Photo C/O Repair Café Toronto

By: Anastasia Richards

Our lifestyles tend to be disposable. Many of us are prone to throwing things away and replacing them without thinking twice about it. We reach for simplicity and convenience, regardless of the consequences.

The Repair Café, a grassroots organization based in Toronto, will be hosting their first event in Hamilton at the Worker’s Arts and Heritage Centre as part of the ongoing Division of Labour exhibit. Set to take place on March 30 from 1 to 4 p.m., the workshop will gather community members to learn how to fix things together and address sustainability.

The Repair Café launched in Amsterdam in May 2009. The philosophies of the event are all linked to promoting sustainability, helping out your neighbours and getting to know others in the community. In 2013, there was a small group of citizens in Toronto that heard of the event in Amsterdam and wanted to bring it to the greater Toronto area.

“Whether it be… electronics, sewing and mending, small motor repair, carpentry. Individuals that have the skill set come to the café, usually held in public spaces such as libraries or community centres and they teach people how to repair on their own,” explained Suzanne Carte, curator of the Division of Labour Exhibit at the Worker’s Arts and Heritage Centre.

Not only does the Repair Café provide you with the opportunity to learn to be handy, it provides an opportunity to meet people in your community. While you wait on your repair or even if you just want to stop by and see what it’s all about, you can get to know your fellow neighbours.

“With that, there may be some intergenerational conversation…talking about an object will lead to one’s life, uses for said object, storytelling and all of that. It's about building community and skill sharing too,” said Carte.

We live in an age where disposal and replacement are all too easy. Many of us are far too keen on replacing things once they’re slightly damaged. The Repair Café workshops aim to challenge this notion by facilitating an opportunity for people to learn how to be handy, as part of a community and on their own.

The workshops also aim to challenge gender roles that are present within the context of the work associated with repairs. The Repair Café creates an environment where preconceived notions about gender, such as who can sew and knit or do small-motor repairs, can be addressed and broken down.

The Repair Café wishes to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere so that even those who do not want to come and get something fixed can still feel compelled to attend and be a part of the community. As an example, Carte will be bringing her iron.

“I could probably go and find out how to do it via a digital platform, but I really want to be able to sit down with a person who can take me through the steps, answer any questions that I have in how to better care and serve this object that then services me,” said Carte.

Attending the Repair Café will provide her with an opportunity to collaborate with others in her community, share stories with them, exchange knowledge and extend the lifetime of her appliance.

The Repair Café hopes to change people’s mindset. Every contribution helps to improve our sustainability practices and it can all begin by learning how to fix the little things.

 

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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 @phincoffeebar

By: Natalie Clark

Calling all coffee addicts, there’s a new must try spot in town! Phin Coffee Bar is located at 804 King Street West. The Westdale neighbourhood spot is only a short walk from campus. The owner, Andrew Meas, launched the bar’s soft opening on Feb. 16 and has been committed to serving the Westdale community their best cup of coffee since.

This may be Meas’ first coffee shop, but he has lots of experience in the coffee industry and a lot of love for what he does.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto, Meas wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. His grandmother, who owned a café in New Zealand, invited him to make the trip to work for her and learn how to bake and make coffee.

Although Meas wasn’t a fan of the baking aspect of the café, he became intrigued by the coffee. Her returned back from New Zealand and starting working at Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters in Kitchener.  

Soon after becoming a pro at brewing coffee, Meas made the decision to start planning his own coffee shop in June 2018. It was a decision of impulse and instinct, and he admits to a little bit of peer pressure.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt9-J-HgKJh/

This pressure came in the form of the encouragement he had from his friends to take the next big step in career and open up Phin.  

Meas quickly realized that opening up a coffee shop meant more than just knowing how to brew a good cup of coffee. While opening up Phin, Meas ran into some challenges, mostly administrative things he didn’t think of, like cups and insurance.

When choosing a location, Meas knew that the Westdale neighborhood would be the perfect place. The community’s charms and close proximity to McMaster were advantageous to the new business.

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Meas is aiming Phin Coffee Bar at students, professors and young adults, and being in the Westdale neighborhood accomplishes that for him.  

When asked what he believes Phin will add to the Westdale community, Meas mentioned that he hopes it will create a lot of foot traffic, encourage the exploration of coffee and brew a reputable cup of coffee.

Meas sees coffee as a gateway into people’s lives, it’s a part of their routine and lifestyle, and Phin Coffee Bar aims to be that gateway by creating a cozy and approachable vibe in the Westdale community.

 

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