Meet the Maker | Smoking Gun Coffee

Meet the maker of Smoking Gun Coffee, Brandon Litun!  

Starting as a side-hustle in the garage of Brandon Litun’s home in Mission, BC, expanding to a roaster/pop-up cafe in Abbotsford throughout COVID, moving to a residency at HighStreet Mall before fully establishing their HOME in District 1881 in Downtown Chilliwack, Smoking Gun Coffee has ran around the Valley finding the perfect fit for their passion, and have never looked back. Smoking Gun Coffee Roasters now operates a full-service cafe and production roastery space to bring coffee for anyone and everyone!

Prior to coffee, Brandon carried a career in Social Work where he acknowledged a difficulty coping with this important work. Roasting coffee became a lifeline - providing an opportunity to connect with Self through the dynamic sensory experience, while also providing an opportunity to connect with others through the power of coffee. Coffee became a major part of Brandon's healing journey, and because of this it was easy to channel creative energy into something so life-giving, connective, and community building. More coffee created more connection; more connection resulted in more healing; and this snow ball continues to roll down the hill!

Brandon Litun Smoking Gun Founder

Originally started as a side-hustle around 2015, consuming evenings and weekends until Brandon decided to give it the shot it deserved in 2019 when Smoking Gun was incorporated and the first official roasting space opened (3 months later, the world came to a standstill due to the pandemic... more on that later!). At that time, Smoking Gun had become too dynamic to be considered a hobby, and Brandon had to decide whether to hang it up, or take the leap. This is a common thread of the Smoking Gun story - hustle, pivot, risk, expand: COVID shuts down wholesale, and SG starts driving coffee to homes; eventually opens a "curb-side cafe," and begins its cafe expression. This results in the opportunity to move the cafe to Highstreet and trial their first independent cafe expression. From there, they are faced with a decision to sign on long-term, hang it up, or explore other locations. District 1881 became a new opportunity (which initially was thought to be WAY out of league). Big risk, but they took it. They then experienced expansion of the wholesale community and needed more space and larger equipment - big risk, but they took on a second space for production. Now again, are experiencing needs/opportunities for expansion - big risk... we'll see! Though many assume businesses have it all sorted out, they’re really just riding the waves and trying to savour every moment!

A unique aspect of SG that isn't lost on Brandon is the opportunity to engage in the entire supply chain of the product in a very personal way - allowing Smoking Gun to have engagement, connection, and relationships all the way from farm to cup. Brandon is STOKED to be heading to Colombia in Feb 2024 to meet with producers, support their cultivation and production, and do some roasting alongside local Colombian coffee roasters. It's the cycle of these relationships that gives this industry momentum.

“It's a gift to participate in such a cyclical industry of connection - fostering relationships with our producers at farms around the world; connecting with producers globally through incredible exporters; preparing products for our growing community of coffee drinkers; providing feedback to producers and celebrating their expertise in cultivation; highlighting producers to the coffee drinking community locally; working together to bring DELIGHTFUL coffee to as many cups as possible... it's a gift!”

When asking Smoking Gun about what motivates/drives the business, Brandon said: “See above! I can't say enough about the connective power of coffee culture - having the opportunity to connect with Self and with others is the fuel! Our mission is to create an incredibly inclusive, low barrier environment for anyone to participate in the dynamic and connective world of coffee culture - coffee for all!” Much like SG in general, the evolution of the business has created the opportunity to connect with others along the way. Initially that meant more production staff and roasters, but has expanded to cafe operations and support staff. The team is a true testament of the success of Smoking Gun - a collection of individuals united around the common goal of creating excellent coffee experiences where people feel seen, heard, and are allowed to take up space. The team has become the face of business, capturing moments of connection with anyone who engages with them, whether in the cafe or brewing at home!

The experience of this business has been defined by "hustle" and "pivot!" Starting up during a global pandemic definitely presented many challenges - made exponentially more challenging during the formative years. However these may also have been positively defining for Smoking Gun. They find themselves in what some refer to as "the messy middle" - getting going is phase 1... now trying to be stewards of the growth phases, setting strong business foundations of service excellence, product development, and community growth, while navigating the dynamics of unprecedented cost increases; complicated logistics; environmental influences on a delicate agricultural product; global political challenges/unrest in many areas of the world who cultivate the majority of the global coffee supply; among other things... its a grind (pun intended!).

“We are STOKED to be exploring ways to get more delightful coffee into communities, both in terms of production and MAYBE other cafe expressions. Stay tuned!”

Founder & operators cannot say enough about the people: “The team who slays; our growing community of stockists; and every incredible human who allows us to be a part of their coffee drinking rituals! Though it might sound hippy-dippy - all the connections over sips are like a network of healing: individuals connecting with Self, and people connecting with each other over this POWERFUL yet simple beverage. Without the connections, this is only ground up seeds steeped in hot water. It's the people that give us power, and people healing through connection is what builds community and culture! More of that please!”

The Local Space has long-held a love for this business, as our neighbours in District 1881, and good friends of OUR founder, Megan Nakazawa, we will forever cherish this incredible business' values & ethics (and their smokin' good coffee). We bring their roasts into our stores, with Show Pony Espresso Blend as a crowd (and Local Box) favourite. Be sure to check back to our Smoking Gun shop page to see what new brews we bring closer to you! Not seeing what you want from us? You can shop in-store or online directly from the Smoking Gun Website anytime as well! (They ship free Canada-wide on orders over $75).  

So is there anything to look forward to from Smoking Gun this year? In their words; “We have some DOPE coffee lined up this year - some beloved regulars, as well as some new partners from coffee growing regions we haven't had the opportunity to showcase yet. Get ready for a beautiful offering from Rwanda in the spring! Brandon is also heading to Colombia in early Feb to hang out with a new farm partner, get his hands dirty, and bring home some FRESH Colombia which we will feature in the coming months. Keep your eyes on the gram for new releases, launches, and good times!” One of their NEWEST products is the Thoroughbred INSTANT specialty coffee! Be sure to follow them on their Instagram to keep up to date on what else is new and upcoming.

In collaboration with Smoking Gun, as their way to invite you for a brew & a thank you, be sure to look toward The Local Space's Instagram for a giveaway from Brandon himself! 

*copywrite done in collaboration with Brandon Litun, Spencer Croteau, & The Local Space Team. 


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