As 2018 came to an end, we sat back and reflected where we had been this past year and which coffee houses stood out to us. There is still a couple that were on our list from last year that we still visit on a regular basis, Euphoria Café and Societe Coffee Lounge.
When I look back at where we went this past year, we went to a total of 66 different places, located in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and everywhere in between. There are still more out there that we haven’t been to yet, and we are currently putting together our plan for 2019.
This past year I consumed around 600 beverages in some form or another, from lattes, pour overs, cold brew to even having a Poach Pear Hot Chocolate at Bel Café in Kits (my first hot chocolate ever), and a Black Sesame tea latte at the other Bel Café in downtown Vancouver.
In the month of February my wife and my daughter tried 25 different hot chocolates in 28 days for the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest in Calgary that supports Meals on Wheels. There were some pretty wild hot chocolates this past year, we can’t wait to see what the baristas come up with this year.
Also during 2018 we started visiting and blogging about some outstanding independent restaurants. In 2019 we plan on going to more, so stay tuned for that. There are a ton of great places out there just waiting to be found.
These 3 cafés open in Calgary during 2018.
Sought x Found
Kitty and Caleb, two of the nicest people I have met and their dedication to coffee and their customers is second to none. Since day one, they ensure that the beverage you order is perfect.
A few weeks ago, I was informed by a colleague of my daughters about a new coffee shop that opened on Centre Street, just before you head downtown in Crescent Heights. The building was built in 1930. I had said to my wife that it’s always cool when they open up coffee shops in historic old buildings. In Crescent there isn’t too much in the way of a place to get a great cup of coffee. The neighbourhood doesn’t have to wait any longer. They now have Sought & Found.
The pour-over had some excellent flavours. Sought x Found had 3 different blends they were doing pour-overs with. I tried the Nueva Linda, which is a Mexican blend they were featuring. Overall, the coffee was a sweet, smooth medium-bodied brew.
The London Fog was excellent, Sought x Found does something different that we haven’t seen at any other café. First off they don’t use any sweeteners in the drink, they garnish with Cardamom seeds on top, which adds something to the taste. My wife said the best London Fog she has ever had. My daughter had the Matcha and milk, said it was good but a little strong for her liking.
We just recently visited ZCREW Café, Zach and his team have done an outstanding job with ZCREW. We have now been here twice in the past few months and have been blown away with both our drinks as well as their food.
I ordered the large Hand Brew Pour Over – $8.00. It is brewed via the V60. I was extremely impressed with how smooth the drink was and how terrific the flavour was. There was absolutely no bitterness. They do have a small size if you choose for $5.00.
My wife ordered the London Fog – $5.50. This warm cup of tea was very aromatic and was wonderful to smell. Smooth with just the right amount of milk that didn’t overwhelm the tea itself. Fantastic.
My daughter ordered the Vanilla Latte – $5.50 There are many delicious ways to enjoy espresso, but one that couldn’t be more classic is the Vanilla Latte. The vanilla was very subtle in this drink which was really good.
My wife ordered the Make your own Waffle – $8.00, she added whip cream and fresh berries which cost an additional $1.50 per topping. They offer several topping choices.
My daughter had the Puffed Up Benny – $15.50. This isn’t your typical Eggs Benedict, instead of an English muffin, the eggs are perched on top of puff pastry, which adds a whole new dimension to the taste. It is served with a brown butter hollandaise. My daughter had hers with the ham and green apple, or you could choose it with smoked salmon and fresh dill.
I ordered the Korean Fried Chicken and Waffles – $19.00 I have had chicken and waffles at many places but this is my absolute favorite. The chicken was all white meat, and was plated with green onion waffles which I thought might take away from the dish but it actually enhanced the flavors. They serve this dish with gochugaru chili and chicken gravy and some pickled onions. I absolutely loved this dish. I truly can’t wait to go back and have this again.
First thing I would like to say is Ali is the face of Espresso Café, he stops by and meets with customers. Every time we have been there, he stops by and chats for a while. He always wants to make sure things are top class.
Inside the cafe, there is a ton of seating. Lots of regular tables, and a very long high table in the middle of the cafe as you walk in. They have several large purple velvet couches to relax on over by the fireplace. Don’t let the purple velvet fool you, Espresso Café is beautifully decorated, sparing no expense and it shows, from the wallpaper to the lighting. Very tastefully decorated.
The coffee bar, outfitted with a great array of coffee gadgetry, beautiful pendant lamps which provide plenty of light for the baristas to make the nectar of the gods.
The service at Espresso Café was outstanding, staff were helpful and extremely friendly. We had even made a comment to our server and a few minutes later Ali, the manager, came over and addressed our concern. We ended up talking with him for about 30 minutes. The ownership group and managers are committed to making your experience at Espresso Café a memorable one. The comments below are off their website, and based on what I have witnessed, they are walking the walk and talking the talk.
“Our mission will be to make best efforts to create an exclusive place where our customers will be able to socialize in a relaxing and comfortable environment as they enjoy the best brewed coffee or espresso in town.”
Our Town Café
In one of our most recent trips to Vancouver, we had the pleasure of checking out Our Town Café. What a great place!! The staff are amazing, drinks were to die for. I can’t wait to get back to Vancouver to go back to Our Town.
The interior of Our Town is very modern and spacious. Lots of huge windows, which is great for people watching. Lots of seating and yet lots of open space for moving around while you wait for your coffee. The place was immaculate.
At one point in time, I saw Drew the barista out fluffing pillows for the next guests to arrive. Rearranging bags of coffee beans on the shelves to make the display look better. Drew definitely has an eye for detail and takes pride in where he works.
The day we were there, we ordered the Vanilla Latte, a Chai Tea Latte and a Spanish Latte.
The drinks were all delicious, and I just wanted to say the Spanish Latte was the very best I had ever had. Steamed milk was very smooth and heated to the right temperature. I went with the Timbertrain espresso, which is a custom blend for Our Town and was an excellent choice if I do say so.
Olive + Ruby
Olive + Ruby is a little coffee oasis on West Broadway. I think the thing I like the most about this place is how pristine the décor is, white walls, with a planter wall and another wall is a huge mural. The other thing would be the four shot latte I had there. A great way to start your day.
Albeit not the biggest place, it is laid out very well with an entire wall of plants hanging down from the ceiling, and a huge painted feature wall on the other side of the shop.
The shop itself is very bright with lots of lighting and huge windows up front, where you can sit in 2 hanging wicker chairs, very cool. There is also lots of seating at the natural wood tables and one large communal table in the middle of the place that seats about 10 people.
Caramel latte -$5.75. I ordered the large Caramel Latte which was a pretty big drink, the the young lady serving me said, “Just so you know that there is 4 shots in it”, I responded with “that’s ok by me”. I thought the pricing was pretty good. The drink was very smooth, with a slight cocoa flavour mixed with the caramel. Overall the drink was very smooth and was well balanced considering there was 4 shots in it. I enjoyed this drink to the very last drop.
Laurence and Chico
This is the most unique coffee house we went to in 2018. There is nothing normal about this place. Lots of color, very unique seating areas, the bathrooms, what can I say but WOW!! Please take a look at the pictures. The drinks and food were very good as well. A definite must see when you are in Vancouver.
Not sure where I should start??? Wow is where. This space is the most unique and funky spot with the most amazing interior I have ever seen in a café. How do I put it? It’s where Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton come together. These guys’ artwork and fashion designs are way out there. I do however, applaud the imagination.
The cafe was filled with their inspiration – from chairs, tables, walls floors, to even the water closets and the peak-a-boo ceiling.
If you look at the artwork on the walls, you see eye balls everywhere. You see nothing but plant based characters. Totally crazy visuals and with so much attention to detail. I read that you will only see Laurence and Chico drawn in the human form, whereas their families and friends are drawn as animals, plants, fruits and vegetables. Even the mannequins are not normal, they are 7 feet tall and weird looking. (Alien if you will). This just adds to the senses.
As for the food, there was quite a selection of tiny sandwiches, desserts and pastries. All of the food looked really good. On this day we went with the Black Forest Mousse Tart and the Honey Bee Lemon Tart. The tarts were also very good and looked almost too good to eat. If I had one complaint, it would be that it was a little pricey. I think both tarts were about $5.50 each.
When you arrive at this cafe, you don’t expect to see what you do walking in. This cafe is off the main street and it is an old garage turned amazing cafe. This cafe is really big and the use of space is amazing. If you are in Vancouver, I would definitely stop here.
The interior of this place is amazing with high ceilings and very modern décor. We showed up as they were just about to open so they let us roam around and really look at the space. We were expecting what we seen. Huge windows, large skylights and lots of seating. Did I mention the garden. They call it their forest (“Foret” means forest in France). Incredible.
As for the coffee, they offer Timbertrain as their day to day roaster of choice, which is one of my favourite roasters. It’s unfortunate that I can only get Timbertrain at one shop in Calgary. So when I am able to get it, I like to take advantage of it.
After seeing the pictures of their waffles, we decided to grab some breakfast while we were here. Decisions, decisions, what type of waffle to order.
We ordered a couple waffle platters and I ordered the Mango waffle platter, I also ordered a side of potatoes and a side of bacon.
On our last trip to Edmonton we wanted to find a new coffee shop that is very unique. We found it. Driving past you would not think that it is a coffee shop, you would probably think pub with the name Block 1912.
Walking into the coffee shop you would think you were in the past. The wall to your right is all exposed brick and the left has a nook of books. It was amazing. There was not that many people in there when we got there, but as we sat there more and more people started to show up.
After looking at the menu online and then arriving, their menus are different which was kind of sad since there was a drink on the online menu that we wanted to try and they couldn’t make it in store. We eventually decided on Vanilla Lattes and a Hot Chocolate.
They offered so many different food items including sorbet, pies, cheesecakes, soups, and sandwiches. We decided to not get food, but my daughter seen the Oreo Cheesecake and she had to have a piece. It was so delicious.
Coffee with a Cause
Kingdom Coffee Roasters (Calgary)
During the summer my family and I were at the Inglewood Night Market checking things out when we came across a guy selling coffee beans and sampling his coffee. We started talking with Jessie and was moved by his story. Jessie informed us that every Saturday he and a volunteer team of 20 or more head to the Drop In Centre and serve coffee and an assortment of food items. The time we volunteered we made 15 dozen cookies and there were other breakfast good available.
From the drop to the dream
Four Pastors dressed up undercover and spent time with the homeless on the Streets of Calgary. There they meet a man named Jim. He was addicted to heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol. Jim was at the end of his rope, fighting addiction, and contemplating suicide. The four pastors listened to Jim and showed him love. They brought him to a recovery center where Jesus found him and changed his life. He went from being a violent, angry addict to a gentle man who his grandchildren ran to as he walked through the door. Jim passed away in December 2015 from a tragic work place accident.
We believe if a few men can love Jim, then we in turn can love other people who are struggling like he was. We share our coffee with people to hear their story and let them know someone is listening. A portion of every bag sold goes to helping people into recovery and finding them a place to sleep at night. We thank these four men for taking the time to love Jim. Jim was my father and this is his story.
We believe this love can restore families. Like it restored ours.
Timber Coffee (Sylvan Lake, Alberta)
Out in Sylvan Lake there is a coffee house named Timber Coffee Co. The main reason I wanted to check this place out, is that it is a non-profit shop ran by Central Alberta Youth Unlimited. I noticed that they had an indoor skateboard park inside the building along with more great space for kids to hang out and play games.
Outfitted in a one-story building shared with Central Alberta Youth Unlimited, Timber Coffee offers a spacious cafe with plenty of seating. After looking around, it appears the café is furnished by IKEA products. They have a wall of products and swag that are for sale that supports the youth organization. I did buy a nice ball cap, and my daughter bought a sweatshirt. As I made my way back to the washroom, I noticed that they had an indoor skateboard park inside the building along with more great space for kids to hang out and play games.
I tried a vanilla latte and was quite impressed. Their vanilla flavouring is made in house and is quite good. The baristas are talented and their latte art showed their skill. My wife had the London Fog and my daughter had the iced vanilla latte. Both drinks also very good.