Sparkplug Coffee

I received some samples from Sparkplug Coffee out of Toronto. As you open the box, you see the samples and one other item, a roll of Rockets, you know the candy you get at Halloween. This had me scratching my head as to what is the significance of this candy treat. I eventually found out they send some sort of thing be it candy or a fun little surprise, as well as a tip sheet with all their orders.

Where does the name come from?

The name Sparkplug Coffee evokes the delivery method – a vintage scooter or car zipping through traffic to bring coffee direct to your home.

The sparkplug is an essential part of a vehicle’s engine to start it up and keep it moving just like coffee gets our day off to a good start. Although most of our coffee is delivered by mail, if the weather is good and you live in Toronto, I may bring your coffee over on my vintage Vespa scooter or my mom’s early ’70s Raleigh bicycle.

The Beans

Globetrotter

Named for Kara’s dad, Merv, who loved coffee almost as much as wine. Merv was a Globetrotter and this coffee has a mix of organic dark roasted beans from all major coffee growing regions. The mix changes occasionally, depending on seasonal availability, while keeping the same strong, bold and delicious taste profile. A typical batch includes premium Arabica beans from Ethiopia in Africa, Brazil for South America, Indonesia representing Southeast Asia, and Honduras for Central America.

Our espresso blend, the Globetrotter is dark, smoky-sweet, complex, bold. Smooth and suave like Papa.

I actually tried this coffee three ways, I started off with an espresso shot. The espresso, pulled short with nice crema. Overall a good showing.

I then pulled another shot and blended this with some steamed milk. I thought it blended well. It made for a stronger latte. At the time I had this, I wish I would have had some oat milk in the house because I think this would work well with oat milk and give it just a little sweetness.

I also tried this one as a hand brew. It produced a bolder, stronger tasting coffee. Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of the darker roasts but this was still a tasty coffee.

The next day we tried this same blend as a drip at work. I received mixed reviews on this one as half our coffee drinkers really enjoyed while the rest said it was good but would prefer something else.

 

Road Trip

Road Trip is a post-roast blend, meaning that each type of bean is roasted separately before we mix them together for your order. Some beans are roasted on the lighter side of medium, some on the darker side. Overall, we call Road Trip a City Roast (on the lighter side of medium) blend.

Blending organic beans from the African birthplace of coffee and direct trade beans from the jungles of South America results in a sweet and balanced coffee.

This is our lightest roast blend. A delicate coffee with hints of blueberry, jasmine & raisin.

This hand brew had some really terrific subtle sweet flavors and really knocked my socks off. As this one cooled down a bit the flavors really jumped out at you. I really enjoyed this coffee.

Again, I did the same thing with this one as the other, I brought it to work and made it as a drip to see what kind of comments we got with this one. This one was the office favorite, absolutely no bitterness and they really loved the sweetness of this one.

Last Words

Both bags of coffee made some pretty good coffee producing lots of terrific flavours. Myself personally, I really enjoyed the Road Trip beans the best.

I also love the names of their coffees, all have a vintage feel. So go to their website at sparkplugcoffee.com and order yourself some of their beans. There is something there for everyone’s tastes.
note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Madhatter Coffee

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Our second and last stop in Medicine Hat was Mad Hatter Coffee. From the name we expected something totally different before we walked in, we imagined whimsical decor and boy were we surprised when we walked in.

The Interior

When we walked in it was very dark, almost ‘dingy’, the colour scheme was very very dark. It was almost unwelcoming. The roaster was located in the middle of the cafe and there was a little gate that we didn’t think we could enter through, but to our surprise you could to get to sit on the other side of the roaster.

They had a wall of different coffee beans that were all for sale. There was at least 20 different kinds, it shows that there is truly a coffee for everyone.

The Drinks

I ordered a Latte for $4.75 and it was made with their 3 bean blend. It was very light and didn’t really have any flavour. It really just tasted like hot milk, so it was sad. What’s crazy is that I had the same beans in Brooks at The Steaming Cup and the coffee was much better there. 

My wife ordered a Earl Grey Tea for $3.50 and it was good. It is a local company in Edmonton called Tea Girl.

My daughter also ordered a tea called Coconut White Tea for $3.50 and it was good. You could really taste the coconut flavour.

The Service

The girl at the front was really nice and answered our questions that we had. I had asked what beans were in the 3 bean blend and the girl had started to tell me and then the roaster jumped in and said to be quiet and that their blend was a company secret. It wasn’t said nicely, it was said with force and it was not needed. We felt sorry for the girl. We also had explained that we were a blogger and that we wouldn’t share what the blend was.

This was the first time we have come across a roaster that was not willing to share what the blend was, every other roaster we know is always excited to tell us their blends. Mostly because even if they use the same beans as another, they will never taste the same as each other.

The Hours

Monday to Friday – 7:00AM – 5:30PM

Saturday – 8:00AM – 5:30PM

Sunday – Closed

Parking

There was only street parking available. As a bonus it is free.

Last Words

I cannot see us going back to the cafe in the future. After the experience with the roaster and lack of flavour the coffee had, there is no reason to head back.

We did hear that there are new owners and we wish them the best, but like I said we will most likely not be heading back.

Station Coffee

Our first coffee shop was a little but very busy cafe. The location was just off the main street and had a nice patio out front, unfortunately there was not many people on the patio since it was a little chilly.

The Interior

There was a bunch of tables located inside and they were all full. Everyone was chatting and enjoying a beverage and a treat.

There is a huge display case with tons of baked goods and they all looked amazing. They also had a couple shelves located at the back with items for sale including Fratello and Medicine Hat Coffee Roasters Coffee.

The Drinks

I ordered a Latte for $4.75 and it was made with Fratello Godfather which was kind of sad because I didn’t need to drive the 260km to have the coffee I could get in Calgary. It still was good, but was slightly disappointing because of the brand of coffee.

My wife ordered a Strawberry Lemonade for $4.20 and it had a really great strawberry flavour.

My daughter ordered a Peach Creamsicle for $4.20 and she said she could really taste the peach but was not creamy or anything.

We also decided to participate in the Pour It Forward by purchasing a Latte for someone who just needs a coffee. Such a great program.

The Food

We also decided to get a couple treats to try since everything in their case looked amazing.

We ordered a Salted Caramel Pecan bar for $5.25 and it was good and gooey. The flavour was well balanced and we absolutely loved the giant pecans on top.

My daughter ordered a Birthday Cake Oreo Cheesecake for $6.50 and it had good flavour but the whip consistency was off. There was no flavour at all in the whip and the cheesecake was really good though.

The Service

We noticed that the staff didn’t really enjoy working there and didn’t show any excitement when we were talking about the coffee or the items. We did notice that they perked up when they knew someone in the line, which I don’t think is appropriate. They should show everyone the same service.

The Hours

Monday to Friday – 7:00AM – 5:00PM

Saturday – 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Sunday – 9:00AM – 4:00PM

Parking

There was street parking all on the street on both sides of the road.

Last Words

Even though the staff didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves, the place was quite busy and they were dealing with everyone. I would go back here as everything overall was really good.

Dilish Bites ‘n Brews

Do you like dill pickles? If so you need to check out this new bites and brew location on Edmonton Trail. They serve everything with a dill pickle and everything has pickles in it. Everything from dill pickle soup to a dill pickle flavoured caesar. Just know that this is very Dilish.

 

The Interior

It is not very big, but it is perfect for this location. There is seven tables and one family style table at the front. The inside is every clean and gorgeous, the herringbone style tiles on the wall is very pleasing to the eye. It is very classic and amazing inside.

The counter is in the middle of the shop and there is a food case with grab and go items as well as a cooler with Wild Tea Kombucha and Five 21 Roasters Cold Brew Coffee.

The Drinks

My daughter and I ordered a Latte for $4.75 and it was made with coffee by Coffee Concepts. The coffee was good but my preference would always be serving coffee from some of the local roasters from Calgary.

My wife ordered a Hot Chocolate for $4.00 and it tasted like something was added that tasted really good. When we asked, they add a half pump of Hazelnut syrup. It was really delicious and such a great addition.

The Food

I ordered a Breakfast Sandwich for $7.00 and it is served on a locally sourced fresh kaiser from Hunterhorn Bakery. On my sandwich there was dill hollandaise, bacon, cheddar cheese, egg, tomato and lettuce. The dill hollandaise really added something extra and it was different than other sandwiches. It was so soft and delicious and the combination of flavours with the food was amazing!

My wife ordered the Welcome to the Club for $11.00 and it is a classic clubhouse which included turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and a house made aioli served on fresh Hunterhorn Bakery bread. The ingredients really tasted fresh. It was so delicious.

My daughter ordered the Dilight Bowl for $6.00 and it had everything inside. All the textures of egg, ham, veggies, and the dill hollandaise. It was delicious. She also ordered a cup of the Dill Pickle Soup for $4.00 and said it was delicious, there was such a balance of the dill flavour and it was not overwhelming at all. She said she wished it was even a little more dill pickley.

The Service

Everyone was very friendly and amazing to talk to. At one point the owner, Sarah, came and sat with us and asked if there was anything they could change or adjust. We suggested that she enters in YYC Hot Chocolate Fest and make a Dill Pickle Hot Chocolate. I think that would be amazing. She was very friendly and asked us if we had any other suggestions to email or pop back in.

The Hours

Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Thursday: 7am – 4pm

Friday: 7am – 8pm

Saturday: 10am – 8pm

Sunday: 10am – 4pm

 

Parking

There is street parking and a couple spots out back. Just know if you want to park in the back it is quite tight, for our F150 it was very tight.

 

Last Words

Go visit! The pickles are amazing, the staff are amazing, everything is amazing! I cannot wait to see what Sarah and her team come up with next.

Blue Moose Coffee

Waking up before the sun comes rather easy to me but my wife has never been a morning person. There is something (I am not sure what or maybe I do) about starting your day off early and having the whole day to get things done. In this case getting things done meant driving back home. It’s a 2 province road trip and how many coffee shops can we hit on the way home.

Our first stop of the day was in Hope BC called Blue Moose Coffee.

 

The Interior

From the outside, it doesn’t look too big, but when you walk in, it’s like holy sh@*, look how big this place is!!

The place is nicely decorated and has a lot of cool artwork on the walls.

There is a huge display cased loaded with tasty treats, all homemade. The baked good not only looked amazing but tasted amazing. With the display cases and the coffee bar, this set up had to be 30+ feet long.

Also, in the middle of the shop was group of older retired guys, laughing and enjoying a coffee. Why you ask I would include these guys to the interior section of this review, because I really think these guys are there every day. They seemed to move from their chairs to visiting outside with other older guys. It was rather funny to watch as one guy would I leaving and he would but only made it as far as the curb where he would stand around for another 30 minutes talking with another group.

The Drinks

I ordered a medium latte for $4.35. I could hardly believe the drink I ordered was a medium because the mug was huge and I mean huge or should I say MOOSE size. Their roaster of choice was Ethical Bean.

My wife ordered a medium London Fog Chai latte $3.85 and it was really good.

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The Food

As it was early, we ordered their Traditional Breakfast (bacon and eggs). Lots of food and well worth the $11.99.

As I mentioned above, all food and their baked goods are made in house. After we finished breakfast we went back up and spent another $20.00 on their baked good, everything was really good.

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The Service

All the ladies were very friendly, happy and helpful.

 

The Hours

 They are open every day from 7am to 7pm.

 

Parking

They are located on a main road so there is quite a bit of street parking.

 

Last Words

While we tempted to linger longer, the open road beckoned loudly and after polishing off our drinks, we were back in the truck and on our way. Nonetheless, I shall definitely return to Blue Moose Coffee in Hope the next time we are passing through. Whether you’re in the city limits or passing through, definitely give this place a whirl.

Black Echo Coffee

Black Echo Coffee was recommended to me by our friend Alfred Drinking Coffee. The shop is hidden in an old heritage building located by the Yaletown sky train station. And when I say it’s tucked away inside a narrow walkway, believe me it tucked away. The walkway eventually turns into a clothing store. When I walked in I had to take a second look to make sure I was where I was supposed to be.

This was a great idea for this clothing store. Come pick up some cool clothes and enjoy one of their great beverages at the same time.

 

The Interior

The coffee shop itself is located in a clothing store called Global Atomic Designs. The shop itself has very minimal seating, actually there is only seating for 2 people at the bar.

The Drinks 

Today I ordered the special feature which was a drink named “The Hemingway” $4.50. This is a drink featuring their own butter infused coffee beans with a hint of cinnamon that is put into the porta filter just before they pull the shot. As you drink it, you get this slight hint of cinnamon throughout the whole drink. It was really terrific.

My wife went with the glace (tea on ice) $3.50. it was really refreshing and considering it was really hot that day it made sense.

I did end up buying some of these butter infused beans to try at home. $14.00

The Food

They do have some snacks available and they look quite good.

 

The Service

The service overall was really good. They had 2 people working in there and both were very friendly and helpful.

 

The Hours

Monday to Saturday: 11:00am to 7:00pm

Sunday: 12:00pm to 6:00pm

 

Parking

Street parking only.

 

Last Words

I really liked this place, it was a great little find. Thank you Alfred for the terrific suggestion. If you want to try something a little different, go try these butter infused beans. You won’t be disappointed.

Single V Coffee

In all the years we have been visiting Vancouver, I never get tired of discovering new coffee shops. No matter how many times we go, there is always a new shop or a rejuvenated shop popping up somewhere. It’s a never-ending coffee adventure.

On a particularly seasonal Sunday morning, I had a small entourage in tow with me this day, I needed coffee so off we went driving to Burnaby to check out a new placed Called Single V Coffee.

 

The Interior

The shop itself has very minimal seating, 4 very comfy chairs in the front window, and a couple of other tables.

The have this cool old coffee roaster sitting up against the wall, but from what I was told, it is merely a decorative piece for the shop.

The interior is very modern and clean, my wife really loved some of the accent pieces they have around the shop.

The Drinks

Their coffee roaster of choice is Cat & Cloud out of California. They had 2 different espressos to choose from and 3 different other single origin coffees to choose from.

On this day I went with a Hand Drip $5.00 featuring the Brazilian Fazenda Rainha, mainly because I was intrigued by the tasting notes of Straight Peanut Butter and Jelly. I really didn’t get much in the way of a nutty taste as the barista said I would but the coffee was sweeter than I was expecting and overall was pretty smooth.

My wife ordered the Matcha Latte $5.00. Overall had some nice flavoring.

My son and his girlfriend (partner, or whatever is politically correct) was with us and the both ordered Lattes with the in house made hazelnut/cashew milk $6.00 each. They said the only thing lacking was the flavor of the hazelnut.

All the drinks came in some cool cat and mouse mugs specific to your drink.

The Food

We ordered a couple of items, we ordered the Maple Hazelnut Loaf, this was outstanding, such terrific flavors, I finished and wanted more. So Good.

We also order a Lemon Cranberry Scone, when we ordered we were told that it would be 25 minutes as they were just being cooked. This wasn’t a problem as we got there right after they opened that morning. Once the barista brought it over, it was very warm and had some nice flavoring but could have used a little more lemon but that is my wife’s preference, I tried it and thought it was terrific.

The Service

The service overall was pretty good. The barista was a pretty quiet guy. We really had to poke him to answer some questions.

The Hours

Monday to Friday: 9:00am to 6:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am to 6:00pm

 

Parking

Street parking only, the street is a dead end behind a school.

 

Last Words

Overall I really like this place, atmosphere was cool, coffee was pretty good, the shop is a little off the beaten path and you could drive by and totally miss the place. I would think this place would be a favorite for the teachers from the school across the street.