Collective Coffee Roasters
May 2, 2018
Practically everywhere you turn these days, you can smell the aroma of coffee brewing.
Brewing in upscale espresso bars, brewing in every trademark green & mocha-hued Starbucks, brewing bright and early for the Canadian commuter at their neighborhood Tim Hortons. Even brewing at McDonalds. And most likely brewing in your home, whether you grind your own beans, prefer a French press, or (secretly) love your instant coffee.
Whatever the cup may be, it seems that well into the 21st century, coffee is now unrivaled as the beverage of work, of creative stimulus, of bright conversations, of staying awake at the wheel, of quiet, uninterrupted savouring.
Its appeal spans generations and cultures.
It's an international commodity with an international market.
And why are we meditating on coffee today, you ask?
Because Ryan Luttrell, a New Ventures Apprentice sent by the Eastern Canadian District and working in Calgary AB, has tapped into coffee's potential and is envisioning how to connect that potential to church planting.
Ryan, letting it brew...
From East to West
Ryan Luttrell grew up in Charlottetown, PEI. It was there he became a Christian in 2009, at age 18, and there he felt called to be a part of church planting in some capacity. Though he didn't have training for ministry, he knew he wanted to somehow support it. He went on to study business at the University of Prince Edward Island and began work in Charlottetown's financial industry.
Then in 2012, at the age of 21, Ryan had a stroke.
The stroke left him unable to speak for nine months. He had to leave his job and begin physiotherapy and speech therapy. During this difficult time, his family invited him to visit Calgary to recover with family that he had there. It was there, while recovering from his stroke, that Ryan first got connected to the C&MA: he began to attend The Exchange Church in Calgary. And as he got more involved with the mission and vision of his church and of the C&MA, he liked being out west so much that he called his family and told them that he was going to stay there for a bit.
It would be three years before Ryan moved back to PEI. Once there, he wasted no time contacting Dave Enns at New Ventures, to see if there was any way he could be a part of Alliance work in Atlantic Canada. Though at the time there weren’t any Alliance churches in PEI, Dave and Ryan began a conversation about how he might best be suited to help with the work of church planting.
Meanwhile, Ryan began thinking to himself: how can I leverage my passion for church planting with my business skills, and my enduring passion for coffee?
A Fresh Cuppa
In 2014, Ryan and a friend were attending a conference in Atlantic Canada when they met Jacob Birch, Atlantic Canada Regional Developer for New Ventures. Ryan shared his ideas with Jacob: to build a coffee business, something that could eventually lead to opening up coffee shops/cafes that could partner with churches and new church plants by supplying coffee for them and/or offering new church plants cafe space to use for meeting & ministry.
Though it was still forming, the name Ryan had in mind for his business had something to do with the word Collective. When Jacob heard the name, he opened his notebook to a page where the word "ALLIANCE" had been circled furiously and futilely: For days, Jacob had been looking for a synonym for the word "Alliance". He realized he'd found a good one in Ryan's "Collective."
Collective Coffee Roasters has a vision to see people's lives changed through coffee.
On February 4, 2018, Ryan launched Collective Coffee Roasters. Together with his brother Trevor and a good friend from back home, Ryan piled up all his belongings in his car, drove out west, settled in Calgary (the city in Canada with the fastest growing specialty-coffee market), and began the myriad details surrounding a start-up: incorporation, permits, licenses, sourcing equipment, sourcing coffee, and securing a business model that worked best. In the end Dave Enns suggested that Ryan begin an Apprenticeship with New Ventures, which allows him to grow his business independently while still discerning specific intersections this business can have with the ministry of the C&MA.
"It's a business run by Christians and not a Christian business." Ryan says.
"We strive for excellence in our arena of speciality coffee and want to offer a competitive, superior product and experience."
Two weeks ago he returned from a sourcing trip that covered Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala. In each of these countries he met with owners of farms, got to see where and how the coffee is grown, depulped (so only seed is left), dried, processed and eventually shipped out of country. Back in Calgary, in a warehouse space that he rents in the north end of the city, Ryan gets the coffee beans when they're still green seeds. He roasts them, packages them and ships them out to a growing list of wholsesale clients right across the country. Says Ryan of the value he places on fairtrade and ethical production in this industry:
I try very hard to distinguish myself from some of the larger coffee chains as they generally purchase coffee at or below the commodity price or they pay their employees far less than a liveable wage. That’s why I go and visit the farms, to ensure that everything they’re doing is ethical and sustainable. And then I also pay 3-4x the commodity price for a much higher quality product.
Sorting the beans and moving them around to dry in the sun
While business is beginning to take off, Ryan is keeping his eye on the intersections bewteen his coffee business and ministry connections. In fact, Ryan launched Collective Coffee Roasters at C2C's Multiply conference in Vancouver. The C2C Network, an organization that works as a catalyst for church planting, asked Ryan if Collective Coffee Roasters would supply all the coffee for their February conference and if he would share his mission/vision with everyone attending.
His future plans for growth and ministry connections include the following:
1. Focus on growing the wholesale business.
2. Develop channels to connect to churches and church plants: "We’re a for-profit company but we’re committed to giving a portion of our profits to New Ventures ECD." To this end Ryan has two ideas percolating:
- Independent churches can opt for a custom branding program, where a church can sign up to sell Collective's coffee and in turn CCRI will custom brand the coffee for the church, create a web page on which to place orders, and, as people purchase the coffee, give back 25% of the purchase price to support the church.
- Global ministry: Ryan points out that many coffee plantations and coffee farmers are located in the 10/40 window. There's a unique opportunity for him to visit countries that he couldn't otherwise just walk into. Ryan envisions leveraging this access to connect international workers within these countries to local business, bringing them along with him as he visits farms and facilitating relationships and avenues for future business and ministry connection.
Ryan with Mr. Peterson and his daughter Rachel, owners of one of the most prestigious farms in Panama.
3. Future planning for Atlantic Canada: Down the road, he also envisions opening up cafes in strategic places in Atlantic Canada: Truro, Halifax, Charlottetown. As mentioned earlier, these cafes could then be rented out by new church plants at low cost, so that they could have a space to meet in--and ample coffee of course.
Coffee is a fruit, the seed of the coffee cherry.
Pray for Ryan and the team at Collective Coffee Roasters. That this unique enterprise and its ministry connections would grow deep roots, flourish and be fruitful.
That the good seed they produce would then be sown into good ground, both corporately and ministry-wise--so that the harvest that's produced is much more than just the business of beans: it's a way to generate funds for God's kingdom, and assist in the growth of churches across Canada.
To connect with Ryan, you can email him at ryan.m.luttrell