One of my daily practices is finding pleasure in the simplest things. The first cup of coffee in the morning, for example, is one of them. When I can, I try to elevate the basics, the essentials on my every day life, especially if it’s something that will nourish my body. I focus on buying produce and products that are fresh, organic and that are as close to nature as possible… All this to say that I put extra attention to where I source my coffee beans. Having lived in the south of Mexico, where it’s famous for the quality of the coffee, I surely pay attention to the taste and quality of what I choose to brew at home.
As funny as this will sound, this is how I met Ally :) model and Canyon Coffee co-founder of Los Angeles-based organic coffee company. Before the coffee, a friend from LA had talked to me about her in the bestest of way. Little did I know that the coffee beans CAP Beauty was selling were the result of Ally and her partner's work until a few weeks later. Even though we haven't met personally, I already love her vibe approach to wellness and sense of being present. Ally and Casey (her partner and co-founder) started Canyon Coffee as the result of something that they both cherished, and that's the joy that coffee brings to their mornings. Guys, the rest really is history.
In this Q&A, Ally talks about the process of starting a new business, her favorite self-care practices, what keeps her motivated, and even a couple recommendations for places to eat in LA!
Name: Ally Walsh
Occupation: Model and Co-Founder of Canyon Coffee
Location: Echo Park, CA
Mondays thru Fridays I wake up at: Usually 7:30 am, sometimes earlier, if work calls for it.
How did you first get interested in the coffee business?
Casey and I have always loved coffee. Since we met, we‘ve enjoyed traveling together for coffee, making each other a cup in the morning, visiting roasters, and sending new beans home to each other when we were on the road for work.
It wasn’t until Casey worked in the industry as a barista and met our roaster, James, that we asked ourselves, “Why don’t we start roasting beans ourselves?”
I model as well and was excited to start building something that I felt passionate about. We had always wanted to create something together, and at some point we just realized coffee was it. It’s a passion we share together :)
What makes Canyon Coffee special?
Canyon Coffee came from a desire to share our love and passion for coffee with people, and to bring warmth and happiness to people’s mornings.
We put so much love and time into creating a brand that, to us, represents community and ritual. As for our coffees, we basically just find and select organic coffees we would want to enjoy every morning! Our business includes selling coffee direct via our online shop, wholesale to select boutique shops and markets, as well as cafes and restaurants who serve it on-bar.
Can you talk to us a little bit about the process of creating a great product like yours, from choosing the right beans, finding the right people to work with, to distribution
Regarding our buying practices, we only work with importing companies that have transparent, beneficial relationships directly with farmers. Small-scale farmers and their families depend completely on the check they get after their one, sometimes two harvests of the year. We buy the green coffee based on the quality of the coffee, which means we’re almost always paying higher than fair trade cost (which is just 10¢ above the market value).
Also, this year we actually started a practice of traveling to origin countries to meet farmers and producers firsthand. As I’m writing this, Casey is in Guatemala trying coffees, visiting farms and forming connections we hope to grow every year!
Sharing and growing a business with someone you’re in a relationship together must be an amazing adventure, but also one that brings its own challenges? If so, we would love to hear how you deal with these, to keep the spark alive! : )
It is really nice to be able to work and create together and have the same passions! We could talk about coffee from morning to night but it is definitely important to turn that off, sometimes. We still get excited talking about work, though, and all the places we want to travel to, and the projects we want to start and grow! But we always make time to go out on dates! And visit the Korean Spa together :)
What makes the perfect cup of coffee?
I think having a burr grinder makes all the difference. We sell one called the Encore by Baratza. It’s an investment, but one we can’t stress enough!
The coffee shops I’m loving right now are…
Honey Hi in Echo park—they serve Canyon :) & Maru in Los Feliz!
Pollen just opened in Echo Park right down the street from us, it’s a cute day time cafe with really delicious blueberry muffins!
Ally, what makes you happy?
Reading in the sun!
What makes you feel inspired and motivated?
Traveling, meditating and beautiful publications featuring art, creatives and travel. Going on hikes in nature.
What are your non-negotiable wellness practices you incorporate into your daily life?
Meditating in the morning, and using warm oils (like jojoba) on my skin. It can get very dry here in LA, and the oils help keep my skin and hair healthy.
When it comes to nourishing the body, can you please walk us through a day in your life:
Apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning, after meditation! Followed by a cup of organic black coffee and toast in the morning. And then light meals throughout the day. I could live on sweet potatoes and curry. Lots of greens in a salad. Oils after a hot shower. Usually a salmon and roasted veggies for dinner! Sometimes an adaptogenic tea after dinner, and magnesium before I go to bed.
What foods do you avoid, if any…
Dairy, meat and gluten.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at:
Mh Zh! A new middle eastern restaurant that opened in Silverlake. Everything they had on the menu (and we tried it all), from the branzino, sweet potatoes, and hummus to the bread was all so delicious.
An indulgence I would never forgo is…
A nice glass of wine.
What are your favorite supplements to take at day, and night
Magnesium and Gaba at night. Sometimes B12 and Gotu Kola during the day.
How do you stay healthy and fit?
I try to get to a Yoga class at least 3 times a week. I live close to some beautiful hikes and love doing that around sunset.
The people I rely on for personal well-being are…
Maria Villella for Acupuncture at Elysian Life Care. Julie Bernier & Kari Jansen for Ayurvedic treatments and Anna Zahn for a lymphatic massage at Ricari Studios!
On a day to day basis, how do you decompress at the end of the day?
Sometimes infrared sauna, sometimes a glass of wine ;)
What activities do you cherish the most during the weekends?
Farmers markets, catching up with friends, sleeping in and making coffee, going on a hike and reading the New York Times outside in the sun :)
Describe your personal style in three words:
Quality, laid back and comfortable.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to is…
Japan! I love everything about it. The people (so nice), the food, the attention to detail, appreciation of subtlety...
In LA, my current restaurants recommendations are:
I’ve been enjoying all the food on the East Side, since we recently moved there! Honey Hi, Mh Zh, Botanica, and Night + Market Song are our favorites! We love Bar Bandini, an all natural wine bar, for a glass of wine. And we love stocking up at the Cookbook markets.
The best book I read in the past year was…
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is…
James Turell. I’ll have to build a room for him to work with someday in my home :)
Ally, what advice would you give to someone feeling stuck trying to let go of fear while trying to start a business?
At some point (and many points, actually), you have to just try. You’ll never be able to know exactly what’s going to happen, and that’s just a part of running a business. But you can’t learn or grow if you don’t try! I think the best thing you can do is ensure what you’re doing is something you really are passionate and care about. Because no one can deny what you’re doing if it’s authentic.