I want to give a huge thank you to Not Even for participating in this interview. Not Even started up just last year in Toronto's West-End and they are doing some incredible things in the industry while roasting some amazing coffee. Keep reading below to learn more about who is behind the coffee at Not Even Coffee Roasters
BCB: Can you briefly introduce yourself to us?
Andrew: Hi! I’m Andrew, part owner of Not Even along with my partner in life Viktoria. I like coffee and dogs among other things.
BCB: What is your first memory of specialty coffee?
Andrew: Oof. First memory? Walking into Sam James Coffee Bar many many years ago as a someone who didn’t drink coffee. I ordered an espresso, which at the time was a natural Ethiopian espresso that tasted like a ripe blueberry. I thought I lost my mind, and then went back for another shot.
BCB: What did you do before you started Not Even?
Andrew: I studied philosophy in university, so naturally I ended up working in the coffee industry after graduating in 2016. I worked as a barista before moving to Berlin in 2017, and while living in Berlin I worked for Fjord Coffee Roasters.
BCB: How did you get into roasting coffee?
Andrew: I was never any good at latte art, so I started looking at how I could better apply my skills within the coffee industry. When I was hired at Fjord I was officially brought on as a “roastery assistant”. I was really keen to understand more about the process of coffee roasting, and learned a lot of theory from one of the owners of the company as well as the main production roaster. Eventually I was given more and more time on the roaster until one week I had to roast all the ordered coffee, as the rest of the team was in Colombia. Nerve wracking but it was a good learning experience!
BCB: I can see how that would be nerve-racking. I've found that sometimes being thrown to the wolves is one of the best ways to learn!
BCB: What are you passionate about outside of coffee?
Andrew: Music, friends, movies, parties, all things sensory including food and wine. Meeting people from all over the world with different outlooks and perspective. Travelling for all those things has been an incredible privilege. I also love dogs.
BCB: If you could change one thing in the specialty coffee industry, what would it be?
Andrew: There are a lot of things wrong in this industry, on all levels. If I had to pick one thing to change it would be exploitation. It is something that runs all the way down the supply chain.
BCB: Do you mind expanding on that for us?
Andrew: Throughout the whole supply chain we can find examples of exploitation. Farmers and producers are taken advantage of with low prices being paid for their coffee. Baristas are (in many places) underpaid and underappreciated. Something that is less spoken of is how much pickers are paid. In each point in the process of delivering coffee from farm to cup, there is a possibility for people & the natural environment to be taken advantage of. In order to ensure any sort of longevity in the industry, we have to do our best to stay informed. These issues are complex and it isn't always easy to know the right answer but it is important that we do our best.
BCB: What is one of your favorite things about the specialty coffee industry?
Andrew: I’m always fascinated with how the global community feels so small sometimes.
BCB: It's incredible that the specialty coffee community world wide is so tight knit.
BCB: Who is one person in the coffee industry that inspires you?
Andrew: My friend (and ex-coworker) Michał Sowiński constantly inspires me to learn more. His level of dedication to coffee is motivational and I respect him a lot.
BCB: How do you choose the coffees that you want to roast?
Andrew: We cup through a lot of coffees. We get samples of freshly harvested green and choose what we find most interesting. Then we put all the coffees we like together, cup those and then discuss how that coffee would work on a menu. We try building a menu that has spots for coffees that are always great in quality, but that have varying characteristics. Some of the coffees we purchase are more approachable, and others have been funky and out-of-this world competition level stuff. It’s fun to mix that up.
BCB: Agreed! I think it's very importanty to have coffees on either end of the spectrum. This will both satisfy people deep into specialty coffee while also welcoming people that are new to the wonderful world of specialty coffee.
BCB: What brewed/cupped coffee stands out to you most?
Andrew: Volcan Azul’s natural SL-28. It’s so complex and just checks all the boxes.