Who are you and what do you do?
Hi friends! My name is Lucas Spinosa and I'm the founder and roaster at Black Sheep Coffee Roasters here in Niagara! We opened our doors in August of 2015 with the goal of bringing specialty coffee and community to our area. I've spent many years performing as a drummer and that's how I met Ricky at Presstime. The arts are a vital part of our identity, inspiring us to highlight local talents. Coffee has always been a huge part of my life with my earliest memories amongst family with espresso in hand. During the lockdown in 2020 & 2021 we had to make a change at the shop and decided to close our kitchen and build an online store. With a change in direction we wanted to have a name reflecting that. We subsequently removed “lounge” and added “coffee roasters”. The name change came with a rebrand that reflected our personality. Welcome to the era of “COFFEE PUNK”..
What products and/or services did Presstime provide you on your last order? How did it help you?
Our last order was a banger! Presstime hooked us up with black soft style T’s with a stellar multicolour design from mutual homies at Quite Alright, embroidered patches, and Snapbacks in 2 different colours. This merch has helped us build on our coffee community in Niagara and across the country.
Where do you source your inspiration for the merch you create?
Ever since our rebrand we try to create animated representations of our mood, products, and personality. For instance our most famous character "Bones" is based off a skeleton statue we have in the cafe that was gifted to us the first year we opened. We now incorporate him in posters, gift cards, business cards, social media campaigns and more. When it comes to specific items we sell and give away, we like to see what people gravitate to through experimentation, and sometimes we get things we would want for ourselves!
What are some things you wish you knew before you got started in your business?
The thing I wish I knew before anything else is the importance of understanding you demographic and establishing a solid brand. If you aren't sure what you are, neither will your potential customers. The first 5 years of business were successful but the past 3 have been exponentially successful in large part due to putting what we do in the name (Black Sheep Coffee Roasters). This along with new graphics, colour palette, and a determined target audience have allowed us to grow in a more predictable and scaleable way.
Any words of advice for newcomers to your industry?
If you love what you do, money will come. If you love what you do, and do some things that other people love, the money will come much sooner. It's important to understand that if you are entering coffee because you love it, there will be some things that customers ask for that you don't want to serve. If you are careful, and thoughtful, you will be able to offer it in a way that doesn't compromise on your values and the quality of the product. An example in our shop would be dark roast. At first I was nervous to offer it because the ethos of specialty revolves around highlighting the best coffees from farmers around the globe, and dark roast seems antithetical to that. On the other hand, if people are drinking commodity and our dark roast is their gateway to specialty, that brings us a step closer to our goal.
Anything to add? Got anything cool coming up?
At Black Sheep we care about every single product and transaction. Myself, my wife Katie, mom Melissa, Paige, and everyone else who is and has been a part of this crew values the relationships we create in the cafe everyday. Coffee without people can't have community, community without coffee doesn't really exist. Cafes are the original barrier destroyer and have been throughout history. Cafes are the bars of the day and without the hangover. Cafes are the gathering place, coworking space, first date location, first concert venue, studying spot, and for me it's where I met the love of my life. It's not the walls, it's the people. We love every single one of you! Check out our site or instagram to learn more about our love of coffee and people!