Sophie Moreau & David Lalonde: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #30

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Sophie Moreau & David Lalonde: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #30

Coffee Insurrection
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.

We are Sophie and David, co-founders of – so you guess it, we work at RHR! We are pretty small, 3 employees including ourselves, so we wear many hats!
Sophie takes care of the whole production, shipping and logistics, all of our graphic designs/photos, website and the administrative.
David is the master taster and does all the green buying and logistics, coffee roasting, social media, wholesale and communications.

2- When and why did coffee become important to you?

Sophie: After university, I travelled for a year wondering what I wanted to do with my life. I always wanted to have my own business and really enjoyed hanging out and connecting with different people in cafés around the World. That’s when I decided that one day, I would have my own shop and be my own boss.

David: I’ve been a barista, wholesale manager and trainer for other roasters and learned a ton. But coffee truly became important to me when I had the chance to get into green coffee buying. I really wanted to create a different type of coffee company, one that would focus on origin and farmers equality, and it’s from that idea that RH started to take form.

3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
Sophie: I was in Sydney and across the street from our hostel there was a coffee cart in an old remodeled airstream they served the best cappuccino I ever had! That was my first interaction with specialty coffee and I was hooked!
David: This will be a pretty boring story ;-) I had a natural Ethiopian that tasted like blueberry and I simply couldn’t believe it! This immediately got my attention and
2 months later I quit my job as a waiter and restaurant manager to be a barista.
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
Sophie: Opening the roastery. I love those first quiet 5 mins where I can walk in and settle in slowly. I longed for having our own space for so long so having an office and roastery is really a dream.

David: What gets me going is the notion that we can have an impact with our small business. Roasting and promoting coffees that were ethically bought is tasty, but also rewarding. Developing projects that could positively impact farmers and communities at origins is also what I love the most about Rabbit Hole.
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
Sophie: Can I say instant? Haha just kidding ;) I really like the /V60, I find it ease and soothing. No fuss, just brewing a good clean cup of coffee. I recently started experimenting with the Aeropress and I am also liking this brewer a lot so let’s see if I switch.

David: The origami is my favorite dripper for sure. I love the aesthetic, but I love how round and sweet it makes coffee. I also have a thing with the Ibrik, but I am not the best at using it. I’ll keep practising though, because a well done Ibrik is something very special.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Sophie: I love a nice round and sweet coffee. I love decaf since I am very sensitive to caffeine. But I must say our Shoondhisa coffee from Ethiopia is quite something!

David: That’s an impossible question to answer haha! But recently, I had an absolutely killer Yemeni coffee from Qima’s Alchemy collection that we will soon have on our menu. And I’d say that 4-5 coffees in my top 10 were from Yemen.

7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
Sophie: I love coffees from Mexico, I can find everything I want – from classic chocolatey notes to a crazy honey gesha and they have the best decaf ;)
David: It’s the eternal battle between Mexico and Yemen for me. Yemen is just so unique and distinct and I love those coffees so much. But Mexico offers such a wide range of profiles. For uniqueness, Yemen; for everyday coffee and decaf, Mexico!
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
Sophie: I love and everything they do from a marketing branding point of view and the coffees. More local, I would recommend for everything they stand for.

David: I second everything Sophie just said. I will add to the mix as their ethos are beyond reproach, and also because they only roast Yemeni coffees!
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
Sophie: Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Especially when you are trying to build a conscious business. We want our business to do good, have an impact on people and change the industry. This won’t happen overnight, but I believe that if we stick to our vision and take no shortcut, we will make a difference.

David: That coffee is subjective and that we need to expand what the word specialty means. We need more specialty coffee drinkers worldwide, and to let those people in, we have to gatekeep less and welcome different types of coffee in the industry, notably darker roasted coffees. Specialty is about farmers and equality before tasting notes.
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
Sophie: Covid definitely changed our business overnight, but we were lucky enough through it all. We always wanted to focus more online and reach more people to get them to join in on specialty coffee. Covid forced us to shift our business focus from wholesale to consumer. People were home and needed coffee, who can blame them! We saw a surge in our online traffic and this helped us reach a new consumer type and raise awareness about specialty coffee. They also became super interested in the quality of the coffee, how to brew better coffee and supporting local businesses.

11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
Sophie: I am hopeful it will be more inclusive, that we will see more women roasters and women roastery owners. I also hope more and more people will join us in our quest beyond coffee for a more equitable and sustainable future.

David: I hope that in 10 years, coffee will be treated more like we do other products such as wine and craft beer. We have no problem paying 11$ for a special beer, but coffee is still expected to be cheap AND tasty. My big hope is to decolonize people’s coffee mentality.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Sophie: I hope we will have built a great business that’s different and unique in its own way and that more people have joined us in our journey beyond coffee.

David: I hope to have long lasting relationships with importers and farmers across the globe, and also hope I can be considered an honest, vocal roaster that is truly doing the work that is needed to change the industry. Also maybe owning a cafe and writing a coffee book.
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you want to share with someone that want to start this path?
Sophie: Remember to pace yourself, choose something you are really passionate about, do your research and then go for it. It will be a lot of hard work but you can do anything you put your mind to.

David: I often get lost in coffee and I obsess over everything. I often forget to just enjoy a cup. So, if you are a coffee professional, take that time to be a consumer from time to time.

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