History of Espressotec
It was a rusty, disassembled, antique Probat roaster that began Espressotec owner, Reg James’ lifelong journey with espresso and espresso machines.
James’ passion for coffee led him all the way to Seattle in the 1980s, home of the original Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee. The competition between the two companies stirred up great interest in the art of coffee drinking within the U.S. and eventually in Canada. Vancouver was one of the first cities where Starbucks tested the waters outside of the U.S. The original Canadian location still stands tucked inside of Waterfront Skytrain Station in downtown Vancouver.
James’ trek down south acquainted him with Jim Stewart, owner and founder of Seattle’s Best Coffee, formerly Stewart Brothers Coffee (before they were threatened with a lawsuit by a different Stewart’s Coffee in Chicago). Stewart sold James his first coffee roaster from the company’s original roasting station on Vashon Island in Washington. It was a 1929 Probate roaster that was “in a hundred pieces,” James fondly recalls. The machine was rusted to the point that he could hardly tell how old it was. After bringing the roaster back to Vancouver, James’ patience and skill paid off when he managed to bring the roaster to life again and sell it to a prime spot inside what used to be a popular artisan’s market in a suburb of Vancouver.
From then on, James was known as the “Espresso guy,” and the nickname only furthered his desire to work with coffee. James soon opened up the Fine Grind Coffee Roastery where he roasted, brewed, and sold the finest coffee. The Fine Grind expanded to three different locations in Canada including one in the luxurious resort town of Banff, Alberta and two in Vancouver. The Fine Grind was highly successful and soon declared one of Vancouver’s Best Espresso Spots. In 1997, it was recommended by the Vancouver Best Places guidebook as one of the Best Places in Vancouver. As the popularity of speciality coffee rose, James noticed many of his customers beginning to inquire about home espresso machines, and that was when he decided this would be an excellent opportunity to expand into the espresso equipment market.
Although he enjoyed both the technical and retail sides of the Fine Grind, James leaned more towards the technical side of espresso and in ’97, he officially separated the Fine Grind, selling the coffee retail portion and taking off with the coffee equipment. James’ decision to expand the commercial half of Fine Grind paid off well as the newly born Espressotec quickly outgrew its original location inside an unused airplane hangar and moved to its current location on Vulcan Way in Richmond, B.C. The current 4,000 sq ft location includes a showroom, training area, service area, and warehouse. In 2002, James’ foresight led to Espressotec joining the online shopping realm and now sells to customers across Canada, the U.S., and countries all over the world. Espressotec has also proudly been named Consumer’s Choice for over a decade.