The Origin Story: Escape Coffee Roasters
Everyone who works in coffee has their own personal coffee origin story, be it through college cafe jobs, traveling to coffee-growing regions, or by trying a fruit-bomb Ethiopian for the very first time. We caught up with David Boucher, the Co-Founder of Escape Coffee Roasters, to find out more about what brought him into coffee.
"It all started back in 2002. When I was 19, I had no clue of what I would be doing in life – I guess like pretty much 80% of young adults. There's one thing I knew; I didn't want to follow the mentality of working hard to make more money, which clearly didn't make any sense to me. So I went on and travelled for about two years. My travels ended up bringing me to Australia - for the surf culture at first.”
“Right in front of the beach, a coffee shop called ‘Aromas café’ was looking to hire staff. I signed up, and my life soon turned to this: Surfing in the am, free coffee mid-day, back in the water by 4 pm. What else do you want, right? That was my first encounter with specialty coffee, and it was a revelation. Not like: ‘this is what I want to do in life,’ but more like: ‘wow, this is gooooood.’”
"Then, I came back to Quebec for University. Back to pretty bad coffee. So I invested in my home setup and started to look for good coffee around town. Following university, more travels, coffee farm visits in Laos, espresso in Italy, piccolo latte in Spain, coffee with condensed milk in Vietnam, latte in Bali, then back to New Zealand and Australia in late 2009 – again, blown away by the coffee. At that point, I was 27 years old and still didn't have a serious job. Just some marketing gigs here and there."
"I came back to Toronto in July 2010 and was responsible for the huge McDonald's new ‘arabica’ coffee tour across Ontario. I visited their roastery – which also roasts for 10-15 huge coffee brands. In October, I came back to Montreal for a marketing position in a big energy drink company, then got hired for a Boston helmet brand to take care of Canada."
"In all the big companies I worked for, one thing always annoyed me: profit was always the main driver. Environment and humans were 2nd, 3rd priority or worst. It didn't make sense to me. So I quit my corporate work in 2017 and started consulting in marketing. That's when two friends reached out, Josh and Marc. Marc had taken roasting classes in Vermont, and Josh's brother owned Escape Coffee in New Zealand. They knew I was deep into coffee too, and we started roasting (for fun) at night with a small 1kg roaster we bought. We installed it in Marc's kitchen, and we would meet to roast at night with some IPAs.”
“At the time, I was consulting for a hotel downtown that also owned a coffee shop; I became a partner at that cafe and asked the current roaster for better quality and greener packaging. He didn't have anything to offer. That's where all the dots connected, and we started Escape Coffee Roasters in North America. We can now put our values in order: planet, humans, and profit last."
“The company and our products are all certified carbon neutral. We now deliver everything on Montreal Island electronically with a Tesla Y model that has a trailer attached. We want to make sure our impact on the world is positive; that's why the company was created, and that’s still a core value. The business is growing, but our values are still the same.”
“We have added someone to the team that takes care of everything social and environmental within the company. She looks at every process, from hiring staff to relationships with producers and importers, to ensure all our relationships are nice and fair. And she does the same thing regarding the environment; she ensures we are environmentally friendly.”
“Regarding sourcing, we look at every producer partner and washing station and ensure we have a positive impact every time we buy coffee. We have contacts going on five years, and we want to continue growing our volume to those producers. We are still roasting at the Canadian Roasting Society, but we plan to open our own roastery this year.”