Sheree McKay is preparing chocolate at East Van Roasters. She is coping with mental illness and recovering from addiction. This job is helping her stay sober.
East Van Roasters is located near Pigeon Park, in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Sheree live upstairs, at the Ranier Hotel. The hotel is a recovery centre for marginalized women in the neighborhood.
The cafe is Vancouver’s first bean-to-bar coffee shop and chocolateria. In addition to serving coffee and chocolate to their customers, they have become a supplier for many restaurants in Vancouver.
They were created as an employment program to transition women into the economy. In order to employ more women, they make their chocolate from scratch.
The coffee shop took part in the 4th Annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival. From January 18 to Valentine’s Day, East Van Roasters and 21 other shops served 60 innovative hot chocolate creations.
A part of the Hot Chocolate Festival’s proceeds went to the Portland Hotel Society and East Van Roasters. Without that support, the shop says it would likely have to lay off employees.