Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow

FounderBirch Bark Coffee Company, Inc.

How do you take your coffee?

Black - I never mask the tastes of premium coffee. You lose out on the tasting notes on your palette.

Tell us about some of the challenges (and joys!) of being a coffee entrepreneur/member of the coffee community

I do not own a brick and mortar business as I chose e-commerce so that was a blessing in disguise with all that has happened during the pandemic. I miss meeting people in person during speaking engagements, in addition to the events where you have a chance to share your coffee and meet people.

How has being part of the BIPOC community strengthened or challenged your experience in Canadian coffee?

I believe seeing others becoming successful in the BIPOC community certainly inspires you. I see the industry opening the doors more to diverse businesses and listening to their start-ups and what they have to offer. However in that same breath it is knowing where to go to access the industry and who to talk to.

Has the Canadian coffee landscape changed in terms of diversity & inclusion since you've started working in it?

I think it slowly has. There are not many Indigenous coffee companies in Canada and fewer in the larger supply chains. Companies such as Birch Bark push for change and inclusion. If we can pioneer a pathway for other BIPOC businesses and inspire them then that is an important role. There is a shift happening in general where consumers care where their product comes from and what is in it. This is more so now as corporate business models are not in the forefront but rather the rise of social impacts and meaningful businesses that care about the environment.

If you could work towards ONE thing to increase diversity & inclusion in Canadian coffee, what would this be?

For myself it is about the shift in ‘thinking’ all businesses rely on consumers whether you are a large corporation or corner cafe. When you have a product that wins the hearts and minds of your consumer you have a platform and responsibility to properly educate and bring awareness to your social impact on our planet.

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