Photos by Kyle West

By: Andrew Mrozowski

Tucked away on Barton Street East are a ton of local Hamilton shops with a lot to offer. On Barton Street East and Emerald Street North, a coffee shop is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary. Aptly named Emerald Coffee Co, the space creates a larger than life quality that has been ten years in the making.

Owner Phil Green grew up in Montreal. For the past ten years, Green worked in the automotive industry and lived in the United States, but he yearned for change. Leaving his job with thoughts of opening a coffee shop at the back of his head, Green made the choice to move back to Canada and live in Hamilton.

“I was walking my dog and saw that this place had a lot of potential. The neighbourhood was filled with young families, but they had to walk 15 minutes to get a coffee…A coffees hop is the hub of a neighbourhood and I wanted to create that hub here,” said Green.

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In the summer of 2017, Green embarked out into Hamilton to try and find a place. Setting up home base on Barton Street East, the owner knew that he was taking a chance with this spot.

“I took a risk and opened in a location where most people wouldn’t have but once the idea was in my head, I wanted Barton Street. We wouldn’t have been the same if we opened somewhere else,” said Green.

The doors to Emerald Coffee Co. were officially set to open in February 2018 but had to be delayed as the building was not up to code. Green eventually opened a month later on March 31, 2018 and received an unanticipated warm welcome.

“It’s been great! The neighbourhood has been amazing, I’ve met amazing people, and the coffee scene in Hamilton is friendly. It doesn’t feel like competition here, it feels like we are all friends. There is a real sense of community,” said Green.

Emerald Coffee Co. is a unique coffee shop as everything they use is natural. Green makes his own vanilla syrup using vanilla beans, a rose syrup from dried rose petals, and goes to the United States to get hazelnut milk.

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With a wide range of espresso-based beverages such as lattes, and americanos, Green also has kombucha and cold-brew on tap all year around. Emerald Coffee Co. also gets in a different roasts of coffee every two weeks to keep things fresh. A fan-favourite of Emerald is their hazelnut latte made with real hazelnut milk instead of using traditional hazelnut syrup.

“We try to make everything as genuine as possible,” said Green.

About once a month, Green also develops a special seasonal drink. Bringing back a fan-favourite, the rose latte will be featured for the shop’s one-year anniversary along with one-dollar coffee throughout the last weekend of March.

Aside from coffee drinks, the shop also has sandwiches and salads for customers to enjoy as well as sweets from local Hamilton bakeries such as Donut Monster.

Currently, Green is trying to develop a way to bring a nightlife crowd to Barton Street East.

“It’s a really gay-friendly neighbourhood with a lot of the owners being queer, and we are welcoming to everyone. Hopefully in the near future, I’ll have some coffee cocktails to serve in the evening because we really need a nighttime crowd in the neighbourhood,” explained Green.

Isolated from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core, Emerald Coffee Co. is a great place to study or enjoy a great beverage with friends in a warm and inviting atmosphere amongst a community that is working together to show more of what Barton Street East has to offer.


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By: Sonia Leung

From dark to light, we've got you covered with a run-down of popular choices available at (almost) any cafe.


This is what you would receive if you ordered a coffee, or rather, caffe, in Italy. On the strong end of the coffee spectrum, espresso is traditionally served with a glass of water on the side to offset the diuretic (pee-producing) effects of caffeine. A few ounces of hot water is run through fresh coffee grounds to extract the caffeine and flavour of the beans. A single shot of this rivals the wings that Red Bull promises. A double shot of this and you’ll taste colours.

There are two lengths at which espresso is extracted: ristretto and lungo (short and long, respectively). With a ristretto or short shot, less water is run through the grinds, producing a warmer and tastier coffee. A lungo or long shot has more water run through the beans. In a lungo shot, more tannins are extracted from the coffee, resulting in a more bitter drink.

Caffe Macchiato

Macchiato translates as “marked”.

A caffe macchiato translates to “espresso marked with milk.” If you ordered one of these, your barista would serve you an espresso with a dollop of foam on top. A caffe macchiato is different than a latte macchiato, which is what you’d get if you ordered a macchiato at Starbucks.


Just below the caffe macchiato on the spectrum of coffee is the cortado. Translating as “cut,” a cortado is an espresso cut with milk. Unlike the macchiato, which is comprised of espresso and foam, a cortado also has a bit of steamed milk to take the edge off.

Flat White

If you’ve stayed in the loop with Starbucks’ latest promotions, you’ve probably come across the flat white. Like a cortado, a flat white has espresso, milk and foam. The flat white, however, is milkier with a 2:1 of milk to coffee while a cortado’s got a ratio of 1:1.


A real barista would first prepare the steamed milk and foam when making a cappuccino. This ensures that there is time for the foam to settle while the espresso is brewed.

To make thick foam with minimally sized air bubbles, they would keep the tip of the steam wand just below the surface of the milk.

Starting with espresso in the mug, a cappuccino would then be filled three quarters of the way up with foam, then steamed milk. Foam, of lesser density than milk, floats on top of the milk and sits above the edge of the mug.

Brief barista musing: iced cappuccinos aren’t actually cappuccinos — there’s no foam and usually are saturated in sugar and caramel and vanilla flavouring.


Probably the most ordered drink at cafes in North America, the latte is the complement of the cappuccino. While cappuccinos have a dairy ratio of three portions of foam to one portion of steamed milk, a latte is ratio of foam to milk is 1:3.

Latte Macchiato

As explained above, macchiato means marked in Italian. Opposite of the caffe macchiato, a latte macchiato is milk marked with coffee. A bit of espresso is added to steamed milk for a hint of coffee flavour. If you were to order a macchiato without differentiating between latte or caffe, the latte macchiato is what you would be served.

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By: Sonia Leung

If you cut me open, I would probably bleed coffee. If you find me on Instagram, you would probably find dozens of pictures of Americanos fondly filtered with slumber or gingham. My name is Sonia and I am a coffee addict. I wasn’t always this way though.

Summer after second year, I went job searching and landed a job as a barista at a cafe near McMaster. It was just a job — I needed to pay rent and my barista job afforded me that. Little did I know, I would eventually tumble down the rabbit hole of coffee and all things related.

At this point in my life, coffee was just a tool, a pick-me-up for the groggier of mornings and the occasional all-nighter for that extra resilient project that didn’t like when you tackled it. On such occasions, my virgin tongue would shudder in anticipation of the bitterness that the “double-double” imposed.

In the following months, however, I had the misfortune of developing lactose intolerance and my digestive system no longer responded amicably to the dairy component of my “double-double.” Soy and other dairy alternatives aren’t comparable as creamers and were not worth the 50 cent add-on.

Notably, in the same timeframe, I also decided to reduce my sugar intake as per my family history of diabetes. And so it went, I now drank my coffee black. This one change, though unassuming, would lead me to new discoveries.

1. To my surprise, coffee breath was no longer an issue. The culprit to the unanimously dreaded case of acute coffee-induced halitosis is dairy and sugar. Black coffee does not mark its territory! 

2. Black coffee has pleasant flavours even without creamer or sweetener stirred in.

3. Caffeine is a laxative. 

These findings were serendipitous; no longer must I channel my exhales carefully so as not to subject my peers to coffee breath. I also found that I enjoyed coffee much more without the embellishment the “double-double” calls for.

Tasting the flavour notes of coffee requires a few steps. First, inhale. Gently waft in the smell of your cup of java. Let the aroma saturate your nasal cavity, hold your breath for a brief moment, and exhale. Your olfactory senses contribute to your perception of taste, so this step primes you for optimal enjoyment of coffee. Then, take another breath, drink some coffee, and swish it around your mouth and let it evenly coat your tongue for a few seconds. After you swallow it, exhale through your nose. Discernment of flavour notes comes with practice, but the first two domains of flavour you will experience are fruity (from varying levels of acidity) and nutty (varies between crops of coffee and levels of roastedness). Graduation from this dichotomy of flavour entails experiencing other tones. Three cheers to you if you taste that your coffee is earthy, herby, spicy or flowery.

Due to my penchant for flavour, I made the switch from drip coffee to Americano (FYI, Americano is a mix of espresso and hot water). The subtleties of flavour aren’t so subtle in such a beverage.

Drop the cream and sugar in your coffee if you’re feeling a little adventurous today. And in case you’re wondering, the best coffee I’ve had in Hamilton is the Americano from Pinecone Coffee Co. on John Street South.

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