Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Keegan Street, Co-Founder of Rooftop Coffee Roasters, located in Fernie, British Columbia, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Rooftop Coffee Roasters is a family-owned coffee company operating in the mountains of Ktunaxa Territory (Fernie, BC). We source, roast, and brew coffee all under one roof, in the heart of historic downtown. We also supply roasted coffee to a variety of wholesale partners like cafes, restaurants, retailers (etc.) across North America. We're building equity into our green coffee sourcing model by prioritizing clear communication, transparency, shared risk, and rock-solid commitments every harvest. The coffee industry at large is still inequitable and unsustainable for the majority of coffee growers and farm workers, so we're trying to change that in our supply chain.

In our cafe, we're trying to bring as many people into our world of coffee as we can! We're building an approachable and inviting culture of coffee so anyone can feel comfortable learning more, no matter their experience level. Overall, we aren't here to be snobs or gatekeepers; we just want to source delicious coffee and share it with our community.

Tell us about yourself

When I was 16 years old, I got interested in coffee, so I bought a small home roasting machine and convinced my parents to let me start experimenting with coffee roasting at home. The first roast was in the kitchen, but after smoking up the house, I was sent up to the patio on the rooftop. Hence the name - Rooftop Coffee. When I was about to graduate high school, I had started selling coffee to some friends and family, and we started considering opening a full-fledged business.

My parents became my business partners. We tracked down a commercial coffee roasting machine in Montreal, began ordering our first pallet of green coffee, and were off! Today, the three of us are still managing the business, but now with a team of 6 baristas and a café. We're motivated each day by the same thing that got us started: a love for coffee.

We quickly realized there's a never-ending amount to learn in the coffee industry and countless aspects we can improve upon; that is the biggest motivator, finding what we can improve upon, learn, refine, and even innovate.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is building a strong team. I truly love working with every person who has joined us at Rooftop, and it's been so inspiring to be surrounded by a variety of skillsets, values, and personalities. It really fuels our day-to-day creativity and opens up possibilities you can't tap into on your own, necessarily. It's not something I take for granted, and building a solid working culture takes dedicated attention, so it's something I'm very proud of.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

While building a strong team has been so valuable, it's also a source of challenges. Personally, having started Rooftop with a small team and largely managing the coffee program on my own, I found it difficult to delegate once we started growing our team. When you're so used to doing everything, it can be easy to think that you have to do everything. So it took a bit of time to stop being such a control freak, but learning to trust your team and collaborate is incredibly rewarding!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do your own thing. Don't try to do what someone else is doing. There's a difference between being inspired by others and just thinking you need to be a copy of another business in order to succeed. It's also way more fulfilling to follow a path you're personally passionate about and invested in.
  2. That being said, find good mentors. A crucial piece of learning for me was finding professionals in the coffee industry who I could turn to when I had questions and could provide information, contacts, or tips to avoid some of the mistakes they'd made. It's good to be self-directed, but there's a lot of wasted energy and money you can avoid by learning from others.
  3. Be flexible and open to new ideas. Early on, I had a very rigid and purist image of what I wanted our company to be. Being able to grow beyond that without letting go of our core values was very important in us becoming the brand we are today, so don't forget to be humble and accepting of ideas that you might resist initially.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

It's supposed to be fun! I try to remember that as often as possible. Sure it's a lot of hard work, long hours, and stress, but at the end of the day, we're doing this because we want to get enjoyment and fulfillment from this project. If it stops being fun, why did you bother doing this?

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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