Earlier this week, Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. (CHRC) launched its new space in the historical Snowdon building in Inglewood, and it's giving back to the community through an initiative that co-founders Mike Wenzlawe and Jamie Parker hold dear.
As former wildland firefighters turned entrepreneurs, the effects of the recent wildfires in Northern Alberta resonates closely with the CHRC family. As a way to support the men and women on the front lines of the wildfires and those affected by it, Wenzlawe and Parker have allocated all proceeds from every beverage purchased on their June 1 opening to the Alberta Red Cross.
"We've seen firsthand the destruction and damage that these fires cause. It wreaks havoc on families and communities, and it's more than just things. It's their lives, their memories, their history. Giving back is the least we could do. It's the Calgary way," says Mike Wenzlawe, co-founder of Calgary Heritage Roasting Co.
Since acquiring the Snowdon building, the CRHC team has restored nearly every aspect of the former oil refinery space, which was only recently granted historical protection from the city. In 1988, the space was left damaged and abandoned as a result of a fire. CRHC has managed to use recycled wood from the building to hand-craft its counters. CRHC also restored the original flooring and added a stunning table built by Wenslawe and Parker using a 110-year-old piece of reclaimed fir found beneath the wreckage of the 1988 fire.
"The concept of the space came about five years ago. My co-founder, Jamie, and I were sitting around a campfire and we kept saying, ‘Nothing tastes better than when you are in the outdoors.’ With that in mind, we wanted to find a way to connect Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. to that notion: the visceral reaction and nostalgia that so many Albertans (and beyond) have experienced on this soil,” Wenzlawe explains. “It's an experience that we, as Albertans, know all too well with the mountains right in our backyard. Our goal has been to create a space that is approachable, inviting, and represents our perception of Alberta, its landscape and community, all while eliminating the perceived pretentiousness that exists in coffee culture."
The new Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. space will serve as a roastery coffee shop where Wenslawe and Parker can manufacture their products onsite. The coffee is roasted within a glass encasement, so guests can witness the action firsthand. CHRC also has plans to host roasting classes in the near future, so patrons can roast their own coffee at home.
CHRC will continue to collect donations at the café for those who wish to contribute to families and communities displaced by the fires.