Celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight With Us!

FTWeeksFair Trade Fortnight is a campaign run by Fairtrade Canada to promote awareness and encourage participation in the Fair Trade movement. The campaign runs from May 1st to 15th so read on to learn a little more as to why we have committed to serving fairly traded coffee, tea and chocolate. Along with these three products, Fair Trade Canada also recognizes and certifies the following categories of products: cotton, flowers, fruit, gold, grains, nuts and oils, spices and herbs, sports balls, sugar, tea, and wine.

Fair Trade is an alternative trading practice with a humane purpose: to help family farmers in developing countries gain direct access to international markets, as well as to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace. Fair Trade provides a minimum price to farmers to cover the costs of sustainable production. Farmers are also guaranteed a Fair Trade premium that they can invest in their community (e.g. healthcare, education, processing facilities). Coffee producers within the fair-trade system are organized into democratic co-operatives (or associations) which they own and govern. A democratic governing body is elected and they decide how best to invest the premium.

Coffee shrubs take three to five years to yield fruit which makes coffee farmers particularity vulnerable to the volatile international market. Fair Trade is an alternative to the conventional coffee markets. Since opening our Roastery last June, we have bought from 19 different coffee co-ops, 17 of which were brand new relationships for us. We roast about 6,000 lbs a week, that’s about the annual production of one to two small coffee farms and about 200,000 cups of coffee!

Around 90% of the Western tea market is dominated by seven transnational corporations. These corporations control every step of tea’s supply chain – from harvest to distribution. For the past decade, Fair Trade has been providing another option for tea growers. Bridgehead buys tea from growers in India, China, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Sudan and various gardens in South Africa.

Since 1981, Bridgehead has followed international Fair Trade principles and has selected partners that are committed to them.

A Successful Weekend of the Canadian Brewer’s Cup and Cup Taster’s Events!

We are winding down from a very successful specialty coffee industry event weekend! This past weekend Bridgehead hosted the 2nd Annual Canadian National Brewers Cup, and the Annual Canadian Cup Taster’s Championships at the Bridgehead Roastery.

For news coverage of this past weekend, please go here.

Thanks to all who participated, as a judge, as a spectator, as a volunteer or supported in other ways! Thank you specifically to some of our own Bridgehead staff who participated as volunteers: 

Chris, and Rachael from Fairmont (Canadian Cup Taster’s Logistics) Ryan and Sean from Albert (A/V and Brewers cup volunteers respectively) Randy, Brendan, Gavin, from our Roastery (A/V, Brewers cup, and gift swag bag assembly volunteers respectively). Ian, our coffee director who organized the cup tasters events Cliff our Roaster, who organized the brewers cup.

We had a lot of local volunteer support as well!

Congratulations goes out to first time competitors, Nicolas Ladouceur from our Preston location who competed in the Brewers cup and the cup tasters , as well as Brendan Butt  from our roastery who competed in the cup tasters.

We held our own in a tough national field, and the Bridgehead community couldn’t be more proud of you both.

This was the very first time a coffee event (let alone a national one) has been held in our nation’s capital, and we are pleased to say Ottawa really did show those who came from out of town (from as far as Vancouver) how passionate, and welcoming we are as a local coffee community. 

Please look for video footage going up in the next week or so on www.brewersandtasters.com.

 Thanks for a great weekend!

 The Brewers and Tasters Organizational Committee


A Look at Where Our Tea Comes From!

This post is written by the lovely shop manager Jen as she travels through India. She visited Singell Estate – a tea garden that we buy our Darjeeling for our English Breakfast blend and our Earl Grey tea from!

The farm was very peaceful and beautiful, in the Darjeeling district but about an hour and a half drive from Darjeeling town in Kurseong.  The tea production actually takes place over night so I didn’t get to see any of the rollers or dryers in action, but we took pictures for you anyways.  I realized after we left that I forgot to ask to go on the roof to take a picture of the wilting trays.  The lighting inside the factory was really bad but I hope you can still use some of the pictures. 

Being out in the fields was my favourite part of the day.  We joined the ladies after their lunch break and they showed me how they only pluck from the very top of the table so that the plants can stay healthy.  They work on one section at a time and they have a supervisor named Muna.  Parveez said that it is not common for a farm to employ women supervisors.  Muna used to pluck as well.  Plucking is much harder than it looks! Although I knew to look for “two leaves one bud” when I tried my hand at it there were so many leaves I got flustered!  Luckily Muna was a great supervisor and she helped me out.

Parveez has been with Tea Promoters India for 13 years, and with Singell Estate since December 2012. He used to work on farms that did not use organic methods, he said it takes a real shift in thinking to “change the old frame of mind.”

In organic farming there is more of a chance to use problem solving skills, it is less standardized than non organic.  So instead of finding out there is a certain pest in the field and applying the recommended pest control and being done with it, there  needs to be different combinations of organic product/timing/elevation to make it work.  It is different every time. The motto of the farm is “live and let live” while we were in the fields there were many dragonflies and ladybirds – all the plants, animals and insects need to stay to keep farm diverse and healthy. The farm is 150 years old although it wasn’t always organic.

Each of TPI’s farms has a joint body that includes workers from the farms.  Their head secretary and mediator is a woman named Chandrakala.  Her family is proud of her that she is making a difference in villagers’ lives every day. She helps present the Annual Development Program – (it reminded me of how Bridgehead works) where all members of the farm are invited to attend and they are shown how the farm did in the previous year and what goals there are for the upcoming year. All FLO information and policies are translated in local language and posted for transparence. Workers work maximum 8 hour days with lunch break or get paid overtime. A new initiative is investing in Social Security bonds for workers with fair trade premiums. They are getting ready for a health fair on May 12 – they are pairing up with NGOs to have an information fair for workers with different booths set up.

Canadian Brewer’s Cup and Cup Taster’s Event is this Weekend!

Come on down to our Roastery this weekend and watch some of Canada’s best baristas compete for the Canadian Brewer’s Cup and Cup Taster’s Event. The winners will move on to represent Canada in the international competitions in Nice, France and Melbourne, Australia.

The events are on Saturday and Sunday so come cheer on Bridgehead’s own Nick Ladouceur and Stephane Lawrence who will be participating!

Here is the schedule for the weekend:

Saturday   April 20th

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Brewe’rs Cup Preliminary Round
11:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. Cup Taster’s Preliminary Rounds
12:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Break for Lunch
1:00 p.m. – 4 p.m. Brewer’s Cup Open Round

Sunday   April 21st

11:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. Brewer’s Cup Finals (top 6)
11:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. Cup Taster’s Final Round and Awards Ceremony
3 pm. Brewer’s Cup Awards Ceremony


For more information, here is the website for the event: http://brewersandtasters.com/

Easter Weekend Hours

Here are our store hours over the Easter weekend:

362 Richmond Rd. (at Churchill)
Good Friday (March 29): Closed
Saturday, March 30: 6:30 am – 6:00 pm
Easter Sunday, March 31: Closed
Easter Monday, April 1st: 6:30 am – 6:00 pm

151 O’Connor (at Slater) and 344 Slater (in between Kent and Lyon)
Closed Good Friday through to Easter Monday.

109 Bank St. (at Albert) and 96 Sparks St. (at Metcalfe)
Good Friday (March 29): 6:30 am – 9:00 pm
Saturday, March 30: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Easter Sunday, March 31: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Easter Monday, April 1st: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

130 Anderson St. (at Preston)
Good Friday (March 29): 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 30: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Easter Sunday, March 31: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Easter Monday, April 1st: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm

All other stores:
Good Friday (March 29): 6:30 am – 9:00 pm
Saturday, March 30: 6:30 am – 10:00 pm
Easter Sunday, March 31: 6:30 am – 9:00 pm
Easter Monday, April 1st: 6:30 am – 9:00 pm