Home Feature Tóta Ma’s ready to serve up a cup of jo today!

Tóta Ma’s ready to serve up a cup of jo today!

Head on over to Tota Ma’s grand opening today and try out the java offerings of Tewatohnhi’sáktha’s Achieving Concrete Essentials (ACE) students! (Daniel J. Rowe The Eastern Door)

Speaking with a couple of staff at Tóta Ma’s Coffee House, Daisy Rice is among the best at making a cup of coffee.

Rice picked up the fine art of making mochas, lattes and espressos quickly, and is among the best at making a fine cup.

“I learned fast,” she said adding that she is working on perfecting her java art game and making designs like the best baristas.

Tóta Ma’s opens today and is the product of employees hired by Tewatohnhi’sáktha in the ACE (Achieving Concrete Essentials) program.

For the past month, employees have been learning the theory and mechanics of opening a business, and will be selling sourced coffee, tea and other café snacks at Tota Ma’s starting today (Friday).

The program teaches employees to properly register businesses, handle books, prepare business plans, and be equipped to produce feasibility studies, market studies and business plans.

After theory comes practice.

Program coordinator Kaylia Marquis suggested setting up a café to put into practice what the employees who signed up for the program learned.

“It’s different from just saying ‘this is what I want to do’ than actually going through the mechanics of doing it,’” said program coordinator Kaylia Marquis.

The young entrepreneurs crossed the bridge for barista training in Montreal in addition to having their horizons broadened on the world of coffee.

The cafe will serve Moccasin Jo coffee, a Kanesatake-based company making brews that have already impressed a few in the community.

“We brought the free samples over to the bank, and everyone loved it,” said Emmitt Hamelin. “It was only in a little shot cup, and that’s all that people needed to taste it.”

Though coffee is not his first choice for a drink, Hamelin has come to appreciate it after learning so much about how it’s grown, roasted and brewed.

“I’ve liked it,” he said. “I’m not really a coffee drinker, but just getting introduced to it, I’ve been enjoying my experience.”

The coffee shop also focuses on promoting Onkwehón:we businesses in addition to being environmentally responsible, and, because it’s a Tewatohnhi’sáktha initiative, not competitive with local businesses.

“We’re approaching existing caterers and restaurants to supply us with any quick snacks that we might supply here, so that we’re further recommending their businesses,” said Marquis.

Those coming without a travel mug or jar will need to purchase one, as disposable cups will not be served, limiting the business’s environmental footprint.

Moccasin Jo owner Walter David explained how growing and roasting coffee is a complicated art where every step can change the taste of the final brew.

“It was really cool how he explained it,” said Hamelin. “He said that anything could change it, from when it’s picked to when it’s on the ship coming over. Any sort of environment can change that taste.”


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Daniel J. Rowe is an award-winning reporter and photographer originally from BC. In addition to journalism, he produces and edits a Shakespeare-inspired blog and podcast called the Bard Brawl. His writing has also appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press, U.S. Lacrosse magazine and elsewhere. His facial hair rotates with the season, and he’s recently discovered the genius of wearing a cowboy hat. He wrote for The Eastern Door from 2011 to 2019.