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Calgary coffee crawl



Calgary coffee crawl

Discover Canada’s best coffee scene with a crawl nay run around the city’s best spots for a caffeine fix. Just don’t expect to sleep afterwards.
29 June, 2023

One of the most surprising things about Calgary isn’t the big sky or the bison roaming within minutes of the city limits: it’s the deeply knowledgeable (and, some might say, obsessive) speciality coffee scene.

Since 2007, when engineers Phil and Sebastian opened up their first café with a vow to get more people to drink good coffee, the city has been home to most of Canada’s award-winning brewers, baristas and roasters. The focus is on the coffee terroir, the processing (natural, honey, washed, unwashed, anaerobic) and the customer experience, and a sincere desire to match the drink with the guest. Cafés here are equally committed to local producers, for everything from milk and butter to the preserves schmeared on their sourdough.

Here is a selection of cafés and roasters worth exploring in person – or ordering from online. 

Phil & Sebastian

Phil & Sebastian Bridgeland, a coffee shop in Calgary.

Photo courtesy Phil & Sebastian

Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabyzb, founders of the city’s original third-wave coffee roaster, are perfectionists. 16 years ago, they started putting roasting dates on their coffee, brought in equipment never before seen in the city, and got customers to think about coffee attributes as they would think about wine. It was revolutionary then, and they’re still doing it. Nine current locations span a range of vibes, including the high-ceilinged roastery in the iconic Simmons Building (there are tours). All offer meticulously developed, consistently high-quality coffee prepared by top baristas, with flavours ranging from comforting, warm, popular brews to citrusy, floral and more complex options. Plus: non-alcoholic coffee cocktails and seasonal drinks like Saskatoon berry lemonade. Check out their Hoopla doughnuts, too. [Various locations]

Rosso Coffee Roasters

Rosso Inglewood, a coffee shop in Calgary.

Photo: @rossocoffeeroasters

From their first café in an iron foundry, Rosso understood that quality and commitment needed to span all their processes – including providing welcoming spaces for the communities they serve. Rosso was the first café in North America to use the La Marzocco Linea PB-ARB, they say; another first is their state-of-the-art Sōvda bean sorter, used for green and roasted beans alike. “The coffee culture in Calgary is insane,” says managing partner Jessie Attrell. “Sorting the beans makes the cups just a little better.” Besides the pride in having award-winning baristas on staff, Attrell is equally excited about the all-day breakfast on offer, local pastries from Butter Block, and this summer’s seasonal drink: the pop tart, featuring espresso, oat milk and strawberries. [Various locations]

Monogram Coffee

Coffee at Monogram in Calgary.

Photo: April Willcocks

“We want to positively impact people’s lives through coffee,” says Jeremy Ho, the co-founder of Monogram. A Phil and Sebastian alumnus, Ho, along with Ben Put (Canada’s 2023 Barista Champion) and Justin Eyford, think about everything from the diverse relationships they have with the producers of their environmentally sustainable coffees to ensuring inclusive and equitable spaces for Monogram’s four cafés spread across the city. The downtown outlet at Fifth Avenue Place sports an Honour Bar (pour from the tap and be on your way); Britannia showcases over a dozen espresso varieties, plus the Atlas Program, bringing international roasters – most recently from Colombia, Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands – in person to feature their coffees. Monogram’s Primary Colours Café is right next door for a snack, meal, freshly baked in-house pastries, all-Canadian ingredients and natural wine. [Various locations]

Bono Coffee Roasters

Bono, a coffee shop in Calgary.

Photo courtesy Bono Coffee Roasters

Dawit Wubie travelled to Ethiopia from Calgary in 2012 to join his sister’s coffee roasting business in Addis Ababa. “He was a natural roaster,” says his wife and co-owner Danait Tesfay. “We grew up with coffee and know when it’s ready.” Wubie returned to Calgary intent on sharing Ethiopian coffee with the city’s coffee lovers, and in 2019 the couple began selling their small-batch hand-roasted coffee at the Calgary Farmers Market. Now the proud owners of two cafés (and an industrial roaster), the couple remain close to their roots, working with supplier Metad in Ethiopia to ensure equitable and women-friendly practices at the source. Bono offers a free Jebena Buna (Ethiopian coffee ceremony) on the first Sunday of the month at their new Bridgetown location; there may be popcorn involved, along with pastries baked in-house from family-owned Eclipse. [Various locations]

Paradigm Spark

A coffee flight at Paradigm Spark in Calgary.

Photo courtesy Paradigm Spark

Award-winning barista David Kim started off studying astronomy and space but ended up grounded in the coffee world as a competitive barista and latte artist looking to reduce the gap between competition and day-to-day service. Another Phil and Sebastian alumnus, Kim is motivated by precision, with his roastery offering customers an exceptionally curated experience in his two-year-old café, Paradigm Spark. Regular options include 15 varieties of espresso, flights of either three coffees in very different styles (“so people can discover the impact of a variety on the flavour,” he says) or three different varieties from one producer. Kim regularly serves washed process and two different types of natural process coffee on his roster, making sipping his brews a true learning experience. 

Calgary Heritage Roasting Company

CHRC, a coffee shop in Calgary.

Photo courtesy CHRC

The medium and dark roasts from Calgary Heritage Roasting are more than just something to get you going: former firefighters and founders Jamie Parker and Mike Wenzlawe want to connect you to the Canadian outdoors, too. CHRC plants one tree for every 340g bag sold and has now planted over 100,000 in the forests of British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. Their signature Flash Fuel instant organic coffee, sold in retro-matchbox packaging with individual sachets at their café and online is their way of bringing their coffee to your camping (or travel) experience.

Sought x Found

Coffee at Sought and Found in Calgary.

Photo courtesy Sought x Found

Kitty Chan and Caleb Leung want to make a match for everyone who comes into their sole Crescent Heights location, encouraging patrons to explore the different flavours and characteristics that drive Caleb’s Q-grade roasting profiles. Flights are a big part of the fun here: three coffees one way (entirely different beans done as a pourover), or what they call One Coffee Three Ways, the same bean served as pourover, espresso, and cortado. Leung has mapped out taste profiles of what they’re serving, from the more fruity to more chocolatey, changing the flights every month. Organic milk from local dairy Vital Green and sweet and savoury food options, with in-house jams, salsas and syrups where they “keep playing with flavours” round out the menu.