By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – After years of travelling to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cuba, Italy and more, Drew McIntosh is preparing to open the Grizzlar Coffee and Records, a café and record label.
“I’ve had coffee in a lot of different places and I think you can learn a lot about people by doing that,” says McIntosh. “I went to Italy and trained as a coffee roaster in Florence for a little while. I learned coffee has a lot to do with philosophy and culture. It reflects how we show up in the process.”
Drinking coffee at one of the oldest coffee shops in Europe, Caffe Quadri overlooking St. Mark’s Square in Venice, was a pivotal experience for McIntosh when it came to deciding the feel of Grizzlar. He wanted to keep the tradition alive but infuse it with an element he knows extremely well.
“There’s a lot of ways to do coffee with a punk rock ethos,” explains McIntosh.
“Especially when you consider sourcing and how everyone is being treated as you go through the entire process. I’ve seen cafes that speak to me and feel inviting to me. I want to put all of it together and become a place that values the quality of the coffee but also art and music.”
The idea behind the Grizzlar (aside from a deep love of coffee, of course) is based on the evolution of the polar bear and grizzly bear as their territories blend in Northern Canada. This new bear is evolving, much like the way we consume culture and music.
McIntosh has been heavily involved in the international punk rock community for some time, working with the Solidarity Rock Project in Cuba for eight years and travelling there 24 times during that stint. As a result, he has evolved like his beloved namesake.
The Grizzlar Coffee & Records is a way to use that experience to publish quality art on an international scale. At press time, McIntosh was in Guadalajara, Mexico facilitating a recording by Ontario noise rock group Whoop-Szo at Rockweiler Studio.
“There’s room for a lot of other experiences in the punk scene in Western Canada,” he says. “In places like Montreal or Toronto there’s a much more international element to the punk scenes. One of the things I can do with this business is promote artists from around the world. It would be easy to fall into the trap of putting out my buddy’s records, but if what we’re releasing is sort of a rarity, we’ll more easily establish ourselves as unique distributors in Western Canada.”
Once the shop storefront is open, it will serve as a base for whatever McIntosh dreams up next.
“I wanna sell the punks in Canada coffee,” he says with a grin. “I wanna make a bunch of records and do something that isn’t being done: highlighting the quality of this coffee with DIY art and music.
There’s room for something like this and I want to be the one who does it well.”
Keep your eyes on @thegrizzlar (Facebook & Instagram) for official opening date, location and upcoming releases.Grizzlar Coffee & Records