It’s not every day that a seven-month-old Winnipeg business gets featured at a red carpet award show. So, it’s understandable that Robert Young assumed an email invitation to attend the MTV Movie & TV Awards was a scam.
"I was just about to reply that the Nigerian prince already has my money," says the local author and owner of Writers & Rockers Coffee Company. "But I didn’t, I just kind of left it."
Turns out, the offer was legitimate — and then some. Young’s coffee beans will be included in the gift bags and brewed for the celebrity lounge at both the MTV awards, set to take place in May, and the Grammy Awards, scheduled for later this month. The latter was a last-minute ask.
"Late Thursday, they called in a panic that their coffee supplier for the Grammys had backed out," Young says. "So, we’re going to be providing coffee for that, too."
In less than a week, he’s come up with a special blend for the annual music celebration: a mix of the company’s existing roasts inspired by Canadian bands like Trooper, Harlequin and The Pumps.
"Western Canadian rockers will be represented at the Grammys," Young says.
That is, if the show goes on. The awards were cancelled last year owing to the pandemic and there is growing speculation that the event will be postponed this year due to the rise of the Omicron variant. Young says he supports a possible date change and is just happy to have his product included in such a prominent event.
“I still don’t think it’s sunk in. It’s not something I would have ever dreamt of.” – Robert Young
"I still don’t think it’s sunk in," he says. "It’s not something I would have ever dreamt of."
Writers & Rockers started as a hobby while he was writing a new book and has turned into a full-time endeavour. The company sources beans from Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Kenya and Young has created nearly a dozen coffee blends named after well-known music, books and literary phenomenon.
Ironically, coffee — something that usually fuels his work — has put a dent in his writing practice.
"I haven’t had much chance to write," he says, adding that he’s currently working on a Winnipeg-based murder mystery novel. "Everything has been so busy."
While Young doesn’t think he’ll get many orders from customers in Beverly Hills following any award show appearances, he says having his beans at the Grammy and MTV events will add to the business’s credibility.
A limited run of the Writers & Rockers’ Grammy blend will be available for purchase locally through writersandrockerscoffee.com or at Radiance Gifts on Corydon Avenue, which Young runs with his wife. He’s also working on two special movie- and television-themed blends ahead of the MTV awards.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.