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Let’s eat! Old Rock is still Sudbury’s OG coffee roaster

For nearly 20 years, the Minto Street coffee house has been the Nickel City’s go-to for organic, fair trade, fresh roasted java

The hum of the old roasting machine inside Old Rock downtown comes with a wafting bittersweet and malty scent like no other.

Luc and Carole Roy who own the coffee roastery kitty corner to the Sudbury Arena, started the business in the basement of their Val Caron house almost 20 years ago in 2004.  

They incorporated the business two years later and then moved to open a storefront with the name Old Rock, a name conceived by their children.

Back then, the only thing that existed as far as a coffee house was the Starbucks Chapters location and the Roy’s have outlived even that.

Carole takes on the role of master roaster and is the brainchild behind the idea.  

“We lived in California and Carole was a coffee fanatic. She got to know the local roasters and when we returned to Canada, she could not find the good, freshly roasted coffee we were looking for and decided she would roast coffee,” Luc said.

Those first days, they were every neighbour's best friend brewing one set of beans at a time.  A far cry from the 70 varieties offered each day now at the Old Rock shop.

The chalked up menu boards at the roastery offer everything from espresso, to exotic coffee.

There are also single origin and blends from places like Sumatra Gayo Mountain, Kenya, Brazil, Nicaragua and Papua New Guinea.  

In addition to that, there are a variety of lattes and organic and flavoured teas for patrons.  

The Roy’s also keep a well stocked pastry fridge with items courtesy of the downtown age -old bakery, Golden Grain.  

In addition to the roastery downtown, the duo sell their licensed coffee to four locations in Sudbury with the largest vendor being the Rock Garden Cafeteria in the hospital.  

Bike store, Sessions Ride Company as well as Maple Hill Farms and the Knowhere Public House buys the beans to brew in-house too.

They have also extended their reach to vendors in Kapuskasing and Cochrane.  

There will be room for more vendors but not until the new Probat roasting machine arrives from the manufacturer later this fall.  

“This new roaster is like a computer. It’s not like our current one from the 1970s. It will produce six times as much coffee in the same timeframe,” Luc said.

Old Rock now offers a monthly subscription option for customers.  

The first batch will be the hot commodity known as Shack by the Lac, a chocolatey and peanutty dark roast.  

Other favourites are seasonal coffees like the lightly flavoured Christmas Jazz variety. The IV Drip dark roast at the hospital and the medium-blend HSN Heroes are also big sellers.

The Sommelier E Guide on the website offers suggestions based on the kind of flavouring you like in your java.

It’s something Luc created as the business development and graphic designer working behind the scenes.  

Luc admits that the market in Sudbury has certainly changed for the better with a shift in customer habits.

“In 2006, people did not want to pay extra for organic fair trade coffee and now we have Rainforest Alliance options, among other options. People are seeking high-quality coffee now.”

And that’s why the online sales have also improved with sales all over Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. There are even international sales to places like Saudi Arabia, Tokyo and Europe.  

With fall there is also a boost of pumpkin spice sales. And with 50 pumpkin varieties, customers are sure to get their fix during sweater weather season.  

Old Rock is located at 212 Minto Street in the downtown core.  

Online orders offer free shipping to Sudburians at OldRock.ca.

Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.