VERY IMPORTANT PRESS RELEASE: Barren Ground Coffee celebrates first year

Barren Ground Coffee celebrates first year

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - Local beloved small batch artisan coffee roaster and 2018 Breakout New Business of the Year nominee Barren Ground Coffee (BGC) will celebrate their first year in business this Sunday, November 25 during their regular 11-3 shop hours.

The public is invited to join in on the possibly over hyped celebrations! BGC will be serving free locally roasted drip coffee, giving out free Fat Fox scones with free clotted cream and free jam (only 50, so first come first free serve), and handing out free collectible buttons.There will also be free high end door prizes and possibly free surprise discounts.

In addition, BGC will use the anniversary to launch their new 2019 handcrafted personalized pottery mugs. They are designed and created by local artisan Beth Harden of Shake a Tail Feather. BGC will also have a number of manual coffee brewers, new crew cut sweaters and t-shirts from Erasmus Apparel, toques, and other awesome mugs for sale.

“We are pleased with how the north has embraced fresh roasted specialty coffee during our first year in business,” said Eric Binion. “As a small business, we didn’t know what to expect, but our first year has shown that northerners will continue to support startups in the north. We feel we have built a bit of a foundation of loyal customers that will help us grow our business and continue to allow us to develop and offer new products and services”.

Barren Ground Coffee couldn’t have survived without the help of other Yellowknife and NWT small businesses. BGC is forever grateful for the businesses that assisted them throughout their first year. Mahsì!

Barren Ground Coffee includes Indigenous language labelling on bags

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - Barren Ground Coffee, a specialty coffee microroaster, is pleased to announce expansion plans into Nunavut. The company must adhere to federal food regulations that include bilingual labeling if they wish to retail outside of the NWT. As they have updated some of their labelling to reflect French, Barren Ground Coffee has also included two Indigenous languages.

“As we hope to soon be retailing in Nunavut, we wanted to feature Inuktitut on our packaging,” said Eric Binion, co-founder of Barren Ground Coffee. “In addition, there are over 2,000 people who speak Tłı̨chǫ in the NWT, and NWT Community Survey data shows that that number is increasing. We took note of that. Ideally we would have all eleven NWT official languages, but for now we are limited to a small label space on our hand stamped bags”.

The use of Indigenous languages in the NWT is on the decline, going against the national trend. Barren Ground Coffee recognizes the importance of language revitalization and sustaining languages in the north. “As a northern business, we will do what we can to make local languages visible”, said Binion. “We praise any other companies who do business in the north that recognize our eleven official languages and make an effort to include them”.

Barren Ground Coffee worked with artist Andrew Hall and Tłı̨chǫ translator Mary Siemens and Inuktitut translator Suzie Napayok in order to finalize the text. “We are not the first commercial food operation to include Indigenous language labelling, but we would make a safe bet that we are certainly the first coffee roasting company!”, said Binion.

With the new labelling, Barren Ground Coffee has set in motion plans to begin retailing at partner locations in Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, and Baker Lake and hopes to be on shelves by early 2019.


Camp Coffee

We have put together a small supply of retail at the Roastery that will equip all campers this summer with the best coffee set up you can get. Everything we have chosen we have used on our own weekend trips or multi-month expeditions. They are all light weight, not prone to break, and are easy to clean. Come in and get your fresh roasted coffee, grinder, and setup for the weekend!

Hario grinder.jpg

Hario Skereton Grinder

A hand grinder is an essential part of your camp kit and this one is the best. It is light weight, has a ceramic conical burr set, and a sturdy handle. This grinder will provide you with consistently ground fresh camp coffee. You can easily adjust the grinder size and it is suitable for any brew method.


Aerobie Aeropress

The Aeropress is a large BPA-free plastic syringe with a filter at the end. It is easy to use and makes around 250 ml of coffee per serving. You can make stronger coffee or dilute it and it takes a couple of minutes. The set up comes with filters, which can be composted (or burned in the camp fire). It is also super easy to clean!


Hario V60-02

Pour over! Our favourite coffee prep method. Whether you are using it to make a pot of coffee or just one cup, this is the easiest and most popular way to make coffee. Get some nice filters and you will be the hero at camp this summer. The Hario V60 is BPA-free and shatter resistant. It will use #2 coffee filters, which can be composted (or burned in the camp fire).

Barren Ground Coffee sponsors local athlete Kerry Wheler (and the Frostbite50!)

Barren Ground Coffee is a proud sponsor of Frostbite 50 athlete Kerry Wheler. This will be Kerry's 5th race (2017, 2016, 2015, 2012). Previous highlights include placing first in the womans solo in 2015 and skiing with a large stuffed walleye attached to her backpack.

Kerry skiing on the big lake.

Kerry skiing on the big lake.

How did you get into cross country skiing?

I skied around the horse pasture as a kid, but didn't really learn about gliding until I was in University.  I begged the coach to let me take a "learn to skate ski" class (normally reserved for phys.ed students and I was a music student).  I fell so much and my legs burned but I just loved the motion.  I ended up skiing on the Augustana Vikings ski team and am forever grateful for that opportunity.

What was your first FB50 like?

Awesome.  I love skiing 50km.  It becomes meditative to just repeat the same movement for that duration of time.  In 2012 my first child was 1.5 years, so I remember it being one of the first days after becoming a mother where I could just be by myself, doing my own thing.  I didn't need to do anything or think of anything.... just one leg in front of the other.  It was so empowering to just move through the beautiful landscape.   


What was the most memorable (or gruelling) FB50?

Well, as my husband Brett says, "It doesn't have to be fun to be fun".  There are usually moments of discomfort in 50km but that's part of the fun of it.  One year, Prospserous Lake was a sugar bowl of faceted snow and when you pole planted, it seemed like there was no bottom.  I knew it was going to be a slog, but I just stayed positive to focus on ravens gliding above the island, and the incredible quiet that surrounded me.  It turns out that is one of my best memories.  Overcoming adversity feels good I guess.


How will 2018 FB50 play out?

It's always exciting to do the first lap on the trails and then head down onto the lake to create a long string of people moving across Back Bay.  All participants are so supportive of each other and it's fun to share the camaraderie of skiing 50km together, no matter how fast or slow we happen to go on that particular day.  It's a wonderful route and a wonderful event to be a part of.  

Favourite Barren Ground Coffee pre-race?

I love the Peruvian Dark decaf.  The beans are so fragrant and oily.  I really appreciate that we can get such freshly roasted coffee in Yellowknife - it makes a big difference! I also value that BGC carries fair-trade organic, products. 

Notable Yellowknife ski stats

2017- Jackrabbits Coach of the Year

2016-2018- Yellowknife Ski Club Events Director

2015 - Placed 1st womans solo FB 50


About Barren Ground Coffee's involvement in the FrostBite 50

"The goal of Barren Ground Coffee's Frostbite 50 partnership is to help local ski racers in Yellowknife," said Eric Binion. "We know that the racers are up against demanding odds in the 2018 FB50. The wind will be howling, probably in your face in all directions somehow. It will be cold. No one will have enough wax on their skis because it will get scrapped off and their feet will be going everywhere. People will be moaning as they go up and down on the snowmobile bumps across all the portages. In the least, they should have some nice, fresh, and locally roasted organic fair trade coffee in the morning before they go so they can remember those lingering tastes through out the day".

Barren Ground Coffee will be a proud sponsor of this years' Frost Bite 50 and will be providing free coffee before the event to racers and spectators. Head on down to the Ski Club on Saturday March 17 to cheer Kerry and everyone else off!

About Barren Ground Coffee's involvement in NWT sports

Barren Ground Coffee is also a proud sponsor of this years' Arctic Winter Games in Fort Smith and Hay River. In addition, we have sponsored other northern atheletes and expediations.

New stamps & Bijou Boutique

Barren Ground Coffee has partnered with Bijou Boutique. Bijou will be selling our coffee starting next week through their store on Franklin. They are open Mon-Sat, 10 am - 5/6 pm.

New stamps!


We have received feedback on our bags and are adding additional information in order to help people decide which coffee is best suited for them. We will have stamps for most of our coffees, but some will still come with the old Origin/Roast stamp.

For the stamps we partnered with design legend Andrew Hall. If you haven't check out his art, you should!


The stamps are broken down into a few categories:

Country and Region: We noted the country of origin and the region.

Certifications: The coffee can be certified as organic, fair trade, or Rain Forest Alliance. If there is no certification it is a "conventional" coffee. On our non-fancy stamped bags these will be noted as ORG, FT, (or FTO for both), or RFA.


Roast: We note roast by the temperature at which the coffee is dropped from the roaster. We use more common terms such as light, medium, medium dark, dark, and French, rather than City, City+, Full City, etc.


Processing:  Coffee can be processed a number of ways. Each way impacts the overall flavour of the coffee.


Altitude: Elevation has a major impact on the way a coffee tastes. High elevations produce hard, dense beans, and therefore have higher concentrations of sugars and more nuanced flavours. This is because as the coffee plant grows at higher elevations the conditions are harsher, which slows the bean's maturation process and provides more time for complex sugars to develop.


Cupping notes: Subjective cupping notes from Eric and Cory are included on the bag. "Tastes like a pool toy smells in the sun" did not make the cut (don't worry we don't have a coffee that tastes like that).

Our logo: mining, patches ... and knitting

A few people have asked us where we came up with our logo. Perhaps unsurprisingly the idea was drawn from Yellowknife's history of mining and mine patches. We asked local historian Ryan Silke for some inspiration and he sent us a few photos of patches that miners and their families would wear on their clothing.


The following is a brief explanation  of the patches by local historian Ryan Silke:

The gold mines of Yellowknife, and the camps that grew to house workers and their families, were communities to themselves, populated by citizens that took pride in their identity. As a natural result, they exercised a friendly rivalry with other mining camps, manifested most often in competitive sports - hockey, baseball, and curling. Uniforms and jackets distributed by the mine's recreation clubs to their citizens, often of the leather 'teamster'-style with embroidered patch, so common of the 1950s generation, were worn around town to show off one's association with a particular mine or its sport team. 'Grizzlies', 'Cougars', 'Hogans', 'Huskies', 'Indians', or popular local business brands such as 'Frame and Perkins' or 'Lanky's Angels' represented the elite athletes of Yellowknife in its earliest years.



After speaking with Ryan we met and discussed these ideas with former Yellowknifer Andrew Hall. He immediately got to work and drafted  a logo that would be reminiscent of the mining period of the 30s - 40s and linked to the ideas brought forth in the mine patches.





As seen on the left, the font typeface he chose for our business name "Barren Ground Coffee" has the look of the classic embroidered patch, as if it is stitched on.






The image to the right shows the interior of the logo which is a stereotypical head frame. Behind it are the scrawny, scraggly, and ubiquitous jack pine.

People have noted that we are Barren Ground, a synonym of the tundra, and have mentioned the trees in our logo. Our name is a play on words (ground coffee?) and the owners of Barren Ground Coffee know well that the use of barren grounds to explain the tundra is a great misnomer, as the region is rich with beautiful flora and fauna. Some of this flora does include scrawny jack pines!

In the next month or so we will be releasing our very own patch. You will be able to purchase it on its own or it will be included in our "knit-your-own-toque-kit". The kit will include locally dyed wool.


Good day Fort Smith!


We have partnered with Anna's Home Cooking and have sent down two coffees that will be sold at the Thebacha Campus Mon-Fri 8-4. We sent down two freshly roasted coffees this week.


Brazil Fazenda Saquarema

  • Grown at 1000-1200 meters elevation
  • Organic certification
  • Naturally processed
  • Sun dried on a patio

BGC cupping notes: Low acidity, complex with a smooth, silky body, and a lingering peanut butter finish accompanied by notes of cocoa powder and almonds.

Ethiopian Limmu Burka Gardina Estate

  • Grown at over 1800 meters elevation
  • Organic certification
  • Naturally processed
  • Sun dried

BGC cupping notes: Sweetly intricate, oranges, berries, roasted cacao in aroma and cup. Crisp, lively acidity; light mouth feel. All flavor notes carry into the sweet crisp, flavour-saturated finish


Fundamentals of brewing: the pour over

Disclaimer: There are a hundred ways to brew a cup of coffee just like there are a hundred ways to cook an egg. We can provide a rough guide based on our experience and SCAA guidelines, however, you should tweak the process to your heart's content in order to find your coffee sweet spot.


What you need

  • Dripper (ceramic or plastic)
  • #2 filter (or reusable filter)
  • Fresh, locally roasted coffee (try a nice single origin)
  • Hot water
  • Mug
  • Kettle
  • Timer (smart phone)
  • Grinder (recommended)
  • Scale (recommended)


We will aim for a 17:1 ratio (17 grams of water for every 1 gram of coffee). Therefore, you will need around 15 g (2 large table spoons) of coffee for 250 ml (average coffee mug size).

Step 1: Heat your water and bring it to a boil. 

Step 2: Place your #2 filter in the dripper. Place dripper over your mug. Without any coffee in the filter, pour some of the hot water over the filter and into the mug.  This does three things: 1. It will make it easier for keeping the filter in place; 2. It will warm your mug up; and 3. It will rinse the filter paper. Don't believe us? Depending on your filter paper you will see that the water in your mug is yellowish. Taste it! Might taste like paper or bleach. You don't want that in your coffee. Pour that hot papery water out from your mug!

Step 3: Add the appropriate amount of freshly ground coffee. You want to aim for a medium to fine grind (something resembling sand or table salt). Again, you will have to experiment with each coffee and make changes to your grinder.

Step 3: Pour enough water over the coffee to saturate the coffee and then stop for ~30 seconds and let the fresh coffee bloom. We do a very quick stir to make sure all the coffee is being drenched by the water (this can be contentious!).

Step 4: After waiting ~30 seconds continue to pour while making sure all the grounds are saturated. Again, you could do another quick (and contentious) stir of the coffee to make sure is all being extracted and settling well.

We will be on tap at the NWT Brewing Co.


You can now sample our fine coffee at The Woodyard! The NWT Brew Co. will celebrate 2 years of pouring local NWT beer in the North with a special collaboration Anniversary Breakfast Stout featuring Barren Ground Coffee!

BGC provided a dark roast Sumatran organic coffee from the Tunas Indah Coffee Farmers Cooperative in Indonesia. It is the same coffee we offered as our french roast! The coffee is a mixture of 3 varietals and the beans are fully washed, which takes more skill and generally produces a very high quality coffee.

Join BGC staff at The Woodyard Saturday December 30th for a night of celebration including an East Meets West themed tapas featuring Pork & Vegetable Asian buns, sticky pork ribs, fried tofu, tempura ling cod and much more! No tickets, no cover! 

For more info check the NWT Brew Co Facebook page.