Award-winning Vancouver artisan coffee and chocolate specialists East Van Roasters (EVR) has a new ownership model and market expansion plans.

The fair-trade coffee roaster and bean-to-bar chocolatier is transferring from founders PHS Community Services Society to a newly formed Community Contribution Company.

“We are immensely proud of the many achievements of EVR,” said PHS CEO Micheal Vonn. “Under Shelley Bolton’s leadership, EVR has been recognized with awards and provided meaningful work and mentorship to members of our community.

“We are excited for EVR’s new chapter, which will preserve its spirit and achievements and give it the growth opportunity it so deeply deserves.”

Since opening in 2012, EVR has supported marginalized women to re-enter the workforce through mentorship-based programming and on-the-job training – and this isn’t going to change.

Fair trade

The community café and store will remain a compassionate and supportive environment providing meaningful work and organic fair trade choices, partnering with suppliers that develop relationships with cacao and coffee bean farmers to create positive social and environmental change.

And the venture is set to grow under the expert guidance of new owners Brad Mills, former CEO of Mills Basics – a family-owned office supplier with nine B.C. locations – and Ian Tostenson, CEO of BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

Brad explained: “After working on the board with HAVE Culinary Training Society social enterprise for 14 years in the Downtown Eastside, the social value created by EVR is why Ian and I wanted to support EVR.

“Professionally, Ian and I are seen as business-focused, but it’s the targeted and peer employment job creation for women in the community that drives us.

“it’s all about adding our skillset to the amazing community efforts that creates the potential to address poverty and create opportunities for everyone.”

Social value

Or as Ian puts it: “Who’s buying a cafe in Vancouver in March 2021? Obviously, it’s the social value we want to preserve and grow, along with the potential for growth.”

EVR will continue offering low-barrier pre-employment training for women in the Downtown Eastside, offering up to 12 peer positions ranging between four and 20 weekly hours per person.

Training provided includes barista skills, food safety, customer service, culinary skills and CPR/OD intervention.

Shelley Bolton, EVR Executive Director, product designer and creator said: “EVR is all about blending the sales of our fair-trade organic coffee roasting and award-winning chocolates with providing supportive employment programs.”


Under her direction, EVR has scooped up a series of awards including an impressive selection of trophies from the 2019 International Chocolate Awards World Final, in International, Canadian and Bean-to-Bar categories.

But it’s not the only PHS social venture with independent plans: Washington Community Market is now a community economic development initiative of Community Impact Real Estate Society.

The social enterprise store has been a fixture in the lives of low-income Downtown Eastside residents for 25 years, providing low-cost essential food and household supplies, whilst creating low barrier training opportunities for people looking to re-enter the workforce.

  • EVRs’ handmade specialties remain the most impactful cup of coffee and bar of chocolate you can enjoy – so please continue supporting the business!
  • Meanwhile, Washington Community Market remains a valued community resource, one of a small number of outlets offering nutritious and convenient food – again, please continue your support.


East Van Roasters