We Want a Subscription to Vancouver’s Own ‘Prototype Coffee’ Micro-Roastery

We’re a pretty satisfied bunch, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t covetous. Sometimes we see things out there that we just must have. This is an archive of those earthly desires. During the holiday season, the Cool Thing We Want column goes into overdrive, so keep checking back for more gift ideas.

Prototype Coffee founder Matt Johnson and his Aillio Bullet R1 roaster.

I was doing some work at Gastown’s Revolver the other day and saw a familiar face stocking the retail shelves with unfamiliar bags of coffee beans. It was former Revolver manager/barista Matt Johnson, and the beans were from his brand new microroastery, called Prototype Coffee. Johnson launched the company a few months ago but has been roasting small batches of coffee for himself since 2006. It was cool to watch him stock a shelf with his own product for the very first time. It kind of felt like a privilege…

Prototype Coffee beans on the shelves at Revolver in Gastown

On the company’s website, there are currently nine different coffees listed for sale, from Sumava de Lourdes (Costa Rica) to El Esfuerzo (Honduras). For the coffee-curious, Prototype also sells monthly coffee subscriptions. Called the Case Study Series, the subscriptions deliver a rotating selection of Prototype coffees each month. I think it would make a great Christmas present.

I asked Matt to give me some background on Prototype, and he replied as follows.

Prototype is a true microroastery. I’m roasting on an Aillio Bullet R1, which holds up to 1 kg, translating into up to three bags per roast. I chose this approach to roasting because I wanted to be able to offer a large selection of top quality, high scoring, and exciting coffees without compromising roast quality or freshness. Roasting to order in small batches is a bit more labour intensive but it gives me more precise control over the profile of each roast while also reducing waste and keeping my coffees tasting as fresh as possible.

I’ve been roasting for more than 10 years, ever since I learned the basics in a small roastery in Los Alamos, New Mexico where I grew up. Over the last few years, the Vancouver coffee scene has helped me sharpen my palate and learn what coffee tastes like at its best. I worked at Revolver in Vancouver for three years as a manager and a barista, where I had the opportunity to taste coffees every day from some of the best roasters in the world. I’ve also had the privilege of working with and learning from extremely talented baristas who I think are some of the best people in the world. Roasting coffee has been a passion of mine for many years, and it’s something that I always find fresh and fascinating. Coffees change harvest to harvest and as baristas and roasters, we get to discover new and better ways to make their flavours come alive. There’s so much movement and innovation in this industry on all levels, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.


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