Emily Lagace and her husband Kevin moved to St. Marys from London three years ago for a change in surroundings and small town lifestyle. “We’ve had home based businesses before, but we really wanted to do something with a local presence and participate in the life of the town,” says Emily. “We shop local whenever we can and we’re fans of fine coffee, so the idea of owning a local coffee roaster just stuck.”
The Big Idea
After a Specialty Coffee Association of America course in Illinois and experimenting with twenty different beans and roasts, the couple settled on direct-trade, shade-grown, top-tier 100% Arabica coffee from a farmer’s cooperative near Antigua, Guatemala.
To be clear: This is not a café – it’s a roaster selling beans with no seating. “We will offer two styles of brewed coffee for people on the run, but we’re not trying to compete with other local sit-down cafés. Actually, we hope they’ll buy from us and serve our coffee!”
They will also add some unusual products, like cascara, a tea made from coffee cherries, And nitrogen-pressured cold-brewed coffee, which takes 16 hours to steep. “We’ll also collaborate with other local businesses, like cookies from Breadtopia, and participate in local events like the farmers market and River Rock Festival.”
Emily and Kevin (“She’s running this, I’m just the muscle.”) found a tidy little space on the main street and hired local found-object furniture maker Matt Brenner to build fixtures. The biggest expenses were the centerpiece: an imported Probatone roaster and commercial venting system. “It’s a larger capacity roaster (5kg.) but it makes the most sense when you’re dealing with 150-lb. bags of beans,” says Emily.
And that name? “A musician friend has always wanted to open a business with the name ‘Snapping Turtle’ – they are a local at-risk species, we like the name, and we beat him to it!” From inception to their May 27th grand opening was a year-long process.
Perth Community Futures
The couple approached PCF in the fall of 2016 with business plan and cashflow projections in hand for a wholesale business but they were
receptive to PCF’s suggestion that they aim for a storefront and a 50:50 retail-wholesale split. “We came in prepared but open to ideas,” says Emily. “And when you see the numbers in black & white, the idea of a public retail presence is less scary.”