By Hollie Grace James –
Janet Nicol was a bright-eyed sixteen-year-old when she left Ottawa behind to discover the wider world. Her time abroad would find her shopping at organic markets in Melbourne, riding camels in Erg Chebbi, and spending much of her time in Southeast Asia, where she fell in love with many of the things she serves in her café today, like raw chocolate, lassi, and masala chai.
Throughout these years as a traveller, which included a more permanent stint in Bali, Janet spent time discovering and collecting, not things, but experiences – all of which would prove useful when she was suddenly pulled back to her hometown of Ottawa. After returning about two years ago, she dove right into the coffeeshop scene but was disappointed to find she wasn’t truly enjoying her time spent at many of these establishments. She was not a fan of people just sitting in rows with headphones on, noses buried deep in their laptops, oblivious to the world around them. She yearned for a space, a community. And, above all else, she wanted good coffee.
Being unable to find what she was looking for emboldened her decision to open up her own spot. And so Jamari Espresso House – along with a conjoined movement studio called Metta Movement – were born.
Think of Jamari (located at 5 Hamilton Ave. N.) as the chic parlour room to Metta Movement, where they offer some unique takes on the usual fare. Janet found the coffee she was after. Jamari’s coffee selection features Reunion Island Coffee beans, discovered by Janet in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighborhood. It’s available as a regular, brewed pour-over or as a single shot of espresso.
Lassies originate from the Indian sub-continent, a blend of yogourt, water, spices and sometimes fruit, like mango, and at Jamari they’re made to order.
Their masala chai is made in a traditional self-brewing samovar fresh each morning, reminiscent of how she fell in love with it in India, where it is often served on the corner of the street.
They’ve also got an October launch date for their bone broth – just in time for the hot liquid-sipping season.
And finally, if you’re into the latest superfoods, then you’ll want to try her raw chocolate, made in-house. She loves chocolate, but finds that most chocolate bars are overly processed. While living in Bali, she pulled the cacao leaves off of her trees, opened them up, and ate the bean. She then began grinding them up to make her own chocolate with cocoa oil/cocoa butter (but no sugar!). It’s a carb- free, low-calorie way to get your fix. She enjoys a big chunk of it every morning.
At the same time that Janet was on the lookout for good coffee, she was also searching for a place to move her body in creative, dynamic and innovative ways. And again, she couldn’t exactly find what she needed. So she founded Metta Movement and Meditation Studio, which features both an outdoor and indoor space, to share her passion and knowledge with like-minded individuals.
This is a “natural movement” studio that is designed to be secular and accessible. She credits much of her inspiration to a quirky, unusual Toronto meditation teacher named Jeff Warren who has co-written a book called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. She offers non-membership, 45-minute drop-in classes taught by a variety of teachers, and is hoping to join the likes of those trendy wellness meditation centers booming in bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles.
In the last 24 months, Janet has been testing coffee around the globe in preparation to open her own place. Now that time has arrived and she’s excited to bring cozy vibes and interesting food to Kitchissippi.