Q&A with Casey Wojtalewicz
Co-Founder of Canyon Coffee
Where are you today?
Maru Coffee in Los Feliz
What do you do for a living?
I run Canyon Coffee with my partner Ally, and I do SEO freelance
Why are you doing it?
Canyon Coffee, for my love of coffee and how it brings people together, as an excuse to travel, meet interesting people, challenge myself, and share something in the world. SEO, to help people and small businesses I respect grow.
Most prized possession?
My Grandma Louise's Del Oro acoustic guitar. None of us even knew she played. It has her maiden initials on it, which means it's probably from the 30's or 40's. I've been using it on all the songs I now write.
Favorite piece of clothing you own?
A button-up dyed with Canyon Coffee by Olderborther, and I gotta say I'm loving my Double Eleven jeans!
Current regulars on the playlist?
Seabird by the Alessi Borthers, Goodbye Soleil by Phoenix, and lots of Bossa Nova lately. Desde Que O Samba E Samba by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, O Leãozinho by Caetono, Wave and anything by Antonio Carlos Joabim, Antiqua by Paul Desmond
Best gig you've been to?
Seeing Young the Giant when they sold out the Greek has to be up there. I'm no stranger to their shows, I opened for them on the road with two bands, but they were larger than life at the Greek. They had every single person in the amphitheater glued, and thrilled with every moment. And with three records worth of material, they were able to pull out everyone's favorite jams.
You invite any 3 people to lunch, living or past, who would join you?
Alexander von Humboldt, Frederick Douglass and H.P. Blavatsky. And then Kurt Vonnegut for dessert!
Best memory or memories?
The ones where I'm traveling in a new place, we're just about to arrive to the destination, the world is in twilight, the right song is playing, and everyone in the car around me has excitement in their eyes and smiles on their faces. I think of Yellowstone or grandma and grandpa's cabin in Northern Minnesota as a kid, Big Sur, Sea Ranch, Taos, and Maine with Ally
What are some of your environmentally friendly practices?
I don't use many products in general, just toothpaste, deodorant and soap, and when I do, they're safe enough that I could consume them. Nothing does down the drain that's harmful to the environment.
I try to waste as little as possible. I eat all the food I purchase and try to buy as much directly from local farmers. I walk and bike wherever possible.
What do you think about the state of the environment?
The state of the environment is the state of the world, there's no separation, the the state is not good, in terms of sustaining life as we know it. Our way of life, civilization, is very destructive. It does not recognize or account for the value nature provides. We're a throwaway culture and have applied that mentality not only to things, but to people, whole species, even our planet.
But Earth has an incredible proclivity for generating life. Despite the pollution, the mess, the violence we inflict, it finds a way. And we can be part of that solution. I'm inspired and given renewed optimism by the release of Project Drawdown by Paul Hawken, who I am lucky to call a friend, and the chain reaction and mobilization has ignited around the world.
I think of the topsoil underneath the stretch of virgin prairie near where I grew up in Western Minnesota. That soil, which has been built up over eons, is thick with millions, if not billions of seeds. The seeds wait underground, dormant, until the conditions become perfect for them to sprout and grow into plants. After fires rage and the land becomes a black, smoldering wasteland, the native grasses come shooting up. It's a beautiful sight to behold, and one that nature has been creating since long before humans were around.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I want to be immersed in a supportive, independent community of friends and family. Having coffee on the porch with my neighbors, with some little runts of my own running around. Living in close proximity to nature. I'd like Canyon Coffee to be an established company that adds warmth to people's days while providing abundance for everyone connected to it, at every level of the supply chain. And I want to be creating, writing, making songs and sharing them with the world at my pace.