Roaster Spotlight

Social Coffee & Tea Company - Richmond Hill, ON


"A lot of sweet cherry and blackberry flavors notes. A very well balanced and juicy body."

Juiciness is this brew. However, the superb washing at the Mahembe washing station allows it to be juicy, clean, structured and free of an obnoxious overly fruity taste that some coffees described as “juicy” can tend to be. The complex berry flavours and citrus tones will leave your tongue intrigued yet satisfied as the flavor profile is a medium intensity. Delicate and soft finish to this Rwandan.

PRODUCER: Various small-holders

REGION: Nyagatare, Rwanda

ELEVATION: 1700-1900m

VARIETY: Bourbon

Coffee production in Rwanda has been rather ordinary in the past – farmers had been much more focused on quantity instead of quality. It wasn’t until the year 2000 when things started to improve and Rwandan coffee began privatizing. The private business incentives led to the first private washing station being developed in 2002, and a fully traceable container of high-end coffee was exported in 2003. This was the start.

Justin Musabyiama owns the Mahembe washing station in Rwanda which he started in 2010 on his Fathers coffee plantation. He is very interested in carving out his own quality coffee niche in the area and has taken great pride in his work. Intense parchment hand-sorting before sun-drying and thoroughly sorting coffee during the drying to reduce the potential of defected coffee beans are a two of the extra steps that are taking place at this washing station.

This washed coffee is wet fermented for 10-12 hours, graded and sun dried for up to 21 days. During the washing however, only 70% of the mucilage is stripped from the pulper, which helps impart more of those juicy notes that this coffee is bringing forward in the cup.

"A lot of sweet cherry and blackberry flavors notes. A very well balanced and juicy body."


Most ambitious coffee lovers start a specialty coffee roaster with the intention of providing drinkers with a delicious cup of coffee. Once you take it a step further and analyze the other angles of the ventures’ options some major decisions have to be made. One of the most interesting perspectives to focus on is accessibility. Steve Souphanthong, owner & roaster at Social Coffee & Tea is focusing on this aspect so his consumers can discover more coffees, without the higher price tags.  

“I don’t need to be flying down to cup coffee where they could as well just ship me the coffee. Spending 4-5 thousand dollars and bring up the cost of coffee so high – for us on a small scale it doesn’t make sense” he explained to us.

By being more fiscally responsible, more can be given back to the customer & at the same time more back to the farmer. However, it’s important to note that sourcing isn’t over looked; often working with someone in the region whom can cup the coffees and provide their feedback. Based on Social Coffee Roasters’ track record at competitions, clearly this methodology isn’t hampering quality.

The San Sebastian (August Issue)

"It’s got that deeper, darker fruit – typical of Colombia. What I like is the acidity is really nice, it’s clean, sweet and stands out in the finish."

PRODUCER:Multiple farmers

REGION: Cauca, Colombia


VARIETY: Caturra, Colombia and Castillo


This coffee is from the region of Cauca - a state in Columbia on the western part of the country. Farmers in the region have very small plots of land – 6 acres on average. This coffee is a blend of many farmers from the same region hence the multiple varietals and wide range of elevation. Interestingly enough, this blend consistently maintains some fantastic tasting notes with the juicy fruits, prominent honey & a really nice lingering finish.

“To me I love the way that coffee works. It shows that you don’t always have to do micro-lots to get the same quality of micro-lots… So you can get a big region blend that can taste as good. To me that also shows more cost effective way of doing things and getting the same quality” explains Steve Souphanthong.

Award Winning

To name a few, Social placed 1st in the Roasters Choice Competition Specialty Coffee Association of America (2012), 1st in the World Roasters Cup Competition (2011), 1st in the Coffee Review Canadian Roaster (2011). And this is just a few of their accolades – the list goes on. The folks at Social are doing a lot of things right with their methodology that can be summed up well by their slogan “Glorious coffee for the people”. Glorious indeed!