More than Just Good Coffee

Cafe_AmyCelebrating its one year anniversary, Café Oranje may be the only spot in Hamilton where customers can sip a variety of brews from five local coffee roasters. Amy Gringhuis, Hamilton District Christian High alumna and co-owner of Café Oranje, is pleased to offer her customers ethically traded and locally roasted coffee. She loves to support the tight-knit local coffee community and notes that such support is also good for business.

Amy graduated from Hamilton District Christian High in 1998 and went on to pursue an Honours Degree in English Literature at Redeemer University College. Never intending to become an entrepreneur, she spent ten years doing media research for several media companies before opening Café Oranje with her business partner Chris Godwalt.

Looking back, I realize the quality of education I got at HDCH was really high.”

- Amy

After meeting through mutual friends in the coffee trade, Amy and Chris spent two years planning the café before actually opening it. They spoke with other independent café owners, financial advisors, lawyers, accountants and met with the Business Enterprise department at the City of Hamilton. “We were keenly aware that this was new territory for us and we wanted to learn as much as we could about the business. We didn’t want to assume we had it all figured out.”

The biggest challenged turned out to be finding a location. After a year- long, drawn-out process their preferred location didn’t work out. So they continued their search until they found their current home in the International Village neighbourhood on King Street East in Hamilton.

Most days, Amy wakes early to pick up fresh baked goods before opening the café at 7:00am. She spends her days managing the shop and preparing fresh, homemade food for her customers.  Amy notes that her customers are people who appreciate a high quality, ethical product, and who care about how their coffee is prepared. She finds that people who live in her community are eager to support her local business and simply want an alternative to corporate coffee chains. Amy smiles and adds, “Café Oranje is a coffee house that ties our Dutch heritage with our Hamilton roots. So we also serve Dutch people who are curious to see what two second and third generation Dutch descendants have done with a coffee shop in downtown Hamilton.”

Amy still has significant memories from her years at Hamilton District Christian High. She recalls how fun the Quebec ski trip was and that she enjoyed most of her classes and teachers. “I remember James Apers’ Media Class and learning about propaganda and media bias. I realized for the first time how important it was to read between the lines and how what wasn’t reported could be just as important as what was.” Amy adds that she learned how to write a really good essay in English class by asking the question, “So what?” “Asking myself ‘Why does it matter what I’m doing?’ and ‘Is there a better way to communicate the same thing?’ has become so much bigger for me than writing a good essay.”

ASprogisAdrianne Sprogis
Communications Specialist