Hamiltonians love their java — and we’re not talking about Tim Hortons.
More than 600 people turned up Sunday afternoon at the Spice Factory on Hughson Street North for the city’s first Coffee Fair.
The free event included 14 local coffee shops or roasters — each offering samples of unique blends, home brewing techniques and demonstrations.
“It’s been an incredible response,” said co-organizer Wes Griffin, as the line to get inside continued to grow down the block.
Griffin, a barista from Finch Espresso Bar on Locke, wanted to showcase the alternative quality brews offered across the city. Over a cup of coffee with his friend Josh Southern, they percolated a plan to do just that.
“The idea is we want people to leave the event and go visit the coffee shops involved,” he said.
And it just might work.
As gal pals Kate Bradshaw and Catherine Parsons stood sipping coffee Sunday, they made a pact to visit each storefront of the participating vendors before the year is up.
“People are evolving their tastes from Tim Hortons,” said Bradshaw. “What I appreciate about this is that it’s so diverse.”
Many of the vendors involved said they were overwhelmed by the turnout.
“Oh my God, there are so many people,” said Jason Hofing of Relay, a fair trade organic coffee roaster.
Hofing said he knows that for many, coffee is a habit. Customers need it, and they want it quickly. For him, it’s a battle against big corporations.
“How do you get people out of the drive-thru?” he asked, adding many consumers don’t realize they can get a great quality cup just as fast in their shops as they can at fast-food drive-thru windows. “I really hope it (the event) strengthens the coffee scene here in Hamilton.”
Nicole Weisensee, co-owner of Pinecone Coffee Co. on John Street South demonstrated the “proper way” to make iced coffee using their Old School espresso blend. The secret?
“Room temperature water,” she said, and then stick it in the fridge overnight. “If you brew it hot and add ice cubes, it dilutes it.”
Weisensee said she believes people can shy away from home brewing because of the fear of doing it wrong.
“We want to show everyone it’s not overwhelming. Anyone can do it,” she said.
Ariel Leung, an avid coffee drinker, had no idea the city was home to so many shops. “There are some I’d never even heard of,” she said, eager to get out and explore them.