Story by Nancy Saunders, Photos by Adrian Lysenko
St. Paul Roastery is the newest entrant to Thunder Bay’s coffee scene. Owners Cam Reid and Stefan Pakylak roast coffee in-house, offering patrons the unique opportunity to observe the process that transforms green beans into a delicious cuppa.
The two started as home roasters five years ago, using popcorn poppers and mail-order supplies. The inspiration for starting a roastery was multi-faceted—increasing requests from friends for their coffee led to them wanting to share the process, while a passion for the science of roasting coffee made the concept of the roastery-cum-cafe a perfect fit.
Reid and Pakylak appreciate the humour in the fact that they were the first among their neighbours to sign a lease, yet are the last to move in. The roastery connects to neighbour New Day Records and has shared speakers, allowing coffee drinkers the pleasure of listening to good tunes on vinyl, and making it easy for record perusers to do so while enjoying excellent coffee.
The space is airy and relaxed. The eye is drawn to the large Diedrich roaster with its tall stack, while a closer look at the bar-style serving area reveals glass Chemex brewers and beaker-type vessels. A sort of science lab for coffee, the roastery displays the journey taken by beans from roaster to cup. The programming of the roaster (with the output generated onto a USB to track roasts), the optimal filtration of the water, and the use of a gadget (a refractometer) to gauge the amount of total dissolved solids in the finished product—these steps are precise and well-researched. The result is carefully roasted coffee with a range of characteristics and flavours, with close attention paid to the characteristic of the beans.
Reid and Pakylak sample beans from a Minneapolis distributor before deciding which ones they want to roast. They have a deep understanding of quality and a dedication to discovering the greatest potential in each coffee. Before opening, they were roasting an average of 10 kilograms a week, and anticipate tripling that amount now. Along with coffee beans, ground coffee, a range of espresso drinks and hand-brewed filter coffees, they offer speciality coffee equipment for home brewing. You’ll also find their coffee at local restaurants, including Tomlin and during Saturday brunch at the Sovereign Room.
Raising the bar for coffee in Thunder Bay, this new space is sure to become a hub in the steadily growing downtown area.