Before it became known as Peterborough, the area was called Nogojiwanong, Ojibwa for “place at the end of rapids.”
After a whirlwind music career that saw him travel around the world performing in front of thousands of people with the band Hawk Nelson, Daniel Biro established Rapids End Coffee Roastery to settle down at the end of his own rapids.
“It felt so right coming back to Peterborough,” he said with a peaceful grin inside his Rye St. space in the city’s west end.
Daniel was born and raised in Barrie, Ontario, but came to Peterborough in 2002 after high school to join Hawk Nelson. Once they hit it big, the band ended up traveling around the globe, which took Daniel to so many cities and inside so many different cultures.
“I wonder how much that played into my psyche of craving just being in one place and getting to know people, not just on a surface level,” Daniel said. “There are some musicians where the idea of being grounded is terrifying but for me, it was actually very freeing.”
Rapids End Roastery opened briefly in the Spring of 2020, but due to COVID-19, their storefront launch momentum was delayed until they could open again in Summer 2020. As of August 2020, customers can come by to pick up coffee or swing by and sit down for a drink.
“It was almost a soft-launch because of COVID-19. It was a blessing that I could come to work through this though because I work alone,” Daniel explains.
It doesn’t take long after being inside Rapids End Roastery that Daniel’s passion for Peterborough and the city’s history is tangible. A massive red canoe hanging from the wall, old photos of canoers on Peterborough lakes in days past, old maps of Peterborough & the Kawarthas. Rapids End is as much a modern-day roastery as it is a step back into our region’s rich history.
“We’ve always had a soft spot for history and Peterborough is considered the canoe capital of the world because it used to be home to several canoe factories,” Daniel said. “Our emblem is a WWII era Peterborough Canoe Co. red canoe hanging in the roastery. It’s a reminder to take time away from the chaos in life, and get back to peace.”
Our dream is that each person can find a moment to rest with a great cup of coffee and experience some calm in the midst of their own rapids.Daniel Biro
Daniel said touring around the world gave him an incredible window into coffee culture in many different countries. All of those experiences and tastes influenced Rapids End.
“A classic one is Seattle; we were doing a record there. I remember we were outside of a Starbucks and there were some street performers, we just asked if they wanted to sing on our record…it was a really cool thing. But that shows how coffee connects people. So Seattle was super influential on me; learning about espresso and how that culture came from Italy to North America through Seattle,” Biro explained. “Another influential culture was Australia. In Australia, they have a real emphasis on quality.”
Daniel’s wife is from Peterborough, and a graphic designer (she actually did all the branding and design work for Rapids End).
“What brought me here was music but what kept me here is family and what I’m looking forward to is coffee.”
It hasn’t taken his roastery to make waves in the community either. Silver Bean Cafe, KitCoffee, The Main Ingredient and a few other local retailers have started carrying a variety of Biro’s beans.
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“The response has been very good and positive. It’s a really good scene to be a part of,” he says.
Currently, Rapids End roasts six different kinds of coffees: El Salvador Finca Noruega, Ethiopia Kaffa Bonga, Colombia San Sebastian Organic, Northboy Espresso, Otonabean Espresso and Colombia Sugarcane E.A. Decaf.
“It all comes down to relationships. A lot of people drink coffee, which is a great thing for our business, but I love connecting with people. Especially during COVID-19 times, where we’ve had so much time apart from others, it’s nice to reconnect with people. And if I can help facilitate that with the coffee business, than I’m all about that,” Daniel adds.