CLOVERDALE â€” Fact: People love coffee. People also love locally produced goods. So what happens when you combine the two? You get Milan Krgovich and Diamond J coffee.
Based out of his Cloverdale farm, Krgovich decided to begin his own coffee business after years of being surrounded by it elsewhere in the family.
"Our family has been in the business since around 1984, with The Coffee Roaster at Granville Island (now JJ Bean). My aunt and uncle started that and years down the road I learned how to roast from them and worked for them," he says.
While Vancouver has a handful of roasters producing their own coffees, Surrey is a different matter. As far as he knows, Krgovich is one of the only coffee roasters in Surrey, another roaster being Holy Smoke Coffee in South Surrey.
"There’s also a guy in Fort Langley and they just started up not too long ago as well," he says. "But in terms of specialty coffee coming out of Surrey there isn’t much else, so we’re hoping to bring it this way. People want it, they want locally produced stuff. There’s Tim Hortons, but that’s not what I’m selling and not what I believe in."
Having bought his own roaster, a topof-the-line Probat machine imported from Germany, Krgovich is hoping to share his love of coffee and experience with the community. And now, after taking the past year to perfect his coffee, Krgovich is ready to offer it to the public.
Using his contacts in the industry, Krgovich is able to source beans from countries like Tanzania, Jamaica, Columbia and Guatemala, all of which have their own unique beans and properties.
"Each country has a profile, Colombians, for example, have bit more acidity but it’s not a bad thing," Krgovich explains. "You say acidity and most people think it’s bad but coffee is supposed to have a certain amount of acidity and you can taste that on your tongue."
Because he’s working with such small batches, Krgovich is able to tailor different beans to different roasts.
"So bigger companies like Starbucks purchase whole farms but my market is smaller, I buy from small lots, roast it fresh on demand and it’s coming from all kinds of different sources," he says.
"So my coffee can vary month-to-month, I don’t buy a whole year’s worth like a lot of other companies, I pick and choose and have the luxury of roasting small so I can pick the best of the best and use the bean with the best taste profile."
And by the sounds of it, Krgovich knows his stuff when it comes to determining what makes a good coffee. Asked to explain some of the differences between roasts and the process itself, he’s quick to breakdown coffee for beginners.
"With a light roast you usually get more of the natural characteristics of the coffee," he explains. "If you go a little further in, it brings out more of the flavour. When you’re roasting, the moisture comes out of the bean. You can hear it escaping, we call it popping or crackling.
"Then you get the second crack, the chemical reaction of the sugars and oils caramelizing right at the end and that’s where it all comes together. Most of the flavour comes at the end of the roast, so a light roast is more earthy, then you’ve got medium, then dark. French roast (dark) is the furthest you’re going to want to take it, and Starbucks takes theirs a touch darker, almost burnt."
Personally, Krgovich prefers the medium roast as it offers the best of both the light and dark.
"A lot of guys go dark and never go back though," he says. "There’s not necessarily more caffeine in it, but it just has a stronger flavour."
So far the reception to Krgovich’s coffee has been good, but there’s been limited opportunity to get it out to the public. With vendors from nearby cities already staking claims as being the coffee vendor at farmers’ markets around the area, Krgovich hasn’t been able to get out there as fast as he’d like. However, with a stall at the Surrey Night Market and a website in the works, he’s hoping word of mouth will soon spread.
"Starting up, you figure you know what you want to do and how to do it, but then there’s all these little things to take care of," he says, adding he’d like to eventually get into local stores.
"People like local, they like fresh coffee and that’s what I’m doing," he says. "People like the higher quality stuff and especially if it comes from nearby."
For more information about Krgovich’s coffee, check him out Fridays and Saturdays at the Surrey Night Market, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you happen to like it, Krgovich suggests not going too crazy on stocking up. With a parting bit of advice, the Cloverdale coffee man says people often make the mistake of buying lots of one type of coffee and then storing it improperly.
"The thing is buy a pound a week, don’t buy five and then put it in the freezer," he explains. "You want it as fresh as possible and in the freezer or fridge, it can take on the smells of the things around it."