Amelia Hamilton, owner of Moonshine BC Roasted Coffee in Quesnel, serves a cup of fresh brewed java to a customer at the Quesnel Farmers Market. (Barb Scharf photo)

Quesnel coffee roaster enjoys the challenge

Amelia Hamilton, a forest technician by trade, purchased Moonshine Coffee Roasters two years ago

A Quesnel coffee roaster loves everything about the craft.

Amelia Hamilton moved to the area from Montreal four years ago to work as a forest technician and ended up purchasing Moonshine Coffee Roasters, a local company.

“I was actually working with a fellow who owned this particular company — he was a summer student looking for something to do.”

Hamilton recalled how they talked about coffee all the time, and when he informed her was planning to leave Quesnel she asked him to teach her everything he knew and sell her the business.

He had started supplying stores and a couple of coffee shops with his beans, but never was a part of the Quesnel Farmers Market.

“A lot of people in town didn’t know about Moonshine Coffee, he did it in his back yard and had a really nice shed set up.”

Her biggest struggle when she bought the company was getting its name out and letting people know Quesnel had a local roaster.

Roasters are popping up everywhere, she added.

She apprenticed for three months learning how to roast, the little tricks and trades to source beans.

“I have a supplier, West Coast Coffee in Vancouver. They have a really cool job and get to travel around visiting farms and finding their favourite beans and all I have to do is call them and they ship up whatever I want.”

Slowly she is starting to travel herself to visit one coffee country each year. She went to Costa Rica in the spring.

Every country has different processes.

“Costa Rica has hot springs that I’ve been wanting to go to, but I also got to see quite a few different coffee plantations and farms. It was an awesome trip.”

Eventually she hopes to source her own beans.

Her coffee is sold in the grocery stores in Quesnel and her roaster is set up at Bouchie Lake Country Store.

“It’s a big kind of warehouse store and the whole back area has feed and hay and I rent a corner and converted it into my little shop. My roaster is quite a big machine that needs to be piped up to the ceiling.”

There is a little kitchen area and room to bag.

She’s a one-woman show with four different jobs packed into one.

With the COVID-19 pandemic she has not been doing forestry work, and said the longer she works solely on the coffee business she wonders if there is potential to rely on it solely.

“I’d like to open a coffee shop, but it’s also intimidating doing something like that by yourself.”

To brew a pot for herself, Hamilton is a strong believer in the French press. Holding one up, she said she brings it camping with her.

Using a Bialetti – stove top espresso maker – is also nice, she added, noting they are easy for camping. To make coffee at the farmers market she uses an electric mocha maker because they also make good constant coffee.

Glad she purchased the business, she said she was on the border line of harassing the previous owner not to just let it die.

“I get people who come across the market and see my sign, and say, ‘oh moonshine, is like the good stuff.’ It’s still the good stuff it’s just a different kind of kick.”

When she’s not roasting, brewing, selling coffee, or even working as a forester, she enjoys exploring the area.

“I haven’t really had that the last few years with two jobs, but COVID has kind of been a blessing in disguise in that sense that I’ve had time to go out to the Bowron Lakes.”

She visited Quesnel Lake for the first time recently.

“I’m a big explorer and like to find new places.”

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