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
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? 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)
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
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
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
10134 104 Street, Edmonton
Weekdays 7 am-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-6 pm