From the fireline to the AeroPress, Calgary Heritage Roasting Company’s passion for both craft coffee and saving trees is infectious.
Now the minds behind the local coffee company are broadening their horizons with its new outdoor lifestyle apparel line that proves durability should be a necessity, not an option.
“It’s been a passion project and a dream for quite some time. We’ve always wanted to have an apparel line that did a little bit more than the stereotypical Gildan sweatshirt,” explains co-owner Mike Wenzlawe.
“As the company has grown and we’ve matured, I think the timing is perfect for something like this to come out. Not only will the brand be able to support it, but the community will, too.”
The launch of the new apparel line — dubbed C. Heritage Co. — coincides with the young company’s sixth birthday on Nov. 4.
The wild beginnings
Wenzlawe and Jamie Parker launched the company together in 2015. Before that, the duo were wildland firefighters for the Government of Alberta. That’s where they learned to roast coffee in the bush, of all places.
“Jamie would bring green beans out into the bush and a cast iron, then he would grind and brew up some cowboy coffee on the fireline just to kind of boost morale,” he says, adding it was a good opportunity to recharge.
“Because you’re on the line for 18, 20, 24 days at a time, you start to get a little bit squirrely.”
Since its inception, the company has also planted over 71,000 trees through the Buy a Bag = Plant a Tree program, one of its proudest accomplishments.
It’s all about giving back to the community as they continue to evolve, Wenzlawe says.
A successful transition for a couple of wildland firefighters
Over a camping trip with some buddies, the pair of friends decided they wanted to make a coffee for like-minded people. They wanted something easy, comfortable, and unassuming.
“Our idea hasn’t changed course, which was to create a product and an experience that elicits an emotional response, that connects people, and showcases our love and our passion for the outdoors.”
Calgary Heritage Roasting Company fondly thinks of itself as the “gateway drug” to craft coffee because of its approachability.
The roastery found the perfect home in the historic C.C. Snowdown building in Ramsey and has now grown to upwards of 10 staff as they distribute their coffee across the country.
“There wasn’t really a coffee roastery or a coffee shop that we felt comfortable in or wanted to hang out in. So we kind of built it, selfishly, for us and our friends. Then it evolved to make that brand group that much larger.”
The apparel clothing line is the next step in that ambitious evolution
“I think the coolest thing that happened in those six years is that it’s never really been about coffee, per se. It’s about a lifestyle brand. And it’s about a community connection. Those things are holding true and just getting stronger every day.”
C. Heritage Co. is a collection of rugged Canadian-made goods that will take anything the wilderness can dish out. Not only are they made in our country, but some of them are also made right here in Calgary.
“The idea is to have fashionable, purpose-built items. So there’s an intention behind all the pieces that we build that have a strong durability to them and that they’re outdoors inspired,” Wenzlawe says, adding it’s a daunting but rewarding venture.
“We are incredibly proud.”
The apparel line will house both an “Everyday” and “Handcrafted” collection featuring “camp proof” garments that are both technical and stylish for any adventure. Head online or in-person to 2020- 11th St. SE for the company’s birthday week sale where all roasted coffee is 40 per cent off until November 10th.
Know more about Calgary, every morning in just 5 minutes.
Get stories you won’t find anywhere else about the people, places, and businesses at the heart of our city.
By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Calgary Citizen.