When Casa Acoreana, the iconic corner coffee shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market closed its doors in June after nearly 56 years in business, residents and locals mourned its loss, worrying who would take over the location. Just a month later, however, the community opened their arms to Jodie Emery who took over 235 Augusta Ave with her hemp and cannabis-themed coffee shop Jodie’s Joint, with blessings from the previous owners. We spoke to Jodie about the venture, her cannabis activism, and why hemp is the material of the future.
What Is Jodie’s Joint?
The concept of Jodie’s Joint is a concept I’ve had for a number of years. As a cannabis legalization activist, I’ve envisioned legalization looking like Amsterdam, where you can enjoy really nice coffee and cannabis in the same space. You can access it and consume it, and to me, that is the ideal model for adults. I always told a good friend of mine Sam James, if I ever opened up my own cannabis cafe I would love to carry his coffee, because I’ve been a fan for years here in Toronto. This spring, things started falling into place with this potential location in Kensington Market opening up.
How has the transition from Casa Coffee been?
I met Ozzie who ran Casa Coffee here at Augusta and Baldwin. For decades he and his family had been running a bulk food, spice and coffee shop. Because it’s on the corner right in the heart of Kensington Market, it has been a place of gathering and a people watching spot for so many years. There have been a lot of concerns about how the neighbourhood is changing and how new businesses are coming into the neighbourhood. The community was so upset that they lost their coffee shop and I said I promise it’s going to be great coffee, and a lot of people came in sceptical and they wanted to dislike us and they wanted to be disappointed, but instead, they said: “wow that’s actually really good.” So for me, it’s always about having high-quality products and service. In this location, we’ve painted the walls nice and white and brought in wood countertops because I love nature, and I’m an environmentalist. I wanted to showcase a lot of nature, so we have lots of plants and greenery, and not only that, Hemp for me is a major passion.
How has your hemp activism influenced the design choices of Jodies joint?
My cannabis activism is focused mostly on civil liberties and the political and criminal justice side of things, but as an environmentalist, I love cannabis hemp. It is food, fuel, fibre, medicine, it can absorb carbon dioxide… etc. So I thought, what if a coffee shop showcased all the ways you can use hemp in the design? Ultimately my vision includes building actual buildings with hemp-based material.
For my taste, I wanted a more elevated experience. I wanted to have a cafe that shows off cannabis hemp through good design. We have beautiful hemp wallpaper, hemp fabric seat covers on the cushions and the benches and a gorgeous hemp varnish on our walnut wood countertops as well which were supplied by Andrew of Ashh Collective. Hemp oil has this incredible warm feel to it, but it is also non-toxic, food safe and waterproof.
Cannabis hemp has so much to offer and I wanted to showcase that alongside really great coffee from Cut Coffee that I personally love and enjoy and trust, it’s locally roasted and it’s been around for almost 10 years. I also wanted to showcase hemp baked goods so we are going to rotate different snacks and cookies and muffins made from hemp flour and hemp seeds because it is one of the most nutritious sources of omega fatty acids in the world.
Ultimately what is the vision for Jodies Joint going Forward?
The name Jodie’s Joint sounds cute but it comes from the fact that I roll joints a lot. I would love to sell pre-rolled packs, and a joint is also a hangout spot. A friend of mine also remarked how it gives a whole new meaning to the term “grab a cup of joe..” It’s just a coffee shop right now there’s no marijuana being sold or smoked. But the ideal vision is to have the upstairs level opened up to the public, as adults to consume cannabis, because politically speaking, Canada is legalizing Cannabis in October.
I’ve operated a lounge in Vancouver for 12 years, it’s adult only, it’s totally fantastic and people want that experience, so I want to add more of those locations to Toronto. We want to have live music, performances, art, and I’m going to do regular shows and interviews. It’s a perfect location in the market, it’s right at the corner, we have this upper level.. It really is a privilege and an honour to be here in this spot, and all of my local friends and artists really have come together to help make this my dream come true. I think what sets this project apart from a lot of other new Cannabis businesses is authenticity. I’ve been in this game a long time and a lot of people can feel that.
are you looking to expand to other locations eventually?
The goal is to create an easily copied model which would create more demand for the hemp products that I’m using. That for me is a do good activist aim. A lot of businesses that use hemp go out of business, it’s expensive it’s limited. There’s not enough demand for it to keep these companies in business. I’m hoping by creating a model that sustains demand, I’ll be able to one day say I can order a million cups made out of hemp paper instead of plastic.
Is private Cannabis retail going to be incorporated into Jodies Joint?
Now the government of Ontario is saying they might be heading in the direction of allowing private retail.. which opens up a whole other activist battle at this location. Ultimately the dream would be to have the private retail, the lounge and the coffee, but for now, we’re just going with the flow.
Cody is a content creator at Glossi Mag.
He is a photography aficionado, theatre school alumni, fashion enthusiast, avid Ariana Grande fan and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.