There’s just something special about a well-built, tastefull -designed espresso trailer. Long a staple of our Build-Outs series, today’s entry takes us to Niagra, Ontario, home of the new Groundswell Coffee trailer—”a custom trailer on a brand new chassis from the ground up.” Let’s roll!
As told to Sprudge by Alexander Mills.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We’re Kristie and Alex, close friends and coffee lovers that are committed to establishing a culture of experiencing specialty coffee in the Niagara region. We also happen to be lovers of people—that includes the people who produce the coffee we brew, the people we serve it to, and everyone in between.
To us coffee is a ritual, an experience, and a specialty product that we want to share with our community. That’s what Groundswell is all about—taking the time to source great coffee from thoughtful roasters and brew it with intention.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Groundswell started humbly, on a table under a tent at various local spots. We had a little pour-over setup but a large heart to serve specialty coffee to the people of Niagara. In the winter of 2020 we decided to grow our little business and build it into a cafe. We tossed around the idea of building with brick and mortar, but we really valued being able to bring coffee to people wherever they are. So we built with wheels instead, and partnered with a local trailer manufacturer to build the trailer of our dreams. Instead of refurbishing a small Boler or a large Airstream, we build a custom trailer on a brand new chassis from the ground up. That enabled us to build it to the specs that we preferred to ensure that it wasn’t too much or too little for us in any way. The trailer is a bit wider and taller than most which gives us the flexibility to work comfortably, and also permits us a bit of space to grow as our business grows. We’re proud to offer espresso based drinks, batch brewed filter coffee, a handmade slow bar, and a few other things in between.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee is a humble and patient one. There’s a large specialty coffee culture on the internet (thanks Instagram!), but locally here in Niagara we’re just finding our feet. Even before we built the trailer our mission was to partner in relationship with roasters who do their business equitably, and then introduce that specialty experience to the people of Niagara. The work is patient in the sense that it takes time to build culture, it’s not something that can be rushed. But even in the first months of being established in our trailer on wheels, we’re seeing an increased level of coffee literacy in our community here in Niagara and we can only hope that we’ve played a part.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Our trailer is small but we pack a lot of gear into it. We pull espresso on a La Marzocco Linea Mini, and we’ve paired that with a Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Pro grinder. For decaf espresso and batch brewed coffees, we grind on the Mahlkönig X54. We brew handmade coffees with an Origami, V60, or an AeroPress, and we grind with a Fellow Ode.
We just recently installed a new Curtis G4 ThermoPro and plumbed it beneath the counter with a FloJet and two five-gallon water tanks filled with our remineralized brewing water. It’s been quite the upgrade from our Moccamaster days, enabling us to serve more people at scale and dial those batch brews in with precision. A two group espresso machine may be in our future, as we’ve pushed our Linea Mini to its limits a time or two. We’re in no rush on that one, though.
How is your project considering sustainability?
At Groundswell we feature a new Canadian roaster every month, working intimately with a small selection of intentionally selected coffees. In part we do this to mitigate waste, and we’ve been able to reach our goal every month of selling out of each coffee before moving on to the next roaster. In addition to that, we have a robust reduce, reuse, recycle system that applies to each part of our operation. This looks like recycling papers and plastics at the end of each shift, offering spent coffee grounds to customers for free to fertilize their gardens, washing and sanitizing growlers of cold brew for reuse, and more.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Thank you 🙂