Cole Torode has been in coffee since he was a teenager. Today, he's a co-owner of Calgary's Rosso Coffee Roasters
, reigning Barista Champion of Canada
, and an advocate of quality coffee in all its forms—both with and without caffeine. We've seen a lot of Cole lately, both up in Vancouver and competing in the Coffee Masters competition at the New York Coffee Festival
. In between his adventures, we pinned him down to get his thoughts about decaf.
You've been in coffee since you were quite young. Has your personal perspective on decaf changed?
Yeah, I would say so. I went from somewhere that served decaf but didn't put any focus on decaf—the very first place I worked serving coffee was a restaurant in a hotel with a brunch service, and I was the guy that would make the coffee. The coffee that I was making was Illy, it was in pods, the red tin was the regular and the green tin was the decaf. At that stage in my career I can't say I respected decaf anymore than I respected espresso—I was probably sixteen or so. I knew all the death before decaf slogans and all that sort of nonsense.
I think it changed when I joined Rosso, 8.5 years ago now. When I first moved over there my brother [Rosso founder David Crosby] was also using Illy when he started the cafe, but he had just transitioned over to George Howell. He had a decaf, which I assume was a Swiss Water or mountain water or of a higher quality than one that was chemically derived. Logistics did not benefit us getting coffee from George Howell all the way from Boston, so we moved to Phil & Sebastian, who were selling us some nice decaf as well. When we started roasting, we rotated through three decaf options but the one we landed on is a Costa Rica Tarrazu cooperative and it's super nice and approachable and the type of decaf that I thik people taste and are like, s---, that's really good!
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