In the beginning there was light (and smoke)
Our company was largely influenced by the coffee scenes in San Francisco and Milan. Our humble beginnings however were about as far away from those places as you can get. It all started in the basement of our home in North Vancouver. This is where Doug Finley and Andrew Wentzel started the long journey of what is now Moja Coffee.
On a small air roaster, we took beans that we had purchased and started sampling them. At first we burned most of them. Slowly the roasting got better, and then we experimented with different blends. We became cult figures to our friends, who wanted to have fresh roasted coffee. We had a business plan already in place, but we needed to refine it. So in the spring of 2003, we became friends with Gary Sawyer, the owner of Fidalgo Bay Roasting in Mount Vernon Washington and the rest they say is history.
In the first few months before the company started, we lived, ate and breathed everything coffee. We traveled to Africa to visit coffee plantations and also spent time in San Francisco to train on Probat roasters. We attended coffee shows and probably walked into every major cafe from here to Seattle.
In the spring of 2004, we decided to name the company Moja, because it was the Swahili word for “one”. The name represented what we believed was the best way to showcase coffee (offer single origin beans) and it honoured family roots (Andrew’s father was born in Moshi Tanzania).
Our first location was in North Vancouver near the Capilano Mall. We took over a former mechanics garage and began official operations in April of 2004. We stayed at that site until the spring of 2008 when we moved across town to our current facility on Rupert Street in North Van. This was the major turning point for Moja, as we opened our first cafe in the front of the roasting operation. We finally had a home to showcase our products instead of sending people elsewhere to sample our coffee.
We still have our headquarters on Rupert, and now have expanded to add a second cafe on Commercial Drive. Look for even more expansion in the future as the book of Moja continues to be written.