July 2017 saw the Broadway area welcome Venn Coffee Roasters. Tucked in behind Amigos, this coffee shop offers more than just great espresso and Norwegian-inspired pastries.
Venn Coffee first appeared in local Saskatoon businesses like The Night Oven Bakery and The Hollows. Venn is not Saskatoon’s first local roaster, nor its first third-wave-style roaster, but they definitely do things differently.
Characterized by small-batch, single-origin and light roasts, third-wave-style coffee seeks to elaborate upon the coffee experience. By connecting consumers to the producers of their coffee and by showcasing the full flavour potential of the beans themselves, craft and complexity enter our morning ritual.
Casey Loseth, co-owner and operator of Venn Coffee Roasters spoke to the Sheaf via email about the positive impacts that he hopes Venn can have.
“If I can do good by someone, then I’m happy. Whether I’m viewed as trendy or popular or not, it’s more important for me to be able to promote good living for people. This all applies to coffee, too. Everything I do is to showcase the work the farmers put into the coffee. I just simply try to not ruin that,” Loseth said.
The shop itself is bright and minimal in almost every way. Venn’s white walls are adorned with a mural of floating mountains painted by Saskatoon artist Vanessa Postnikoff, known by @thefourthcup on Instagram. One of their most visually grabbing pastries, called tebirkes, is a flaky Danish treat wrapped around almond paste and covered in poppy seeds. From the esthetics, the pastries and the name of the shop — venn being Norwegian for friend — a Scandinavian influence is felt throughout. This clean atmosphere leaves ample room for the real star of the show — the coffee beans.
By reading the labels on the bags, one can see the exact regions in which the beans are grown. These regions include Santander in Colombia, Tarrazu in Costa Rica and Gedeb in Ethiopia.
Twenty dollars gets you a 12-ounce bag and a complimentary espresso, a little more money for a little less coffee than your standard Starbucks pickup.
Besides the subjective flavour improvements, Loseth believes in the power of conscious coffee consumption as a way for positive change.
“Right now, on a socially conscious and fair coffee farm in Guatemala, a harvester would make $8 for that 200 pounds of cherry he picked. Simply being willing to pay more for coffee — or not accepting free refills — can mean elevating entire communities out of poverty,” Loseth said.
With their more direct trade model and single-origin roasting, Venn is able to provide information about the social and environmental impact of any coffee you buy from them. This information is shown on their website.
“Not only does coffee have the potential to be so socially positive, it also has an amazing possibility to be truly sustainable, and not just carbon neutral, but to be environment repairing,” Loseth said.
Loseth goes on to explain that quality coffee is one industry that is usually socially positive.
“Good coffee, and by that I mean specialty coffee — which accounts, at the moment, for only the top 10 per cent of all coffee traded — must, for quality’s sake, be grown under diverse circumstances,” Loseth said. “If you’re growing specialty coffee, then you are growing a rainforest, which means healthy soil and animal habitat. All of these things make it really easy to be excited about working in coffee. In other industries, often, the only way to be happy in a job is to turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the man.”
As Loseth explains, some extra effort is required to reap the full benefits of Venn coffee. “It’s about slowing down, enjoying life and appreciating things. It sounds dumb, but I really believe it. A simple, thoughtful life is more fulfilling than a rushed, complicated one and is generally healthier and longer lasting, too,” Loseth said.
Not convinced? Go try it. Venn is located at 830 Dufferin Avenue. Your taste buds — and caffeine addiction — will all but command you to welcome the thirdwave of coffee roasting into your home.
Photo: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor