In this week’s episode of Coffee Nation, we sit down with Alfonso Tupaz, the Founder at Hatch Coffee. Alfonso shares his specialty coffee story from the beginning, starting with the first time he ever roasted coffee on a makeshift roaster to setting up one of the first cold brew coffee production operations in Canada. We have included a transcript of the first five minutes for your reading pleasure, but if you’d like to hear the rest of our first podcast, you can find it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, Deezer, and Youtube.
Intro: You’re listening to the Coffee Nation show by WE THE ORIGIN, this is a podcast that tells the story of coffee innovators and leaders who are pushing the boundaries of coffee as we know it. My name is Abbas Alidina, and I’m the founder at WE THE ORIGIN, where we solve coffee’s biggest problems with technology and innovation. We’re disrupting coffee supply chains, one farmer, at a time.
Abbas: Hello everyone and welcome to the Coffee Nation podcast brought to you by WE THE ORIGIN. Really excited to be here today with Alfonso, the founder at Hatch Coffee. Thank you Alfonso for hosting us here in your coffee roastery in Markham, Ontario. Super excited to be surrounded by all these cool coffee gadgets and all this awesome coffee, so thanks for having us.
Alfonso: Thanks for being here, looking forward.
Abbas: Yeah so you know as a coffee drinker as someone who loves specialty coffee, the coffees that you guys have are just absolutely phenomenal, and this is one of my go-to places when I want to discover new coffees, so I’m really intrigued to learn a bit more about the story of Hatch—
Abbas: —And answer any kind of history in the background of how you got started so you know it just kind of share with us the journey and how you got to where you are.
Alfonso: Sure, sure so it was started back, I guess I go all the way back to 2009/2010 when I started roasting coffee by hand when I was based in Africa. You know built a roaster from scratch, just trying to experiment and. You know that first batch of roasted coffee tastes amazing, and whether it was good or not, I don’t know.
Alfonso (continued): But it was definitely good to me and that’s kind of changed everything for me and from that point forward I knew I wanted to get into specialty coffee and in 2014, I had a chance to come back to Canada and start a business and I wanted to do something that I was passionate about, that’s coffee.
Alfonso (continued): So the whole 2014, I did plant design and then finding out, you know where we wanted to set up, ultimately I chose Markham and it’s been really good to us. I started a really nice facility here, bright lights and then eleven windows in the factory. 2015, we moved in start setting up and took us a good three months to build out all the equipment, another three months to work out the Kinks on the lines. 2016, first bottles, we’ll start with cold brew first, was running off the line, and we decided to kind of focus on cold brew for the first year.
Alfonso (continued): Just have to focus we’ve always been, we’ve always had this vision to be a full-service coffee roastery. But it’s hard to start as an upstart to just launch with a full product range right off the bat so we decided to focus which helped us out. by the end of 2016, we were national across Canada. So with it being in a comfortable position, with the cold brew we then shift focus back to coffee roasting. In 2017 we start our wholesale business, for roasting coffee. We’ve been doing that ever since. So kind of in backward regression, we built the plant first without selling any product. Six months later we started selling cold brew and then a year after that we started selling roasted coffee for wholesale and then last year, summer we launched our kind of a small cafe in the front. So little bit differently done and that sort of the, how we started.
Abbas: Yeah, I know this is inspirational because, like to see where you are today and like all the different lines of business like cold brew, roasted coffee, and now a cafe and then the bottling. So you really diversified and just the kind of see that you started when you were still living in Africa on the makeshift roaster that you put together is very inspirational right. And yet and it’s kind of your pursuit and your love of coffee that’s kind of driven you to to really pull this out.
Alfonso: Absolutely and, as fellow entrepreneurs will understand, when you build something out it’s so you would follow your passion. For me it was coffee and we all come from different backgrounds. Here with guys from IT, me from manufacturing, science background. And we all kind of connect the dots to create something that was different and unique here. And we all apply to this.
Alfonso: So yes.
Abbas: Yeah, I actually like the diversity of your team is wonderful and like I know a bunch of them like Boris, and Benny, and Josh so you got a lot of accolades on your team between them, with a Brewers Cup, third-wave coffee roasters, and you guys have won a lot of other accolades in competition so that speaks to the quality of the team you put together and the diversity. When I go around Toronto and I mention Hatch or mention the names of some of these folks—people like yeah, I know these guys like, and when you hear other coffee businesses and professionals saying good things about, you know, a coffee business, you know, that has some weight, so—.
Alfonso: Oh yeah, and it’s really, you know, thankful for the community and,you know, for something else and supporting us as well and, as we discussed earlier, that kind of the nice thing about —especially coffee community in Canada, is how supportive everyone else is of each other. They are only thankful and humble at the same time. We’ve only been around the selling coffee for, you know, three years in a bit, and to come this far and for people to like how we do coffee. Especially when we started there wasn’t a lot of roasters that were doing, you know, light roast of coffee which is what we’d like to do and now it’s—we’re able to experiment a lot of different things and from different origins, different variety processing methods, even down to our building operation, the community has been good, yeah.