The independent coffee universe in Canada is about to be showcased to the world as the first episodes of Common Grounds TV are set to air in the coming weeks. CGTV is the culmination of an investigative yet humorous look at the otherwise serious coffee industry in Canada.
Last September, Producers Edan Marshall and Nik Green took to the road as part of a 25,000 kilometre trek undertaken to find the best and brightest baristas, roasters and cafes in the country.
The series covers everything from how-to segments on the shores of the Atlantic and the Krups Canadian National Barista Competition in Toronto, to a behind the scenes look at Canada's number one organic fair trade roaster set in the heart of the Rockies.
The idea for the twenty-part web series was hatched when Marshall and Green became frustrated with locating fine coffee during their road trips around British Columbia. Utilizing skills from their respective careers in Architecture and Film Production, the duo decided to start big and cover the whole country, from coast to coast, after receiving support from Krups Canada.
"Krups saw what we were trying to do and were excited to come on board, knowing that we would incur significant costs out of pocket to pull off our goals for the series," said Green. Aside from the leading home machine manufacturer, major roasters Mystique Coffee and Kicking Horse Coffee bookended the country with support and appearances on the show.
"All of our sponsors have made it possible to manage such a large undertaking. We never expected to have 20 episodes worth of content for the web, but the more we became known, the more people wanted to be on the show," adds Marshall.
After the 15,000 km trip cross country, they added another 10,000 in British Columbia by embarking on various trips throughout the winter and spring to the Kootenays and the Rockies. While the mileage was high, the pair found the indie coffee community to be very tight from coast to coast with many baristas recommending other must-see places and faces across Canada.
"As far as the community, the coffee community is amazingly tight knit Canada wide. We ran into some, let's say, communication issues in Montreal on the way over but learned from it on the way back and found a way to co-exist with the locals....kinda," Green explained.
Green and Marshall's travels successfully netted them enough fodder for a series that could go on for many more episodes, not all of the action can be used on TV, Green commented.
"Filmmaking is challenging enough before adding a grueling schedule such as ours. We would roll into cafes either exhausted or vibrating from sampling all day," said Green. "To combine the schedule with being in confined quarters for 30 consecutive days was a challenge we hadn't encountered yet on other shoots. On top of that from purely a filmmaking standpoint, cafes are some of the worst environments on the planet to shoot in. Between the machines, people and busy spaces it becomes very hard to obtain quality sound and video. We tried pulling owners out front of their spaces but found them to be out of their element sometimes so we worked with the spaces as best we could."
Balancing the serious intensity of the industry with humour was a key component to the long time friends.
"We're from the Kids in the Hall generation, and raised by the Monty Python generation, so humour was always in our plans for the series," Green added.
Examples of this can be seen in segments where the pair attempt to lure a cow for fresh milk, brew coffee through a mesh back hat in the prairies, and install a full service espresso bar in their Audi.
The half-year long project has exceeded expectations with plans for series two and three in the works.
Where are they off to for the next series?
"The world?" asked Green.
"It makes sense given our company name," adds Marshall, with the dead-pan humour they are fast becoming known for.
Tune in to the series at: