Three Questions for Mickey McLeod of Salt Spring Coffee, 25, Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine

Image courtesy of Salt Spring Coffee.

As it celebrates a quarter of a century in business, progressive Canadian roaster Salt Spring Coffee focuses on its roots, which run deep in environmental sustainability.

The British Columbia-based company is also focusing on the vertically oriented roots of coffee plants of the Maracaturra variety grown by long-time Salt Spring supplier Byron Corrales of Finca Los Pinos in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The beans from these plants now form the basis of Salt Spring’s 25th Anniversary ‘Coffee With Purpose’ Sampler Connection, designed to celebrate Finca Los Pinos’ regenerative farming practices with the same coffee processed three ways after. harvest (washed, honey and natural).


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Although the product has limited release, Salt Spring is preparing for another 25 years from its Salt Spring Island kitchen and cafe, as well as its production headquarters in the Vancouver area.

We took advantage of Salt Spring’s 25th anniversary to speak with Salt Spring Coffee co-founder Mickey McLeod, whose formative years immersed in the 1960s counterculture inspired the gradual turnaround of the coffee business that he founded with Robbyn Scott in 1996.

“I knew I wanted eventually to create a business that embraces these values ​​and has a positive impact on the world,” McLeod told DCN. “I just didn’t know what this business would be. “

Mickey McLeod (right) and Robbyn Scott (left) at their Salt Spring Coffee Café & Kitchen in Ganges, BC

Salt Spring Coffee Founders Robbyn Scott and Mickey McLeod at Salt Spring Coffee in Ganges, BC Image courtesy of Salt Spring Coffee.

McLeod started roasting after finding Kenneth Davids’ classic book Home coffee roasting and finally connect with fluid bed roaster inventor and engineer Michael Sivetz for some basic equipment and green beans.

“From there I started looking at the green coffee supply chain and realized that roasting coffee would be the type of business that would allow me to create a sustainable process from start to finish and having a positive impact on people and the environment, ”said McLeod. “At the time, organic coffee was almost unheard of in British Columbia, so sourcing directly from organic producers, making sure they were paid properly – before Fairtrade even existed in Canada – and by giving local coffee drinkers an expertly roasted product, we were able to do something that benefited everyone.

Three questions with Mickey McLeod

[Note: Answers may have been shortened for clarity.]

What inspires you the most about coffee?

I’m really inspired by the way coffee connects us to people and the environment. The growing conditions behind, the weather, the soil – they all play such an important role in shaping the flavor that ends up in our cup. It’s a reminder that we need to take great care of people and the environment so that we can continue to enjoy the wonderful things, like coffee, that nature offers us.

What about the coffee that bothers you the most?

Our world faces a monumental challenge in the form of climate change. For the coffee industry, this means that rising temperatures and extreme weather events will increasingly affect the areas where we can grow coffee and the livelihoods of the original producers. As an industry and as a species, we must do all we can to reduce our impact on the environment and build climate resilience.

While it’s not always clear that a mid-sized coffee roasting company like ours can make a difference, there are areas where we can make an impact – improving soil health being a key factor. important element. This is why we are actively working with our producers to support them in adopting regenerative organic farming practices. We are still at the beginning of this process, but it is something that we want to develop in the future.

What would you do without the coffee?

Prior to founding Salt Spring Coffee, I spent my time in forestry – from planting trees to selective logging to running a small sawmill – and operated an organic vegetable garden. If I wasn’t running Salt Spring Coffee, I would probably be doing something about food and farming. Like coffee, food has a way of connecting consumers to producers and to the land. These industries – coffee, agriculture and forestry – remind us to take care of the land. These are the types of businesses that interest me.


DCN’s “Three Questions” series features Q&A with people pushing the progressive boundaries of the coffee industry through leadership, innovation, advocacy or overall excellence. Name someone here who inspires you.

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