Calgarians don’t know the difference between an espresso and instant coffee.
Actually, that is not true. Calgary’s independent coffee culture dates back to the early 80s, well before Starbuck’s invasion. In Kensington, Higher Ground café has been serving fine coffee since 1982, and The Roasterie has been roasting its own beans since 1984. Café Beano has been a hit with Calgary’s bobo culture along Uptown 17thsince 1990.
Today, Calgary is home to several homegrown roasters and cafes that make it one of the more interesting coffee cultures in North America. If you are a contemporary coffee aficionado, here are some caffeine hot spots.
Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters started out as pop-up coffee shop at the Calgary Farmer’s Market in 2006. Today, is has several locations across the city including two unique sites in the downtown - one in the historic Hudson block on Stephen Avenue that it shares with the ATB bank/art gallery (how cool is that) and one in East Village’s trendy Simmons Building.
In 2007, Café Rosso opened in the community of Ramsay in an old Dominion Bridge industrial building definitely off-the-beaten path. But they made it work and before you knew it, they had several locations around the city. Not only that, in 2012 they started to experiment with roasting their own beans, which they now ship across Canada. In 2018, one of the partners Cole Torode placed 5that the World Barista Championships. Café Rosso, has a flagship café in the new National Music Centre.
In 2012, Jeremy Ho won the title of Best Barista in Canada and in 2014 his buddy Ben Put won the championship for the second year in a row, while working at Phil & Sebastian. Together they capitalized on their fame to create Monogram Coffee Co. that is both a custom roasterie and operates boutique cafes.
How to do you fix up the family’s tired old drug store? If you are Gareth Lukes, you add a café at the entrance, grocery in the basement, some shelves for records and other hip items and “voila” - hipster hangout. This is exactly what he did in 2012 with the families Bridgeland drug store and he hasn’t looked back. He was an early adopter of Portland’s Stumptown beans, but he continued to source new beans and still continues to do so. He has just opened a flagship café in Calgary’s stunning new Central Library.
If you are looking for an old school bohemian coffee house from the ‘60s, Calgary has two - Bell’s in Marda Loop and Weeds in Capitol Hill.
Link: Calgary: North America’s Newest Cafe City?