventurous Pack

RMR Filter Blend

• A blend of coffees from Ethiopia and Burundi with tasting notes of lime, grape and black tea. 


October 21, 2022 — Zara Snitman

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