Pilot Coffee Roasters

Roastery, Lab, Tasting Bar, and Distribution Centre for Direct Trade Coffee

In a forgotten industrial strip backing onto the Greenwood Rail Yard in Toronto’s east end, Williamson Chong has transformed an old building supplies warehouse into a state-of-the-art coffee facility. Named the 2014 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine, This Pilot ‘hub’ is the first roasting facility in Toronto that is open and accessible to the public.

Utilizing the open plan of the existing concrete block warehouse with exposed structure and service lines, the production cycle has been made transparent. There is a visual slice through the whole operation where customers, baristas, and wholesale clients can learn the narrative of the beans from their arrival from Direct Trade suppliers to their roasting and delivery using Pilot’s full-time bicycle courier.

The rough shell is contrasted by finely detailed small spaces delineated by precise wood-clad shells and elements. Upon entry, the curved tasting bar is designed to maximize education and interaction. It is composed of a  wrap-around concrete counter – like an unfolded paper clip – with a white oak base that conceals a dishwasher, under counter refrigerator, boiler, cold-brew coffee storage, a cash drawer, and most important, the boiler of the Modbar espresso machine. Because the boiler sits beneath the counter, leaving just the heads embedded in the countertop, the baristas can engage with the customers without a physical barrier.

Used for tasting and scenting various blends with scientific precision, the coffee lab and cupping room is slightly shielded from the rest of the operation. Clad in white oak paneling that is also used for the millwork shelves, drawers and cabinetry inside, it holds a bank of various coffee machines, grinders, and testing equipment and is used for training, experimentation and workshops. The custom cupping table is centred on a double paned window overlooking the production area while a glass pocket door for soundproofing and scent containment can either close off the space or open it to the adjacent tasting bar.

The third element is an office tucked at the back with sightlines through a large window to the activity on the floor. Equipped with a 24-kilo Diedrich roaster, the central floor space houses the main production area, storage racks, and packaging tables. This new-concept work environment invites the public in for a first-hand artisanal coffee experience while also educating about the process and precision required to bring great coffee to your table.

In a forgotten industrial strip backing onto the Greenwood Rail Yard in Toronto’s east end, we transformed an old building supplies warehouse into a state-of-the-art coffee facility. Named the 2014 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine, This Pilot ‘hub’ is the first roasting facility in Toronto that is open and accessible to the public.

A project completed by Williamson Chong