Waking up to that sweet life-giving aroma of a pot of coffee can still happen while in the Yukon, but the trouble might be choosing which roaster! Coffee is important for a lot of people and there are no shortages of coffee roasters in town. Skip going to Starbucks or Timmies for your double-double and try one of the independent coffee shops that will serve up a hot cup of locally roasted Joe or buy a bag of beans and make it yourself. Here are a few of the roasters in town that make a variety of heaven for your mug (in alphabetical order)
Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters
Although Atlin is technically part of British Columbia, it is considered an honorary Yukon town that’s only 176 km from Whitehorse. To get to Atlin you must drive through the Yukon- unless you have your own floatplane to get over the mountains. Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters has a variety of roasts that use no chemicals, no pesticides; just organic fairly traded single origins, beans, blends and barrel-aged coffees, brought to perfection in the Canadian wilderness- just waiting for you to discover them. They have a few Yukon-witty-named roasts which are as entertaining as they are tasty. They began their coffee roasting careers in 2013 when they began roasting their own beans for their café in Atlin. They took to bean roasting so much that they closed the café and moved their roastery onto their off-the-grid property, 12 km outside of Atlin. Using their one-of-a-kind wood-fired roaster (that was made by Trabattoni in Italy, specifically for their business) they roast their beans powered by solar energy and fueled with local pine that is split by hand and harvested sustainably. They give back to the community by sponsoring many local events and help with fundraising by working with various non-profit societies, BC Parks (helping out Tarahne Park in Atlin) and the BC Wild Sheep Society. Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters also participates in the Fireweed Community Market that operates on Thursday afternoons at Shipyards Park from May 13 to September 23, for the 2021 season. Their products can be found at many of the local craft fairs including the Spruce Bog (held around Christmastime) and in stores in the Yukon, British Columbia and even in Ontario. For local year-round shopping, you can find their coffee being sold at Wykes Your Independent Grocer, Save on Foods, Rambles, Riverside Grocery and Keraky Mini Market. Find a freshly brewed cup locally at Save on Foods, during the Fireweed Market or take the scenic drive out to their coffee wagon in downtown Atlin (open May to September). They can ship worldwide and do offer free doorstep delivery within Whitehorse. Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters is the very first to offer Certified Organic Whisky barrel-aged coffee (with barrels from Two Brewers, a local distillery) and wine barrel-aged coffee (using barrels from Sandhill Winery). At Christmas, their whisky barrel-aged coffee is offered in gorgeous bottles blown by Lumel Studios. When I asked Leandra and Philippe what they like most about roasting they replied, “The satisfaction of crafting delicious coffee, oh, and the smells!” In Leandra’s cup, you will often find Atlin Sunrise (Medium roast Ethiopia) while Philippe enjoys sipping on Campfire crackle (Dark roast Sumatra). They do offer tours of their roastery by appointment only. To learn more or to order some coffee, visit their website Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters
Bean North Coffee Roasting CO. LTD.
Bean North is located between the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and Takhini Hot Pools (re-opening in 2021 sometime) at KM 8.8 on the Takhini Hot Springs Road, so why not make a day of it? Enjoy a cup of Bean North’s coffee at their Café in the Woods. Their relaxing wilderness location is open daily in the summer months and is a great location to enjoy a freshly roasted cup of coffee. All their coffees are certified Fair Trade and Organic, but Bean North takes an extra step to help the environment by offering their retailed coffee in omnidegradable bags that will decompose when they come into contact with microbes that are present in landfills. You can find a fresh cup of coffee in Whitehorse at Alpine Bakery, Baked Café + Bakery, Burnt Toast Café, The Claim Café & Food Co., Java Connection, Takhini Gas Station and the Yukon University cafeteria. You can buy their products for home brewing at their roastery, Coast Mountain Sports, Cliffside Country Store & Greenhouse, Kutters Hairstyling, Midnight Sun Emporium, Paradise Alley Gifts, Potluck Food Co-op, Save on Foods and Wykes Independent Grocer. You can find their coffee in many other places within the territory and even in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland & Labrador and Alaska. Can’t make it to one of the retailers selling their coffee? No problem! You can order directly from their website with worldwide shipping. Bean North Coffee Roasting Co also participates in the Fireweed Community Market that operates on Thursday afternoons at Shipyards Park from May 13 to September 23, for the 2021 season. Bean North Coffee Roasting Co. is also offering a coffee subscription where the head roaster selects the best coffees for you each month. The subscription is customizable with the amount (in pounds) of coffee and how frequently you get your subscription. To give back to the planet, Bean North is attempting to have 25,000 trees planted. They have teamed up with Cooperativa CAC Pangoa, Grow Ahead and Cooperative Coffees to support a women-run reforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. For a $1 donation or with the purchase of a bag of Hot Coffee for a Cool Planet, one tree will be planted in the Amazon. To learn more or to order some coffee, visit their website Bean North Coffee Roasting Co.
Firebean Coffee Roasters
The name Firebean was come by honestly. Michael Russo, co-owner of their family-run business, decided to roast his very first batch of beans without any coffee roasting background- to just have the batch go to flames. So, Firebean Coffee Roasters was born! From their humble beginning of using objects found around the home and shed, Michael evolved the business to use a bicycle connected to a drum to roast the beans over a fire. When he would pedal the bike, it would rotate the drum containing the beans. It was a lot of trial and error to get the proper pedaling speed sorted out. Only within the last year, Michael retired his bicycle-powered roasting operation and began using a motor to help keep up with demand. Michael invited me out to his roastery to show me the coffee-roasting-ropes. It was really neat to watch the process and to witness him just looking at the drum and knowing if the beans were ready or not- unlike his first-ever roasting attempt. Firebean Coffee is still roasted in small batches over a wood fire with precision and a lot of care. The crackling fire and the sound of the popping beans combined with the incredible aromas filling the air was everything you could imagine! Thanks again for having me out. Firebean Coffee Roasters can be found at the Fireweed Community Market that operates on Thursday afternoons at Shipyards Park from May 13 to September 23, for the 2021 season. A hot cup of Firebean Coffee can now be found at a brand-new café attached to Lumel Studios named Gather Café and Taphouse. To brew your own pot, you can find Firebean products at Wykes Your Independent Grocer, Midnight Sun Emporium, Riverside Grocery, Big Way Copper Ridge and Super A Porter Creek. Online orders can be shipped all over the world, but free delivery is offered within the city of Whitehorse. You can even register for their coffee subscription and have fire-roasted coffee delivered bi-weekly or monthly within the city. Firebean Coffee Roasters has also done a few collaborations with other local talents: Winterlong Brewing Co (creating Divine Caffeination 8.5% Belgian Tripel with coffee, Firebean 6.8% Rye Coffee Porter and Divine barrel-aged coffee), Yukon Chocolate Company (creating bean-infused chocolate bars and chocolate-covered coffee beans), Deep Dark Wood Brewing Company (creating a sour titled Stoked) and Berry Blue Toes Apothecary (making a coffee-infused soap). When I asked Michael his favourite part about roasting, he replied “Let’s see...for me it’s the total experience. The back end running the biz keeps things interesting and the front end splitting the wood, stoking the fire and dropping batches is engaging...it's definitely a lifestyle...definitely an addiction. It's got the whole of me lit up and it challenges me on many levels. I can't picture things any other way.” If you were to ask him which roast he’s been drinking, he would tell you that he’s been following a mellow chocolatey vibe, so it’s Fireweed roast- for now. To learn more or to order some coffee, visit their website Firebean Coffee Roasters
Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters
Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters was purchased eleven years ago by Katya McQueen, who had worked for the previous owner, Zola Dore. Since the purchase, the roastery has become a family business that is owned and operated by entirely female staff. You can grab a fresh cup of coffee from their downtown location (21 Waterfront Place) or one of the following local businesses: The Coffee Bar (Third Ave.), The Chocolate Claim, Kind Café and Riverside Grocery. In the summer months, you can sit back and relax with a hot cup of coffee on their mountain view deck, as you breathe in the fresh Yukon air. Looking to take some beans to go? Pick them up at their location, Midnight Sun Emporium (Main St), Wykes Your Independent Grocer or Riverside Grocery. Worldwide shipping is also available through their website. Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters has a considerable selection including Fair Trade and Certified Organic coffees, but Katya tends to find her hands wrapped around a mug of Bushwhackers Blend most often and she tells me this blend is considered a favourite by Yukoners as well. When I asked Katya what her favourite part of roasting is, she replied “The best part of roasting in my opinion, is the incredible attention to detail one must have to produce consistently delicious roasts. The magic of watching the beans in the cooling pan remains one of my favourite things to witness.” Hopefully in the near-future, Katya is crossing her fingers that she will be able to offer roasting tours again. Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters has also done a collaboration with Yukon Brewing to create Midnight Sun, an Espresso Stout with an alcohol content of 6.2% (available through the brewery). To learn more or to order some coffee, visit their website Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters
I personally have not chosen a favourite. I drink all four roasters and many of the varieties they each offer. I’m more of a latte-coffee drinker and when I’m making one at home, I like to add some birch syrup to my frother as it’s preparing my milk. Yum yum! With so many options, you can have a different blend every day of your vacation. Since travel is still out of the question, why not order yourself some Yukon (or Atlin) roasted coffee and begin checking them off your list before you get here. Of course, they all taste better with the mountain views and the fresh Yukon air around you, but I know they are still amazing from the comfort of your own home- especially while dreaming of your Yukon vacation.
Hero Picture- Michael, from Firebean Coffee Roasters, checking to see if his batch of Inferno is ready yet. Photo captured by me