Located in a small Mile End loft, an electric Bellwether coffee roasting machine hums away, producing small batches from Guatemala, Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil and Tanzania sourced through carbon neutral producers and importers. Once they’re packaged in compostable bags, it can then be shipped out by bike or electric car to anywhere in the Greater Montreal region.
That’s Binocle Café, a unique operation in Quebec that carries the title of the province’s first completely carbon neutral coffee. It’s also the province’s first “climate positive” coffee, where the company has exceeded its emission targets twice over from Carbone boréal, a greenhouse gas offset program and research institute at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.
“We’re not only neutral, we’re taking preventative actions toward the climate by (avoiding the production of) twice the emissions we could be making,” explains Binocle’s founder Iouri Philippe Paillé. “In a study we commissioned to get our certification, we projected to produce 23 tonnes of emissions in our first year of operation, so we decided to double our carbon compensation to that of 46 tonnes.”
In order to achieve it, Paillé said that his company couldn’t compromise on a single facet of the business, whether it was the farms where the coffee was grown, how it’s imported, stored, or roasted. Most commercial roasters run on gas and tend to emit smoke in the process, so Binocle’s Bellwether electrical process — producing around five pounds of coffee every 20 minutes — forms an integral part.
“Our roasting is zero emission, our deliveries are zero emission; we wanted to address what we could cut out on our end first, and then we went through all the process of cutting all the emissions, from the farm to the client,” Paillé says. “That’s been a big part of the goals we wanted to achieve.”
“In terms of sustainability, there are so many problems with coffee; once you start looking at this thing you drink at least once a day and often multiple times a day, you can’t unsee it,” Paillé says. “There are problems with the retribution to farms, to the carbon footprint, the freshness and sourcing of it — once I started reading into it, I guess I found a calling in it.”
A cofounder of the l’Équitable student coffee shop at Cégep de Sherbrooke and a filmmaker of more than a decade, Paillé says that this new company gives him a renewed sense of purpose following the creation of the Le Ketch microbrewery in Gaspésie.
“I just had enough of advertising, I didn’t feel like I was contributing to much in terms of my purpose in life,” he says. “Even though I love movie-making and I had a lot of fun, I wanted to create something that had a greater impact. Coffee’s been a passion for so many years that it was a no-brainer to go that route.”
Bincole Café is now available for delivery across the Greater Montreal region; orders can be placed via cafebinocle.com.