Bows & Arrows Coffee: A Revisit

Sometimes life surprises you in the most pleasant ways. On assignment for EAT Magazine, I was asked to cover a second look of Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters. Turns out they’ve been roasting up a storm since our First Look way back in 2012. 


Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters is tucked into the industrial area of Rock Bay, and will be celebrating their third anniversary this coming January. Owner and roaster Drew Johnson and his wife Leesha Sabine chose their warehouse roastery with a few things in mind: the space itself — with tons of natural light and huge garage doors — works well for sampling, roasting, and storing coffee. The space also features a walk-up coffee bar catering to a surprisingly large populous of city offices located in the neighborhood and now, as word of B&A has spread, to a steady crowd from around the city.

“We definitely have more walk-in traffic” says Johnson. “People are driving from across town to buy their beans from us.”


B&A serves fresh pastries every morning courtesy of Fol Epi and Relish “until they run out,” says Johnson.


My first visit to B&A marked my introduction to the unique qualities of light roasted coffee. “It’s a bit of an oddball thing [roasting light]” says Johnson, “[and] the taste reveals that.” “We offer tasting samples so you can see which flavour really speaks to you.”

Drew Johnson of BxA
Amara making espresso

Johnson offered me a pour-over of the Guatemalan Finca Le Soledad served in a cute little decanter. As I sipped my coffee I became acutely aware that this was unlike any coffee I’d had before. I have been wooed by the darkest, strongest, kick-me-awake kinds of coffee over the years and drawn to tasting notes of “chocolate, caramel, and smoky,” At B&A, however, you’ll come across a much different flavour profile — Soledad, for instance, exhibits notes of “green grapes, sugar cookie and peach.”

coffee cupping (crop this too!)
Bows & Arrows

I spent a good few minutes reading every bag of coffee, trying to decide my favorite profile. I was particularly drawn to the Sulawesi beans from the mountainous region of Toraja with notes of “cardamom, baklava, umeboshi and allspice.” This is the oddball thing Johnson was talking about; a light roasted coffee bean from Indonesia is going to present qualities very different than beans from say, Guatemala. “The coffee speaks for itself” Johnson suggests. “Light roasted [coffee’s] show more of their character as they cool to reveal more of the sweetness.” Each coffee region presents something unique, Johnson informs me. The qualities of beans from different regions are affected by the geographic conditions in which they are grown, and the lighter the roast, the easier it is to detect (and taste) origin distinction. I’m fascinated and lulled into the melody of Johnson’s coffee descriptors. “Marzipan and honeydew…” I hear him saying. “Creamsicle, rosewater…” By now, my coffee has completely cooled off. It’s actually cold but I continue pouring it into my cup. I’m not even sure where the milk is. The taste is good; more grape than cookie at this point. I forget the milk.


Bows & Arrows maintains a philosophy of trust and respect through every step in their business. Single origin/craft coffee roasters’ (sourcing smaller amounts) like B&A are able to work closely with the growers and wholesalers to ensure quality and transparency resulting, Johnson suggests, in business relationship with growers and producers that are honest, loyal, and understanding. Sometimes, for instance, the farms might experience a bad year, resulting in lower yields, Johnson explains. Despite this, Johnson is adamant that B&A still buys “ buy what we can from them.” “It’s tricky and complex [business] at the best of times,” he adds, “but we’ve found our legs.”


What’s coming up at Bows & Arrows?

It’s the end of the Central American season, so next up they’ll be roasting beans from South America and Africa (Rwanda and Burundi).


Where to find Bows & Arrows coffee in Victoria:


Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters

Hours: 7:30am – 3:00pm Monday – Friday

483 Garbally Road

(250) 590-7792






Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

Comments are closed.