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Fresh news from Rideau Pines

Kale growing in soil

We love being an Ottawa home-grown business with so many local farms nearby to partner with. One such partnership is with Rideau Pines Farm over in North Gower. The Vandenbergs took over an abandoned dairy farm in 1980 and revamped the poorly drained spot into a great place for growing a mix of berries and vegetables.

Lettuce growing in soil

Have you had a chance to enjoy one of our new summer salads? If so, you’ve already had the chance to taste some of these great ingredients grown just by your doorstep! We’re so excited to be buying kale, broccoli, cabbage, and other vegetables from Rideau Pines at the moment and simply can’t wait until we can taste some upcoming treats beets and strawberries. We are trying to incorporate as many locally produced fruits and vegetables in our food as we can to support our neighbours, maximize freshness and curtail the carbon footprint normally left by shipping produce over longer distances.

Rideau Pines, like a great many other farms, is often limited in the type of produce it’s able to put on the market. Farms and grocery shops alike can have a hard time selling ‘ugly’ produce that’s perfectly fresh and delicious, but not shaped similarly to the ‘perfect’ shape we normally expect. It may be surprising, but, up to 30% of perfectly good produce in Canada and United States can end up being tossed at some point in the supply chain due to cosmetics alone. Farms like Rideau Pines usually absorb the cost of this imperfectly shaped produce.

A farmer at Rideau Pines Farm
John Vandenberg

We’ve formed a partnership with Rideau Pines in which we’ll purchase much of their perfectly good food for use in products where the flavour of the produce is what counts rather then the look. In this way our soups, salads, and sandwiches will all benefit from having a much higher proportion of fresh ingredients from local farms. We will buy much of this typically unsellable produce when it’s in season and flash-freeze it in our kitchen to lock in as much of the freshness and nutrition as possible for use in soups during those cold winter months.

This partnership is a win/win for everyone involved. We’re able to keep more of the produce that goes into things like our soups local which means things like a smaller carbon footprint to produce the food, better, fresher flavours, and it benefits Rideau Pines Farm since they’re able to sell produce that they would otherwise not have been able to. If you’re curious to see the source of so much of the produce we use here in our food, you can even check out the farm for yourself! They’re open for produce sales, tractor rides, and you can even go and pick your own produce at the farm. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check them out by visiting their website.

Posted July 11, 2016 in: featured1

Pore over our pour overs!

We’re excited to have launched a new coffee service that provides an amazing opportunity for our coffee loving customers to enjoy our best coffees at many locations across the city.

Our innovative work in sourcing excellent green coffee has allowed us to build a number of relationships with small producer associations that are now yielding truly remarkable coffees. We think these are among the best coffees available and represent the remarkable ability of these producers to grow and deliver amazing quality. To date we have been limited to offering our best coffees in our 12oz bags and we would love nothing more than to make them available by the cup at our coffeehouses across town. Our new pour over service is what allows us to do this.

 

Pour over is not exactly a new invention – manual pour over has been around for decades and perfecting various pour over methods has been the focus of professional baristas around the world over the past decade. We have had a limited pour over offering ourselves at the roastery since we opened in 2012.

The difficulty with manual pour over is that the process is fairly volatile and carries a high probability of bad extraction. Manual brewing involves carefully heating a kettle to an exact temperature, using a scale to measure out coffee and water, and getting the pouring technique and timing exactly right. There is a reason why there is a world championship for manual brewing…

Happily, new technology has made pour over very repeatable and efficient and we’re very pleased to be using some rather nice new equipment in our pour over service that eliminates the lack of repeatability normally inherent to the process.  Using a high quality grinder with a built-in scale and an under-counter, programmable water dispenser allows us to have confidence that each pour over we serve will be a great expression of the coffee we’re using.

Pour over takes full advantage of our supply of remarkable coffees, often the result of the work that our coffee buying team does travelling the world and working closely with supply partners and producers to find the best coffees in the communities where we buy. By making these coffees more easily available to enjoy by the cup we are working to improve the opportunity of talented producers to sell more of their coffee for high, quality-driven price premiums.

Currently on the pour over rotation we have the best coffee from Ecuador we’ve ever bought, along with a very special new coffee that we sourced in Uganda last year from the Kasungu Bahungu community and our tasty Peruvian single producer microlot from Elías Palomino Julca.  Coming in the next few months we’ll start to see Central American coffees arrive fresh off harvest - there are some exceptional coffees on the way from some our favorite producers in Guatemala and Honduras!

We have launched pour over mostly at five of our coffeehouses including: 130 Anderson, 440 Richmond, 1437 Ogilvie, 2140 Carling, and 4027 Innes and intend to roll out more. As part of our pour over service we include a small carafe of coffee prepared on our ModBar and a short story on the microlot you’re enjoying. It’s a treat to take time and enjoy the work and craft that has gone into creating these special coffees. Let us know what you think!
Posted June 03, 2016 in: featured2

World Fairtrade Challenge

Results are in for the World Fairtrade Challenge. You’re a force, Ottawa! You crushed it.

A mug saying "Be part of the biggest fairtrade coffee break on earth"

During the World Fairtrade Challenge, every sale of a beverage using Fairtrade coffee beans like brewed coffee or an espresso-based latte counted a cup of Fairtrade coffee consumed. We kept track so that all of our guests could take part and be counted! Just in our shops alone we added over 26,000 total cups to the world total and helped get Canada edge out Australia for 7th place! Check out the link below to see how other challenges went or how other countries stacked up against us for fair trade.

Of course, 7th place is great and all and we really bumped up the number of cups for for North America, but if you take a look at the chart it looks like we’ve got a European problem to crack! The Belgians have a comfortable lead but if we keep pushing the effort for sustainable, Fairtrade practices, not only could we surpass Denmark next year but we’d have a lot more coffee farmers financially. Competition closer to home? We were this close to selling more Fairtrade cups of coffee in 19 Ottawa locations than in 45 Van Houtte cafes in the province of Quebec! Suffice it to say the capital region was well represented.

Fun and games aside, thank you so much for helping us to send a message about the importance of Fairtrade in Canada! There are companies who assure their guests that their beans are “traded fairly” or “ethically sourced” without an independent verification or third party to confirm. One of many benefits of Fairtrade is to have a mechanism beyond “trust us” to change a damaging system for the better. Our purchasing decisions influence which production and trading practices succeed. Fairtrade and quality premiums can improve the lives of coffee growing families and the community around them.

We've committed to working in close relationships with small-scale farmers through the Fairtrade system and to paying premiums for quality green coffees in order to create better opportunities for exceptional coffee producers. We also invest in the capacities of producer cooperatives - for example, our investment last year in the quality control laboratory at the Bukonzo Joint Cooperative in Uganda. These projects aim to raise quality, efficiency of operations and prices of the coffee sold by the cooperatives in our supply chain, thus improving the livelihood of their members.

Every fairly traded cup of coffee you drink matters. The cumulative impact of your choices has caused the Fairtrade presence in Canada to have grown from a small movement to a meaningful force for change for the market. You’re making the choice for Fairtrade in larger numbers each year, and by doing so you’re choosing to change how trade is done for the better.

To learn more about the World Fairtrade Challenge, visit http://fairtrade.ca/worldfairtradechallenge! For more information on Fair Trade in Canada generally, visit our friends at http://fairtrade.ca/.