Tag Archives: Edmonton coffee

Edmonton’s Coffee Mecca

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The Columbian Coffee & Roastery is a nice new neighbourhood cafe in Edmonton

There’s a good case for making Edmonton the number two coffee hot spot in western Canada, behind Vancouver. Of course, Edmontonians aren’t as precious about how they roast and prepare their coffee as the wet coasters.

Still, there are always new coffee shops popping up in Alberta’s capital. After profiling half a dozen places a couple of years ago, I figured it was time for a fresh visit up north.

The first stop was The Colombian Coffee & Roastery, next door to the venerable Vi’s for Pies in the city’s leafy Glenora neighbourhood; the roasting happens at the back of the long, narrow space. It seemed like an odd, generic name, until I learned co-owner Santiago Lopez was from Colombia and that some of the roastery’s beans come from a family farm there. Talk about farm to cup.

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Nice ceramic mugs for the Americanos

The place was hopping on a dreary Saturday morning, with lots of folks ordering avocado toast to go with steaming mugs of java. Good stuff, evidence that if you build a good coffee shop in a nice district, the neighbours will come.

Somewhat harder to find is ACE Coffee Roasters, on a little side street south of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton’s Strathcona district. It’s a lovely, spacious place with high ceilings, exposed ductwork and a gleaming marble coffee bar.

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ACE Coffee Roasters is a spacious spot near Whyte Avenue

My Americano was one of the better ones I’ve had in Edmonton. The coffee is nicely chased with donuts baked at partner Café Leva in Garneau.

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Fine espressos pulled at the gleaming coffee bar

In the attached space, separated by a glass wall, is the company’s Caffe Tech, where you can drop a few grand on high-end home and commercial espresso machines. Think I’ll just let the expert barrista pull the shots for me.

The Columbian Coffee & Roastery
1, 10340 134 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta
Weekdays 7 am-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-6 pm, Sunday 9 am-3 pm
780-757-9195

ACE Coffee Roasters
10055 80 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
Wednesday to Sunday 8 am-4 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday

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Edmonton’s Coffee Scene Perking Up

Coffee Bureau is just one of the new cafes that has popped up in Edmonton

Coffee Bureau is just one of the new cafes that has popped up in Edmonton

Until recently, Edmonton’s coffee scene was best described as slumbering. But suddenly, it’s jolted to double-shot life, to the point where it’s surprisingly surpassed Calgary.

Consider that four (that’s right, four) new, independent coffee shops have opened in the first half of this year. Indeed, two— Coffee Bureau and the basement Lock Stock Coffee, attached to Red Star Pub—are across the street from each other on formerly moribund Jasper Avenue.

Lock Stock Coffee is a little basement space attached to Red Star Pub

Lock Stock Coffee is a little basement space attached to Red Star Pub

A third, Barking Buffalo Cafe, has joined the action on fashionable 124 Street, where Credo added a second outlet a year earlier. The last of the new arrivals, Little Brick Cafe and General Store, is part of Nate Box’s growing empire, which includes two newish downtown locations, Burrow (in an underground light-rail transit station) and District Coffee.

Little Brick Cafe is in a charming historic building in the Riverdale neighbourhood

Little Brick Cafe is in a charming historic building in the Riverdale neighbourhood

If there’s a theme to this caffeinated surge, it’s this: Hole-in-the-wall spaces with limited seating and a firm focus on crafting fine espresso-based drinks and offering just a few baked treats. It’s also interesting that the roasts in these places lean to the dark side, a pushback, perhaps, against the lighter beans long fashionable in aficionado coffee circles.

Coffee Bureau is symbolic of the new-look Edmonton cafe. It’s elegantly spare, containing maybe a dozen seats at pine tables and benches along the front window and a side wall decorated with good, local art. Yet it doesn’t feel cramped. The nice, darker espresso beans are from Edmonton’s new Ace Coffee Roasters and the muffins and croissants from Garneau’s Leva Cafe.

Featuring beans from Toronto micro roaster Pilot, Barking Buffalo Cafe is a unique combination of coffee shop and clothing designer/retailer Salgado Fenwick. It’s another caffeinated 124 Street option to those who don’t want to line up for the uber popular, excellent bakery Duchess.

Barking Buffalo Cafe shares space with a local clothing designer/store

Barking Buffalo Cafe shares space with a local clothing designer/store

Not to be left out, Edmonton’s south side will soon be joining the fun. The Woodrack Cafe is set to open on 109 Street later this year, and long-time local roaster Transcend Coffee will move into the new Ritchie market in 2016.

Will all these new coffee shops survive? Who knows. This much choice doesn’t seem to have hurt Seattle or Portland.

One thing’s for sure. Edmonton is embracing micro coffee shops with a religious fervour. Perhaps that explains why, of the new entries, only Little Brick is open on Sunday.

Edmonton Wakes Up and Smells the Coffee

Ryan Arcand runs the most laid-back, excellent coffeehouse you'll find at Iconoclast in Edmonton

Ryan Arcand runs the most laid-back, excellent coffeehouse you’ll find, at Iconoclast in Edmonton

I almost wish *Iconoclast Koffie Huis doesn’t get a lot more walk-up business. It’s selfish, I know. But in the four times I wander in over a week, co-owner Ryan Arcand shakes my hand, asks if I want my usual Americano or pour-over coffee (accompanied perhaps with an excellent muffin) and embarks on a long, relaxed chat. He greets occasional other customers by name, introducing them to anyone else who’s pulled up to the counter of this ultra-cool coffee bar. Conversations between strangers (new friends?) ensue, in stark contrast to the eyes glued to screens in most contemporary coffeehouses.

I’m sure things won’t always be this leisurely. But for now at least, Ryan seems perfectly happy with his low-key approach to marketing this new, central Edmonton coffeehouse. For one thing, it’s a bit hard to find, on a little side street across from a cemetery, with only a sandwich board advertising its presence. Indeed, Iconoclast’s website doesn’t currently mention the coffee bar, let alone its hours of operation.

That’s because most of its business is roasting wholesale beans for a growing list of discerning local restaurants and cafes. The small-batch roaster is at the back of an old, long warehouse that’s been lovingly refurbished with lots of repurposed wood, especially at the front coffee bar. On nice days, the bay doors might be rolled up, a table or two pulled out and a chessboard set up for an extended game between Ryan and local sculptor/part-time barista Rob Willms, who helped refurbish the place. Like I said, it’s laid back.

Iconoclast's roaster is in back of the coffee bar in this refurbished warehouse

Iconoclast’s roaster is in back of the coffee bar in this refurbished warehouse

While all things coffee course through Ryan’s veins, he’s perhaps most excited about the prospect of roasting cocoa, of all things, for use primarily in his partner’s (Sjoukje Bouma) line of Pinto chocolates. During one visit, he roasts a small batch of cocoa beans and scatters them on the counter for customers to sample. They’re nutty, delicious and addictive, the smoky flavour lingering long after I’ve resumed my more frantic day.

Roasted cocoa beans, anyone?

Roasted cocoa beans, anyone? Taste these gems and you might forsake the usual, sweetened chocolate

Folks, this is what a great coffeehouse is all about.

Iconoclast Koffie Huis
11807B 105 Avenue
Monday to Saturday 8:30 am-5 pm (with longer hours as summer approaches)
Iconoclast Koffiehuis on Urbanspoon

The latest entry in Edmonton’s downtown-area cafe scene is District Coffee Co., an offshoot of Nate Box’s popular Elm Cafe, though slightly larger (two tables!, along with some window seating). It’s already attracting a loyal clientele lining up for espresso-based drinks and a short, ever-changing menu of creative soups and salads, scones and other in-house baked treats. The day’s pot pie ($8) is a steaming mix of pulled pork and Granny Smith apple wrapped in a flaky pastry—a nice, light lunch accompanied by a strong Americano (using Calgary’s Phil and Sebastian beans).

District Coffee is in slightly larger digs than its Elm Cafe sibling

District Coffee is in slightly larger digs than its Elm Cafe sibling

A pulled pork and apple pot pie goes down nicely with a coffee

A pulled pork and apple pot pie goes down nicely with a coffee

District Coffee Co.
101, 10011 109 Street
Weekdays 7 am-5 pm
District Coffee Co. on Urbanspoon

A couple of downtown Edmonton coffee shops have come and gone. But Credo remains a stalwart. The reasons? It’s a smartly-run place, with two espresso machines and a little line of pour-overs pumping out good Intelligentsia coffee to a steady stream of caffeine seekers. What really makes it stand out is the seven (seven!) types of fresh muffins pulled regularly from its oven, along with house-made granola bars. It’s the details that matter, and Credo checks every box.

Credo's house-made granola bars help make it stand out from the usual coffeehouse

Credo’s house-made granola bars help make it stand out from the usual coffeehouse

Credo
10134 104 Street, Edmonton
Weekdays 7 am-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-6 pm
Credo Coffee on Urbanspoon