Coffee roasting company moving downtown

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Eric Binion serves up a “poured over” Guatemalan blend at the Barren Ground Coffee location in Old Town in 2017. Binion is excited to be moving his company to an as yet undisclosed location in the downtown, this fall.
Brendan Burke/NNSL photo

There’s something new brewing in downtown Yellowknife.

Popular coffee roasting company Barren Ground Coffee announced this week that it is making a bold move to set up shop at an as yet undisclosed location in the city’s central core.

The company, co-founded by Eric Binion in 2016, uses a microroaster and sells organic and fair trade coffee of different blends out of its current location at 3532 McDonald Drive in Old Town.

“It is sad to leave Old Town, but we need more space in order to expand our roasting operations,” stated Binion in an Aug. 15 company news release.

“We need more room for roasting and getting new equipment in. The shop end side (of our operations) is much bigger and we want to do a little bit more coffee service at some point.”

Barren Ground Coffee will be running its last Old Town shop day on Sunday, Sept. 15, he added. Up to that date, Binion stated that he doesn’t think there will be any disruption in service as he intends to “roast like mad” to ensure there is plenty of coffee for his customers across the NWT. In the coming weeks, he hopes to move equipment, complete physical upgrades and finish required permitting to open in the new location.

“During the move, and for the next few weeks, we will have no shop hours”, said Binion. “We hope that Northerners continue to support us by purchasing our high quality locally roasted coffee through our fine retail partners.”

Retail success 

Since opening, the company has been successful at providing its fair-trade and organic coffee at retailers like Down to Earth Gallery,  Trevor’s Independent Grocer and the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op. Binion told Yellowknifer late last year that the product has also expanded to be offered in communities such as Fort Smith, Hay River, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope and Inuvik.

Binion said he hopes his establishment will add to the coffee service that is already offered downtown. Other locations include a Tim Horton’s coffee shop in Centre Square Mall, Birchwood Coffee K’o and older locations like Javaroma and Gourmet Cup.

He doesn’t want to inflate expectations with the new move, however.

“Don’t expect a fancy new Fat Fox sort of setup,” he stated, alluding to the Range Street cafe that closed in 2018. “Although we may expand our coffee services we will still be running limited hours and will be primarily focused on roasting and wholesale. We also won’t be baking or making any fancy foods, although we do hope to collaborate with other businesses like the Fat Fox so that we can offer those delicious things.”

Instead, he is hoping to grow the unique features that have made Barren Ground Coffee a well-known product, including coffee cupping and coffee brewing courses and other new services. The new space will also allow for limited seating, he added.

He also hopes to be able to provide certified compostable packaging, new labelling to product, and a “fill your reusable container” service.

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