Anyone who has been to Swirl Cafe knows they serve great coffee–Prairie Lily Coffee. But, have you ever wondered, who is the person behind these great beans? Well, we did! So we sat down with Terry Masikewich, owner of Prairie Lily Coffee Roasters to chat a little further about how he got started.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how Prairie Lily Coffee Roasters came to be?
I’ve been involved in the roasting side of coffee for the last four and a half years. I started out in coffee around 2000, when I went on a trip to Europe. When I was there, a friend asked me if I wanted to go for a cup of coffee. Immediately I said, ‘sorry I don’t drink coffee, it’s horrible!’ His reply was, ‘Oh c’mon, it’s not like Canadian coffee.’ I’m glad I agreed because we went to this beautiful café where I enjoyed my first latte and from that moment I was hooked.
When I returned to Canada, I started researching and trying as many specialty coffees as I could. Eventually, I bought a home espresso machine and began learning as much information about it and how to brew coffee as possible. Fast forward to 2012, my family and I decided to move from Calgary to Lloydminster. This was when I started looking into bringing specialty coffees to the prairies and signed up for a roasting class in Boston. It was after this class that I purchased a small roaster and started roasting my very own beans.
Eventually, with the help of Carlos Gutierrez at the Single Origin Coffee Company, based in Calgary I purchased green beans of my own.
In 2016 I built a few special blends and started attending a local farmers market. It was also during this time, I began wanting to learn more about the specialty side of coffee, and eventually, I just dove into it!
As I began to learn that many countries around the world grow coffee beans, I also learned that each brings its own unique flavours based on the territory of the country they grow in. Once I knew this, I was completely fascinated. I remember trying my first Ethiopian coffee, and this was my “Aha!” moment–it tasted like blueberry jam, it was so sweet and delicious.
Can you tell us a little about the awards you have won and what that means for you?
When I started exploring and learning the coffee world, I really tried to perfect my roasting protocols. I reached out to some worldly individuals for help, they quickly said they would teach me how to be a better roaster and taster.
It was also after this that I wanted to see where I stood in the world of roasting, so I entered a contest called Golden Bean North America*.
Here you submit your roasted coffee for evaluation by your peers in three categories:
I was pleasantly surprised with my results where I received silver and bronze medals in each category.
However, I wanted more. So, the following year I attended in person, taking my family down to Nashville Tennessee for the five-day competition to try to win it–the overall winner is based on the combination of the three with the highest scores.
Here I finished in second place overall, a mere .5 points away from winning the entire competition! While I was there, I learned so much and had a lot of fun.
For those of us who don’t know what being a coffee roaster means, can you explain it?
There are many aspects to being a coffee roaster. Not only are you changing the state of the bean from a non-drinkable to a drinkable stage, but you also become a green bean buyer, barista, sourcer, scientist, and even a global ambassador.
Finally, what is your favorite part about being a coffee roaster?!
What I love the most about coffee is that the “door to coffee experience” can be as big or as small as you would like to make it. What I mean is, it’s a world full of opportunities if you wish to explore it!
*The Golden Bean is the world’s largest coffee roasters competition and conference
This competition endeavors to find North America’s best coffee roasting business with coffees being judged as Espresso, Milk and Filter beverages with medals awarded in eleven award categories.
The conference attracts attendance from over 100 coffee roasting businesses and consists of several educational workshops and social functions.
Coffee companies submit their entries on a predetermined date and the coffees are judged through a blind tasting format, in ten different categories and brew methods. The coffees are judged by roasters that attend the event to participate and enjoy the competition and conference.
The Golden Bean invites roasters to not only send in their entries but also to participate in the seminars and fun sponsored evenings. This creates a valuable opportunity for roasters to network with each other and form great alliances within the industry.