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National and International Coffee Day celebrates Canada's go-to drink

Inside Epoch Chemistry in Moncton’s downtown, coffee isn’t just celebrated on select days of the year, it’s an all day, every day type of thing.

Co-founder and director of coffee, Conor Conway admits he drinks a little too much coffee each day.

“That’s a really tough question,” he laughed.

“I drink such tiny coffees all the time to quality control. I think I’m probably a litre and a half a day.”

Epoch Chemistry opened in 2019 and to the public in 2020. It’s unique in the way that it offers nothing but coffee.

The team focuses on wholesale, education and experiences.

“We actually kind of pivoted in the pandemic to do a reservation tasting room, so we focused on coffee education. Educating our region on what sustainability and coffee looks like, how we can actually brew coffee more deliberately and better.”

“We have seen almost 9,000 tasters through our tasting experience since 2020.”

While it’s a daily beverage for most, there are actually two days dedicated to celebrating the substance. Friday marked National Coffee Day, with International Coffee Day following closely behind on Sunday.

“In Canada, coffee is the most frequently consumed drink, period. It’s more frequently consumed every day by people than tap water, bottled water, milk, beer, soft drinks, you name it,” said Gavin Fridell, a Saint Mary’s University research professor and global development studies chair. 

With three books dedicated to the brew, Fridell has been studying coffee for years, but his research goes deeper than your average cup.

“I’d say the dominant theme of my books on coffee has always been about the inequality that cuts through the coffee industry,” he said.

“I’m a development studies professor and so my books have always been about the gap in the global coffee industry between super rich and relatively poor.”

He estimates that the coffee industry is worth around $500 billion a year.

“Starbucks revenue last year was $32 billion, the founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, he’s worth $3.9B and that’s one side of the worlds coffee industry and then the other side of the worlds coffee industry, the one I’m concerned about, is the workers and the small farmers who produce all that coffee for us but get a really, often but not always, bad deal out of it,” he added.

He says when he started his research, he wasn’t a big coffee consumer, but he’s now up to 3-4 cups a day.

“If you’re in Canada you’re now paying 23 per cent more for coffee then you did two years ago,” he said.

“Coffee’s increased more than our food, it’s increased more than our rental accommodations, it’s draining people’s bank accounts more than ever before, but people love their coffee.”

For many, it’s a daily luxury they refuse to give up.

“Coffee equipment sales, they were like 1,300-1,400 per cent over, year-over-year during the pandemic. It’s because we couldn’t go to Starbucks and go to the drive through anymore. We had to, all of a sudden, learn how to make it at home. So I think that gave a lot more intentionality to how people were brewing coffee,” says Conway.

However people decide to consume it, whether that’s from a local café or at home, it’s a drink choice that many reach for.

Conway says at Epoch Chemistry, they’re trying to be very deliberate, highlight producers and really build a community.

“We’re definitely on the new forefront of what coffee should be, which I’m really excited to be a part of and we’re always challenging ourselves to do more.”

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