Dispatch Coffee’s name sums up its operation mode for the last two years –getting coffee to the people, rather than the usual opposite. Founder Chrissy Durcak first started delivering cold brew in mason jars before acquiring the truck that made her a staple of Montreal’s coffee and food truck scenes. This weekend, Dispatch is opening a production space/roastery/cafe in the Mile-Ex area, closely following the opening a few weeks ago of its first brick-and-mortar establishment at McGill University.
Apart from Durcak as Director of Operations, the core Dispatch team counts on Chris Durning as Head Roaster (previously head roaster at Montreal’s Kittel Coffee ) as well as Jordan Crosthwaite as Director of Coffee (former manager at Cafe Odessa).
If the weather allows, the roastery welcomes guests through its wide-open, elegantly refurbished garage door. The first striking thing one will notice is the absence of a bulky espresso machine: Dispatch Coffee’s roastery cafe is equipped with an under-counter Modbar espresso machine, emphasizing the company’s ethos of hospitality and approachability. “I hope that people come to our space asking a lot of questions and get really informed answers” Durcak underlines. Being able to see the barista at work and getting a smile definitely helps to strike up a conversation.
Describing the design inspiration of the space, Durning explains that “the first iteration of a non-mobile Dispatch was a pop-up in a garage [at Nomad Nation, a shared creative space] in 2012, and while this new space is very different from that…it’s still a garage, an extension of what people have already grown to know Dispatch Coffee as.” Overall, their goal was to create a “very beautiful and functional coffee showroom and cafe.” Elements of mobility will remain even in their fixed locations: “We’ll have coffee boxes that we’ll deliver, and also coffee catering, which many coffee companies in Montreal don’t offer.”
While the roastery was in the works, McGill University approached Dispatch this past August looking for a local, high quality, independent business to go in on campus. McGill was already familiar with their product, as the Dispatch Mobile truck had been selling coffee on campus every Friday during the summer. A month and a half later, Dispatch McGill was up and running, with people lining up at every class break. “It had always been in our business model to have a central facility and then branch out into other unique retail and coffee locations. And then this thing happened, so I dropped everything that I was doing at the roastery to jump in at McGill and turn that location into what it’s starting to become,” says Crosthwaite.
Regarding the coffee that Dispatch will start roasting, Durnings explains: “Roasting coffee is a challenge, but the real talent lies in cupping and selecting–when a roaster is able to identify what’s great coffee that won’t fade, and what isn’t. I put a big emphasis on grading our own coffee to SCAA standards. We don’t want to be relying on other people to tell us what’s good.” Chrissy adds: “We value experimentation, curiosity, and not taking any industry information without a grain of salt and trying it out for ourselves, trusting our palates first.”
From coldbrew to truck to brick and mortar, Dispatch reflects the increasingly diverse paths new coffee companies are taking on the way to opening their own roasteries. With the roastery they have opened, Dispatch clearly want to continue that spirit of experimentation, helping to push Montreal's rich coffee scene forward.