There are plenty of places to get a good cup of Joe in Whistler, but none of them are quite like Camp Lifestyle + Coffee Co.
Opened in August, Camp is the kind of funky, eclectic haunt that you'd be more likely to find in the heart of East Van than in Function Junction. Founded by designers Lynn Gentile and Martin Stockley, Camp was envisioned as an inclusive, inviting neighbourhood espresso bar that certainly lives up to its moniker.
"I was going for a gathering place that felt warm and welcoming and that people of any age group or background could relate to, which is why we came up with the name Camp," Gentile said. "Camp to me is a place where friends gather close to nature. People from all over the world are familiar with camp, and it's a place where memories are made."
With a West Coast-inspired aesthetic, no element has gone unnoticed at Camp. From the loft ceiling, stripped concrete floors and sustainably-sourced wood accents, you're immediately struck by its rustic yet modern feel. Head to the backyard, appropriately called the Camp Site, and you'll find a tranquil outdoor hangout spot built around a fire pit. (In true camp tradition, you'll soon be able to roast your own s'mores back there, Gentile said.)
To keep that serenity intact, Gentile has also taken the rare step of cutting the Wi-Fi, all in the effort of creating a social environment where patrons can actually interact with the people around them.
"I had Wi-Fi for one day and everybody zoned out and nobody was talking to anybody," she explained. "I want people to talk to each other. We're so attached to our devices and we really need to connect with each other, not with our friends somewhere else. We need to be in the moment."
It's that mindfulness (Camp is actually an acronym for Coffee and Mindful Products) that has been underwritten into every decision made at the store. The main floor showcases products created ethically and sustainably by local talent, where you'll find everything from courier bags made from recycle bike tires and seat belts, to keychains and belt buckles made from old skateboards.
"We are sourcing items very consciously," said Gentile.
Of course, this is a food and drink column and I've failed to even touch on the menu so far. This is probably due to just how struck I was by the shop's unique design aesthetic — you can't help but be charmed. But the same attention to detail the owners have put into the interior and product line has also been paid to the menu.
You won't find many sugary, syrup-laden drinks at Camp. Instead Gentile is letting the rich, dark 49th Parallel coffee beans— not to mention the high-end La Marzocco espresso machine behind the counter — do the talking.
"We want to be an authentic espresso bar," Gentile said.
Without a kitchen onsite, Camp has called on local bakers to provide the kind of "yummy yet nourishing" items Whistler's health-conscious set would appreciate. That means plenty of gluten-free goods, open-faced pies, franzipan and fresh-baked scones. Gentile said she's also looking at expanding the shop's lunch offerings in the future.
Camp is located at 1066 Millar Creek Rd. Check out their website at www.camplifestyle.ca.
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