Diane Sawchuk, Ottawa West EMCEMC Lifestyle - Pierre Richard is a man on a mission: to introduce people to a cup of coffee that is as richly nuanced and complicated in its flavour and aromas as a fine glass of wine.
Happy Goat Coffee Company will custom blend coffees for clients.
The former Montrealer, now a Mechanicsville resident, embarked on a quest to turn a hobby and passion into a career three years ago. Richard started building the foundation of his coffee company by attending entrepreneurship seminars, expanding his already extensive knowledge of coffee by studying the coffee flavour wheel to learn more about the different results that roasting can produce and by taking part in cupping and coffee roasting workshops. On his own, he experimented with roasting techniques and much like an alchemist, tested different blends.
Previously employed as a long-time healthcare worker and then briefly, as an electronics engineer technologist, Richard said coffee had always been a passion of his. He enjoyed creating blends and roasted his own beans for a long time, but finally decided to be brave and take the plunge into the world of self-employment and entrepreneurship.
Richard launched Happy Goat Coffee Company last June and so far has made believers of eight local businesses, which either sell his blends of freshly roasted beans or pour his perfect cups of coffee.
"A job is just a job, but a career is doing something you love, it's finding your passion," Richard said.
"I'm shower-hopping because I don't have a shower right now, I'm in debt, I don't know if I can make the rent this month, but I've never been happier.
"And I truly believe that if you're doing something you believe in, something you're passionate about, then, with the right tools, you will succeed."
Although he calls himself a "coffee nut," Richard is more of a craftsman, or a coffee bean artisan: taking coffee to a whole other level, he will custom roast to suit individual palates and even develop personalized coffee blends for customers.
Located in a converted garage, Happy Goat Coffee Company is a roastery, or a beanery, although the 57 Lyndale Ave. location houses a treasure trove of coffee beans it is not a coffee house, Richard pointed out, although customers are always welcome to drop by to pick up their weekly orders. Only two kilos of green beans are roasted at a time, and those are kept for only 12 days before they're discarded - if they still happen to be around.
"It's rare, but in some cases beans can be better after three weeks. It all depends on growing conditions, the type of beans, where it was grown, how old are the green beans, how fresh they were, and so on. There are so many variables, and like I said, this are very rare cases," Richard said. "So it's best to just buy in small quantities and use the beans within 12 days."
Richard suggests beans be ground as needed only, and as close to the time they'll be used as possible. Oxidation sets in between two and four hours after grinding, and the ground begin to stale.
In addition to various beans, an assortment of loose teas and various fruit spreads by Michaelsdolce Jams, siphon coffee makers are available for the coffee aficionado who wants a hands-on experience brewing his java.
Looking like it wouldn't seem out of place in a chemistry lab, the siphon maker dates back to the 1800s and were popular until 70 or so years ago, when housewives came to appreciate the convenience of percolators, drip coffee makers and instant coffee, foregoing the quality produced by the siphon system.
The siphon coffee system uses a vacuum process to brew a perfect cup of coffee that is just not possible using an automatic drip coffeemaker, according to Richard. "This brings out the pure essence of coffee."
Multiple steps are required, each precise and Zen-like and watching the process is mesmerizing - a different approach to what many consider simply the fastest way of injecting a dose of caffeine into one's system.
Most people like dark roast, according to Richard, because automatic drip coffee makers don't brew coffee properly, but in fact, it is the lighter roast coffees that offer more flavour or essence if brewed in a system such as the siphon.
First, a clean multiple-use organic cotton filter is fitted into the upper globe of the siphon coffee maker and the attached metal chain pulled through the glass pipette, or tube, and hooked into place. The lower globe of the siphon maker is filled with pre-heated water (cold water takes an extra five minutes) and then coupled to the upper globe. After the heat source, either a butane, alcohol or methyl hydrate burner, is activated, vapour created by heat pushes the water through the pipette from the lower to the upper globe.
After all the water rises into the upper globe, Richard cautions it must be stirred vigorously to release some of the heat. The ideal temperature is between 195 and 205, he says: too high a heat cooks the coffee and burns it, while too low a temperature doesn't allow for the flavours and essential oils to be extracted properly or fully.
At this point, the coffee - preferably, freshly ground - is poured in and the mixture quickly stirred together using a wooden paddle or spoon. The saturated grounds are allowed to steep for at least 45 seconds before another quick stir is given. The heat source is then turned off and moved away from the stand. Without the heat, the fluid in the upper chamber drains into the lower one. Once all the liquid drains down, the upper globe containing the grounds or sediment is removed, and the brewed coffee can be poured, with the stand used as a handle for the lower globe.
Richard said the brewing cycle takes a total of 90 seconds, with the entire coffee making process just a few minutes and worth every sip. The Jiale Siphon coffee maker sold at Happy Goat Coffee Company for $99.95 brews 20 oz. at a time, making four or five cups-worth depending on the size of the mug.
"Siphon coffee gives you the best of both worlds," Richard said, "You get the bold flavour of an espresso without the bitterness and the crisp clean taste that you get from a drip coffee. It's the perfect cup of coffee every time."
The cotton filter, good for between 100 and 150 brews, must be cleaned after every use with dish soap and using a soft toothbrush, rinsed thoroughly and refrigerated in a container filled with water.
Richard had considered incorporating a coffee shop into the Happy Goat Roasting Company concept, but decided to streamline instead, and keep it to what he knew and loved best - the coffee.
"I don't want to become a big corporate franchise entity," he said. "If it expands in the future, it will be something along the lines of direct buying, where we cut out the middleman to allow the coffee farmers to be paid more. And in two to four years, I'll make sure up to 40 per cent of the staff will be those considered unemployable, whether they are intellectually or physically disadvantaged."
Although the company is growing in leaps and bounds, for now Happy Goat Coffee Company beans are sold through Herb & Spice (Bank and Wellington street locations), Life of Pie, 1095 Bank St., The Piggy Market, 400 Winston Ave., and in the near future, Cyclelogik, 1111A Wellington St. W. and The Red Apron, 571 Gladstone Ave. To sample a cup, visit Isabel's Cupcakes, Life of Pie, Hot Potato Company, Stone Soup and soon, Cyclelogik.
Ten single origin beans and five blends are available, or Richard will custom-create a blend to your individual taste. The location at 57 Lyndale Ave. is open six days a week and closed Mondays. For more information, call 613-792-1309 or visit the web site at www.happygoat.ca.