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Guelph man brews up successful YouTube channel

Lifestyle Lab, a channel run by Guelph resident Matt Stiver, has garnered millions of views and over 85,000 subscribers

If you’ve purchased an espresso machine and had some trouble figuring out how it works, chances are you might know Guelph's Matt Stiver.

He is the host of Lifestyle Lab, a YouTube channel that teaches people how to use different styles of espresso machines. The channel boasts over 85,000 subscribers, and the 282 videos posted have gotten nearly 23 million views to date.

But how did it all start for the 29-year-old?

Well, it was all about filling a bit of a void in the digital world after the University of Guelph grad first purchased a machine while he was still an engineering student.

“I found that there wasn’t a lot of resources out there on how to use it,” the Ottawa native said.

“As I was teaching myself how to use it, I also decided to make some resources for others and share that,” he said. “Those (videos) did well, and honestly looking back on some of the advice I was giving – what worked for me at the time – I now realize that it wasn’t necessarily fully accurate.”

Matt Stiver, an engineer living in Guelph, is the host of Lifestyle Lab, a YouTube channel with over 85,000 subscribers. Mark Pare/GuelphToday

The self-described “serial researcher” added it was okay, because learning things along with the audience is kind of what allowed the channel to grow.

The channel doesn’t just feature coffee machine reviews.

Stiver has dabbled with other items over the years, including a 27-second video posted six years ago on how to remove a pink line from a Samsung phone that has garnered over a million views.

The channel sat dormant for a time, but he kicked it into high gear with the coffee machine reviews consistently three years ago.

“I’m not somebody who necessarily was rooted in the coffee industry before starting the channel,” Stiver said. “I discovered it, and I’ve been exploring it and I’m teaching and learning as I go.”

For him, what was once just a hobby has unexpectedly grown into something more.

“Ironically, we were actually consciously trying to really grow a YouTube channel for my girlfriend at the time,” he said. “Somehow, I ended up being the person that it worked out for.”

Stiver has about a dozen espresso machines in his apartment, mostly stored off camera in his studio room. He’ll hang onto a number of them for the sake of making comparisons on his videos.

He said he’ll either purchase a machine, or a company will loan him one to review.

Then, he’ll spend the next three to four weeks familiarizing himself with it, brewing and filming the machine in action every morning along the way.

Stiver keeps it pretty Guelph-centric. The beans he uses are typically from specialty coffee shops, including Found Coffee, KANOO and Cabin Coffee.

“I gotta get a really good feel for it,” he said. “And then I start writing a script over the course of probably a week.

“The actual filming and editing process is probably another week in total.”

Guelph's Matt Stiver checks out his equipment before recording a video. Mark Pare/GuelphToday

It’s a big commitment, and on top of holding down a full-time job as an engineer to boot, he admits the time management is a little tougher now that he’s taking the YouTube channel seriously.

He plans to hire some employees in the next 12 months, and turning into a full-time YouTuber isn’t out of the question.

But Stiver said it comes down to his personal thoughts on risk and career development.

“I have a good career as an engineer,” he said. “I love the place that I work, it’s a very rewarding industry in hearing health. It’s a tug-of-war, and me just being a naturally risk-averse person and I’m young, I don’t have a family, I have time to give, I’m fine to just work both for now, with the understanding that at one point, something will have to be figured out.”

He admits going at this pace won’t be sustainable forever, but he’s willing to ride the wave for now.

“Obviously I’m unwilling to impact my performance at my day job, but I’m also unwilling to sacrifice this thing that I’ve built,” Stiver said.

“It really is probably my biggest accomplishment so far in life. I’m certainly not going to let it go.”