Coffee’s Dark Secret
What’s the secret to a great cup of coffee, the kind of coffee you get at Bean Around the World? Perhaps more accurately, the kind of coffee that has taken proprietors Pete Boëda and Barney McKenzie 25 years to perfect.
“After 25 years in the coffee business we’ve seen a lot,” says Pete. “Trends have come and gone but we’ve always tried to stay true to our self, our customers and above all, the coffee.”
Even in the fast paced world of digital automation and instant gratification, Pete and Barney have kept their business personal. “We don’t just hop on the Internet and order 50 bags of whatever’s on special from some random wholesaler,” explains Pete.
Both he and Barney have travelled extensively and worked closely with brokers and farmers. For years, they have been buying coffee direct from the plantations. It’s a rigorous process that requires patience and commitment. “We go to great lengths to source our beans,” says Barney, “they are selected from the top 10% of beans in the world.”
But their rigorous quality standards don’t mean a limited selection, in fact, quite the opposite. Today, Bean offers nearly 26 varietals, far more than most coffee companies. And, those beans are hand-roasted (in BATW’s North Shore roastery) in old-world, cast-iron coffee roasters—by sight, sound, and smell. “Our roasting is artisanal. No computers, no automation. Just experience and dedication.”
That dedication and experience has earned Pete and Barney the trust of local farmers in countries like Guatemala. After being savaged by civil war for nearly 40 years, Guatemala has become one of the best growing regions in the world. But gaining access to beans of this quality in a country like Guatemala was no easy task.
“We spent years building relationships and in many cases friendships” says Barney. “With that comes a responsibility to give back to the people who helped make us successful.” So, Pete and Barney funded the construction of a schoolhouse on the farm and continue to pay a salary to the teachers, who also help the adults in the village learn to read.
“We’ve committed 25 years to brewing the best cup of coffee. We’ve stuck to our roots, supported our suppliers and our staff,” says Pete. It’s a pursuit of passion that has endured for a quarter century despite a ceaseless cycle of coffee fads and a seemingly insurmountable competition from multi-national retailers. But, at the end of the day, or perhaps more accurately, early in the morning, it’s that first cup of coffee that makes it all worthwhile.
Today, there are two dozen independent BATW shops in BC, each with its own character, each serving its community the great coffees BATW has become known for, such as the popular Marine blend, Bean’s signature dark roast, which goes back to the very first location in West Vancouver, 25 years ago.