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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Photo C/O @vinestmarket

When partners and food and beverage producers Ryan Chelak and Jules Lieff went looking for a production space, they came across a building at 98 Vine Street. While the space was larger than they required for their businesses, they decided to take it. Now they are sharing the extra space with Hamilton makers with their first Vine Street Makers’ Market set to take place on March 30.

The two-storey red-brick building was once the home of Hamilton Pure Dairy, which opened in 1907 to provide healthy, safe and pure milk to the community. It has been home to other businesses over the year and now houses Vibe Kombucha and FitOrganiX.

Chelak is the founder of Vibe Kombucha, a craft brewer of raw, organic kombucha tea. Lieff founded FitOrganiX, a daily meal delivery system that uses local, organic ingredients. They will be using the second floor of the building for production.

The main floor will be open to the community as studio and event space. While Chelak and Lieff are still determining exactly how they will use the space, they know they want it to cater to creatives in Hamilton.

“In talking to a number of artists in the community, in Hamilton, there seems to be a need, particularly where we are downtown, for creative space. All of the workshop, event spaces, they're all pricing a lot of these people out of the market,” Chelak explained.

The desire for space can be seen in how the market sold out of vendor space within a day and a half. By providing space at an accessible price point, Vine Street Market is allowing emerging makers the chance to bring their product to the public.

The markets are currently slated to be monthly, but Chelak said that they may change depending on the demand. Starting in May, they will also host a bimonthly thrifted, vintage market.

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However, the main floor will be more than just market space. At the back of the main floor, there will be collaborative work space for artists to work out of. This would also allow artists to have wall space in order to display their work for clients.

Vibe Kombucha and FitOrganiX will also be selling their products at 98 Vine Street. Chelak and Lieff hope to have a cafe counter where people can buy their products, along with food and beverages from other local producers.

Another important use for the space will be the workshops that makers can host. Having gotten into kombucha by giving workshops, Chelak appreciates the opportunity to share skills with others.

“You know sharing that knowledge is really what community is all about, whether it's making something to eat or drink or making… music or arts. People need outlets like that, maybe now more than ever when everything is fast-paced and we're so immersed in technology and our work… [T]hat time to create it is important,” Chelak said.

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The market will provide an opportunity for Hamiltonians to interact with and buy from local makers. While there is no restriction on where the makers hail from, the market will primarily host local creatives.

Chelak believes that the local creatives are leaders in Hamilton’s resurgence. However, more than helping to grow the city, Hamilton artists are also providing a welcoming and collaborative space for emerging artists to develop.

“Hamilton seems to be, from my perspective…, a city that is collaboration over competition… And I think when you have that mindset where you're looking to promote each other and/or share information or opportunities… then people are more apt to do the same back in return and the adage that when you first give and then you'll receive, it's really what it's all about,” Chelak said.

By creating an environment where artists can work together, Vine Street Market is joining the tradition of collaboration within Hamilton’s artistic community. Having this new space for makers to make and sell their art will allow more individuals with small businesses to flourish in this rapidly changing city. In turn, Vine Street Market will grow as well.

 

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Where used to be brown leather seating lining a pristine white wall is now nearly floor to ceiling wood shelving filled with Stoney Creek’s La Dee Da sauces, fair trade organic coconut cream, single origin chocolate and locally produced raw honey. 

Under new management by Bikeables, Dundurn Market’s few wooden crates of produce have expanded into a larger selection of locally grown produce, in addition to organic fruits and vegetables from outside of Canada’s borders. 

Rhubarb, lettuce heads and bags of mixed greens grown by farmers in Westdale, Strathcona, Dundas and Copetown are placed next to mason jars filled with fresh salads, kimchi, sauerkraut and strawberry ginger kombucha made in house. 

The recipes are created by Sara Wiseman, the head chef and market manager, in a small yet productive kitchen on the second floor. Her prepared lunches, dinners and treats for the market café are inspired by her experience as a baker and vegan chef for nearly 20 years. 

Wiseman joined Bikeables co-founders Justin and Roger Abbiss to fill the void left over by the original Dundurn Market that closed last December. Together they reshaped the space to fit the Bikeables’ business model as well as meet the needs of the Dundurn and Kirkendall neighbourhoods. 

Bikeables is no stranger to the neighbourhood. The bike-powered produce and goods delivery service launched two years ago out of a passion for connecting local farmers, bakers and product vendors to customers. The Hamilton-based business has its biggest cliental base right in Dundurn. 

Dundurn Market was the perfect physical space to embody the values and mission of Bikeable’s online store and direct to consumer model. However, the physical storefront doesn’t take away from their online presence, but rather operates as a second sales channel meant to foster interaction and trust with consumers. 

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“In Canada, people are still a little bit cold to the idea of buying groceries online compared to places [in Europe] … People like to come in and feel and touch the food they’re about to buy. We can instill some trust in their experience here and that way they may be more likely to buy online a later time,” explained Justin Abbiss. 

What makes Bikeables and the Dundurn market unique compared to other local grocers in Hamilton is their full cycle approach towards making every step in their model, from sourcing their goods to delivering it to their customers’ doors, as sustainable as possible. 

They are dedicated towards working with urban farmers in our own backyards as well as bigger farms in Hamilton, like Manorun Organic family farm, and local businesses like De La Terre Bakery, Foundry Ice Cream and Terra Teas. 

Produce that hasn’t sold and is nearing its shelf life will be tossed along fresh ingredients and made into prepared meals in sustainable packaging to minimize waste and promote healthy and environmentally friendly eating habits. 

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The cycle isn’t complete without their fleet of delivery bikes. Inspired by European businesses, Bikeables’ two-wheel rides are from a manufacturer from the Neatherlands. The cargo bikes, or bakfiets as they’re natively known, have the cargo placed in front of the rider as pushing the weight instead of pulling is a lot more efficient. 

Europe’s slow food movement and sustainability practices have inspired the kind of pride Bikeables and Dundurn Market wants to take in the way they service the Hamilton community. The growing business has recently added an electric car to service areas that are more difficult to reach by bike. 

“I think it’s just the nature of who we are. We’ve always been trying to do things in the most sustainable way that we can. It’s not always easy, driving the bike is more green but sometimes it’s not a lot of fun. I think we are really stubborn at the same time,” explained Abbiss. 

Busy young families who are looking for a convenient way to eat healthy tend to be their main clientele, but Abbiss encourages students to also pick up local eating habits. He has ideas for bike-powered mobile markets to engage the community. 

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“I understand that it can be out of reach for some people... but I think it has to come from within. You have to [develop] a desire to support local… you have to put importance on wanting to do that,” explained Abbiss. 

Bikeables and Dundurn Market are working towards increasing the affordability of their service and making it accessible to more people in the community. Running a local grocer in an ethical and sustainable way isn’t always easy, but it’s the right thing to do. 

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