By Jenn Watt
Oliver Zielke gets a charge when he thinks of people across the Highlands sipping coffee he roasted.
He imagines them in their homes and offices preparing for their day at work or enjoying a conversation with friends their minds lighting up with a hit of caffeine and their taste buds tingling with the fruity flavours of freshly roasted beans.
Imagining the role his product is playing in the lives of people around him and those he will never meet is one of his motivations for running JBean’s Roastery a venture he started in 2015 in Haliburton Village.
Zielke and coffee roaster Barry Stromberg have a small but well-oiled operation in the former Heritage House Café on Pine Avenue. Together they have created two roasts for sale: a medium roast Rainforest Alliance certified Colombian and an organic Fair Trade certified dark roast.
Of utmost importance to Zielke is the freshness of the bean.
“You get this giant antioxidant hit with fresh roasted. The goodness of the bean will go stale like any food over time” he says. To that end JBean’s lists the roasting date on each bag of its beans which are available at Haliburton Foodland Aprons and Soaps Country Kitchen Bulk Food Store and soon at Todd’s Independent. It is also the coffee served at Millpond Restaurant in Carnarvon.
Zielke has long been a roasting fanatic. It started about 25 years ago when he was living in Toronto.
One day on his way to work he decided to stop at a shop called Merchants of Green Coffee at
Bayview and Queen in Toronto. There he learned about the benefits of freshly roasted coffee and he started roasting at home.
“Fast forward 25 or 30 years I walk in this front door and there’s young Jordan Brown roasting beans with a home roaster” he says gesturing to the bar area of the former café.
For a brief period after Heritage House closed Brown had reopened the restaurant first under the name Old Meets New later changing it to JBean’s Café and Roastery.
While Brown has since exited the business moving to Toronto the roasting continues. Zielke opted to keep the JBean’s brand but the café no longer exists.
At the end of last year Zielke decided to further his knowledge of coffee by heading to Jamaica.
“It’s the closest coffee farm you can fly to” he says. During his trip he was able to see first-hand how the cherry-like fruit on coffea plant is harvested.
“There’s the woman and she’s got a bucket and she’s picking a red cherry off of a bush and putting it her bucket. So she fills her bucket. And they have depots around the Blue Mountains [of Jamaica] and people put them there. And the company comes and gets them and then processes that cherry which is the fruit around it … and then you dry it” he says.
“Then it comes by sea in shipping containers and in Toronto there’s literally thousands of tons in Mississauga and the trucks are just coming back and forth.”
Several burlap sacks of green coffee beans are stacked against each other in the JBean’s space. From there Stromberg and Zielke will roast them two pounds at a time producing a maximum of six pounds an hour.
Stromberg has become adept at fine-tuning the process Zielke says creating his own roasts and trying new things. He also handles many of the deliveries around town to grocery stores and to his office subscribers. (JBean’s offers a service of bringing beans to office customers and setting them up with the equipment necessary to enjoy a fresh brew.)
With about 80 per cent of the adult population drinking coffee Zielke believes there should be enough of a market in Haliburton County to keep JBean’s roasting well into the future. But success depends on local people being willing to support a local roaster.
“Those personal choices can totally transform what young people are doing the health of the county” he says.
To contact JBean’s go to http://jbeans.ca or email Zielke directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 705-455-2954.