Little did Carl Dubé realize six years ago when he set out to buy some equipment from a defunk coffee shop that it would be a life-changing experience.

“I was always passionate about coffee” he says. “I was looking at buying a professional espresso grinder for home.” What he ended up with also included a roaster and $900 worth of green coffee, which he set up in his garage in Vaudreuil. A year later, in February 2014, Totem Roasters was incorporated.

The company is a family affair, with Dubé and his wife, Nancy Kaudel as owners, and Nancy’s brother Bruce, as Director of Operations.

“At first, we were roasting just for family and friends,” says Nancy. But word of the taste and quality of the coffee got around and they soon acquired their first commercial customer, Le Nichoir Wild Bird Conservation Centre in Hudson, Québec.

“Le Nichoir was interested in Bird Friendly® coffee, that protects northern birds’ winter habitats,” Nancy explains. “The certification comes from the Smithsonian in Washington,” she notes, “and Totem/Nichoir is the only certified roaster actively selling and promoting in Québec, as far as we know.” Le Nichoir sells the coffee as a fundraiser. Since then, several of their corporate sponsors have signed on.

Coffee for good causes

Vankleek Hill first came onto the radar when the company participated in Festival of Flavours two years ago. “We loved it here,” Nancy says. “The locals were so friendly, we decided this is where we wanted our business.” Dubé and his brothers own the building at the corner of Highway 34 and Main Street, where Totem is located. The roastery now occupies the lower floor of the building while Pink Bow Tie sells Totem coffee upstairs.

Totem has sold Fairtrade coffee for a year and a half and since this spring, they are also certified organic. They have added some commercial customers and have just opened an online store. “We’re  looking for partners who support good causes,” Dubé says. The company roasts on demand and switches inventory every two weeks or so. This way beans are always fresh.

Totem Coffee is available at Pink Bow Tie in Vankleek Hill. For more information on the company go to: