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The Best Place for Coffee in Law School: Hello My Friend Café

Karey Thomson (2L)


If you’ve never heard of Hello My Friend Café, you must be a 1L. You’ll find this beloved little coffee shop in The Gavel (the law student lounge). The owner and only server is Steve, who greets every customer with a smile and a hello. He’ll remember your name and always have an encouraging word, and has even been spotted playing chess with some of the regulars. The coffee is always fresh and the location can’t be beat. HMF has been serving coffee, tea, and snacks in the Gavel for years and its owner has made a huge impression on generations of law students. Maybe you’ve already met a couple UAlberta Law grads who’ve asked you “Hey, is Steve still around?”

The café’s importance to the faculty was tested in April 2015 when Facilities and Operations informed Steve that his lease was almost up with no renewal clause. A rumor began to circulate on social media that the café was being replaced by a Starbucks and the student body was not here for it. A petition was immediately started, which garnered over 1400 signatures, in an effort to get the lease renewed. People left hundreds of comments describing how Steve had made their law school experience better, urging the University to let him stay. Despite the fact that it was the middle of finals month, an emergency town hall was called on April 15, 2015. Students, practicing lawyers, and even people from other faculties came together to hear Dean Paton address the situation. The Dean conveyed his support for the petition and relayed a comment sent to him by an alumnus which captured the mood of the room: “Caffeine may be flowing through the veins of everyone in the building, but Steve is the beating heart that keeps everyone going.”

Of course, the campaign was successful and that’s why you can go down and get a coffee or a tea from Steve today. This story is a perfect demonstration of the collegiality this faculty prides itself on. Everyone has a different experience in law, but an appreciation for hearing “hello my friend!” on a dark morning is something I think we all have in common.

(The saga of Hello My Friend Café is chronicled here: