Have you ever met someone who loves what they do so much, that their enthusiasm and tales just draw you right in? We had the absolute pleasure of meeting someone like that recently. He made us smile. Al Nemeth runs Holy Smoke Coffee in South Surrey and he absolutely loves his job!
When he was a young boy, his grandfather used to roast coffee beans in a skillet on the open fire. This has always stuck with Al, who has been roasting beans at home for years. Al founded Holy Smoke Coffee in 1999. We got a kick out of the fun story of how this name was chosen. He had been hosting a kid’s birthday party and while he was roasting some beans on a BBQ roaster, the kids started to cause a ruckus. He left the beans to tend to the children, and the beans began to burn. Al was in no mood for joking around, but as the kids took great delight in the burning beans one of them yelled “holy smoke!” … and it stuck.
For the first few years, he attended trade shows and carnivals on a part time basis. After retiring from his job in the paper industry, Al’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. One day his friend noticed a teepee, complete with drive through window, was available for rent on King George Highway. He encouraged Al to check it out. Six years later, Al continues to serve up dozens of cups every day. Each morning the organic beans are fresh roasted daily by Al himself, and you can absolutely taste the freshness. For those who don’t drink coffee, tasty tea and other drinks are available.
Holy Smoke Coffee is available in recyclable jars at the teepee. Bring the jar back when you’re done, to refill with freshly roasted organic coffee beans. It is also available at Choices Market in South Surrey. We tried the Dark & Delicious – it was fab! There is a coffee for everyone: Wild Mexican, Dark & Delicious, Dark Roasted Organic Blend, Indio, Costa Rican & Guatemalan.
We asked Al what his favourite part of his business is. Is it the peace of solitude when roasting the beans? Creating a perfect blend of beans for the tastiest cup of coffee around? “It’s the people,” he said. The regular customers and the new faces, they all make Al’s day. He recalls sharing customer’s griefs over deceased pets and lost jobs, and how great he felt seeing a little smile come through when he passed over a tasty cup of organic, fresh roasted coffee. While he adores his regular faces, Al says he loves to meet new people. If you’re in the neighbourhood, stop by for a visit to Holy Smoke Coffee. Bring your own cup and the first coffee is on Al! “Coffee tastes best in a ceramic mug,” Al tells us. You’ve heard it from the expert!
Al tells us it’s not always about making big bucks, it’s about truly enjoying what you do everyday. We absolutely, positively, 110% agree with you there, Al. Meeting hard-working entrepreneurs like you is what makes our hearts smile. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
Visit Al at the teepee from 6AM – 11AM, Monday through Friday. If you’re lucky, you’ll drive by to see the smoke billowing from the top of the teepee! If you’re interested in winning 2 jars of tasty Holy Smoke Coffee as well as this ‘Where’s My Coffee???’ t-shirt from the Valley Women’s Network, please leave a comment below. Winner to be announced March 1, 2010.