Dan Dampier started his coffee business, Wolfhead Coffee, in his backyard.
“I started by roasting some in a frying pan,” he says of his first attempt. “And I quit engineering altogether and started selling coffee.”
Learning the roasting process didn’t take long, he says, because you can test the coffee a day after it’s roasted and adjust the process to get the result you want.
He also researched online on his own and learned from other roasters.
Over the years, the business has grown steadily, says Dampier. The roasting is still in his garden, where he produces small batches. “We can make about 100 pounds of coffee an hour,” he says. “We roast about three days a week.
A unique product of Wolfhead Coffee is smoked coffee, where the beans are smoked after being roasted to infuse them with a subtle smoke. “We built a smoker; it’s a one-of-a-kind smokehouse, designed for coffee, ”he says. “We produce cinnamon apple wood and hickory mesquite. It’s not super potent – it’s a light, natural smoke. Cinnamon applewood smoked coffee is popular with customers who like their java with cream and sugar, he adds.
In addition to the two smoked coffees, Wolfhead Coffee advertises Dark Roast, Medium Dark Roast, Medium Roast, and Decaffeinated on its website, but it also offers limited batches of other coffees. “Every month we have at least one different cafe,” he says. To find out what’s new and where to buy them, Dampier recommends that customers keep an eye on Wolfhead Coffee’s Facebook page.
Dampier, who usually takes his black coffee, says a coffee grinder is a worthwhile investment. “If you plan on spending money on specialty coffee, you should grind it yourself at home before you brew it,” he says.
To brew the perfect cup, he tends to steer clear of drip machines himself. “I know the French press is kind of dirty coffee but I like it, it’s quick and easy, and a lot of people like pourers too,” he comments.
Next year, he hopes to introduce a new product, cold brew coffee.
Wolfhead Coffee is now sold at over 70 retailers across Ontario. In town, it can be found at local grocery and grocery stores like Agostino’s and Brent Park Store, as well as boutiques and gift shops like the Authentic Gift Shop on Bay Street. If you just want to try a cup, head to the Up Shot Coffeehouse on May Street, where you can also buy beans – they’ll even grind them for you, if you don’t have a grinder at home.
Sleeping Giant Brewery not only sells the coffee in their store, but also adds it to their beer. The Snow Goose, a vanilla coffee porter available in stores and online for a limited time, uses Wolfhead Coffee.
“We also organize fundraisers from schools and churches. We like this because it helps them, and for us it’s a great way to reach new customers, ”says Dampier.