Manitoba

New coffee roastery to open in Exchange with Little Sister, Parlour owners at helm

Winnipeg is about to get a brand new coffee roastery courtesy of two café owners who’ve made a big name for themselves north and south of the border.

Nils Vik and Vanessa Stachiw partner with U.S.-based Dogwood Coffee for new roastery

Nils Vik (left) and Vanessa Stachiw (right) will co-own Dogwood Coffee Co. with the Minneapolis-based Dogwood Coffee USA and Gimili's Chad Ermel. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Winnipeg is about to get a brand new coffee roastery courtesy of two café owners who've made a big name for themselves north and south of the border.

Dogwood Coffee Co. will open in the Exchange District in early 2016 at Forth, a building being completely renovated to make way for a café, restaurant, art gallery, event space and cocktail bar.

Lisa Kehler Art + Projects gallery is already open in the building's basement, and a tech company is humming along upstairs.

Sandwiched in the middle will be the café, restaurant and roaster.
Lisa Kehler Art + Projects is already operating on the lower level of Forth. Soon, an event space, roastery, cafe, restaurant and cocktail bar will be added to the building. (Karen Asher Courtesy Lisa Kehler Art + Projects)

"It's a totally different ball game than a café," said Little Sister Coffee Maker owner Vanessa Stachiw. "We're so excited."

Stachiw will co-own the spot with her brother-in-law and Parlour Coffee owner Nils Vik, Gimli's Chad Ermel and Minneapolis-based Dogwood Coffee.

Stachiw, 28, opened her shop two years ago, with her only previous experience being a French literature degree and a lot of time working on the service side of cafes.

Vik has been at it longer. He opened Parlour four years ago, after a trip to Montreal gave him a peek into their cafes and roasteries.

"I was sort of fed up that every city I went to had these great things that I wanted in my city so I just quit and tried to do it," he said, adding that before he opened Parlour, he had no experience owning a business or even working in a café.

Four years later, he's got one of the most successful local shops, has helped open another with Stachiw, and the pair have networked with cafes and roasters all over the U.S. and Canada.

"Cafes and roasters – it is a small subculture. Everyone kind of knows each other. You know of the roasters. You've probably met them at some sort of event, but Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saskatchewan? Not getting too much attention," said Stachiw.
Builders are still installing equipment and sanding floors at the roastery, but Dogwood Coffee Co. has already had inquiries from across Canada, including from cafes in Squamish, B.C., and Ottawa, O.N. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

After a several-year-long friendship with the owners of Dogwood, who own several cafes and a roastery in Minneapolis, they came up with a plan to change that.

"[Dogwood USA] were getting lots of requests from Canadian cafes being like, 'Hey, can we get your coffee? We really like it,' and it's really tricky to bring in coffee from the States," said Stachiw. "We know this from Parlour and Little Sister too. Shipping is expensive, brokerage is expensive. It's also super unreliable, so that is not a sustainable relationship between a Canadian café and a U.S. roaster."

Around the same time they were in talks with Dogwood to get into roasting, their friends who owned the building at 171 McDermot were looking for tenants.

"Just on a whim, we were like, 'Hey, we want to put a coffee roaster in there. Want to roast?'" said Vik. "As far as we're aware we're only ones going to be right in the Exchange, downtown, which is pretty exciting to have a much more public presence, as opposed to just being in an industrial area."

B.C., Ontario cafes already want beans

Builders are still installing equipment and sanding floors at the roastery, but the company has already had inquiries from across Canada, including from cafes in Squamish, B.C., and Ottawa, O.N.

For now, though, they're focussing on the Winnipeg and Manitoba markets.

A number of local businesses are already planning on using their beans, including the soon-to-open Clementine breakfast spot in the Exchange and the new Blind Tiger speakeasy in south Osborne.

The roastery will have a training bar and cupping room, so baristas and business owners from Winnipeg and across the country can come in and learn how to make it, Vik said.

"We want to make sure the people who are receiving it are making it the best way possible," he said. "I think we're just really excited about just kind of showcasing roasting and allowing the public to come in and see that happen."

Stachiw and Vik are hoping to open the space in January.

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