In the almost-decade since Sprudge’s last Edmonton coffee guide, there has been a boom in the Edmonton coffee scene, both in terms of quantity and quality. The biggest change that I have noticed is that many more Edmonton cafes now roast, sell, and serve coffee with special attention paid to origin, producer, and innovative processing methods. While these changes reflect trends in specialty coffee as a whole, a challenge that Edmonton cafes have faced is making customers care about these aspects of coffee. Each coffee now comes with a story, and one of my favorite parts of serving coffee (I work at Sorellina Brew Bar), is sharing that story with customers.
Recently, I’m beginning to notice that Edmonton customers are beginning to use language that 10 years ago was generally only used within the industry. People will come in and order a pour-over of the latest anaerobic natural, or ask which coffees we serve as espresso. This is largely due to the work of long-time Edmonton roasteries like Iconoclast, Transcend, and Rogue Wave. As a customer at Edmonton’s various third wave cafes, I’m delighted when the barista serving me tells me something interesting about the coffee I’ve just ordered. Whatever style of coffee you enjoy, Edmonton’s coffee ecosystem has a cafe or roastery with the style of coffee you’ll like.
Stopgap Coffee opened in March this year, and it’s one of Edmonton’s true hidden coffee gems. They’re a multi-roaster cafe, and they always have interesting coffees from all over Canada on their rotating pour-over menu, in addition to locally baked pastries. Located in the 110-year-old John T. Ross residence close to the Grandin LRT station, they cater to the downtown commuter crowd who work nearby. Their goal is to be a “temporary means of satisfying your need for coffee hoping to better your day,” and everything from the quality of their service to the decor of their small space reflects this.
The owners, Caleb and Stephanie Kan, have really put a lot of effort into making a charming, relaxing downtown coffee shop, and they love chatting with customers when it isn’t too busy. In addition to the friendly service, the floral wallpaper, pour-over dripper collection behind the bar, and custom-wrapped espresso machine all create an extremely cozy and coffee-focused atmosphere that is sure to delight both the businessperson on their daily commute and the coffee-person looking for a comfortable cafe experience.
Candid Coffee Roasters
Candid is tucked away in a corner of the Wagner industrial area just south of Argyll road, and if they didn’t put a sign out visible from 75th street, you wouldn’t be blamed for missing them. That being said, since they opened in early 2021, they have been a destination for excellent third wave coffee in the city. While currently it’s difficult to get there without a car, Candid is extremely close to Wagner station on the future Valley Line LRT, which will make the cafe more accessible.
Inside, the cafe has a minimalistic but inviting design. They have a rotating selection of interesting coffees available for pour-over and espresso, as well as locally baked donuts and Dutch stroopwafels. Most of the coffees that I have had from Candid tend towards the funky and fruity spectrum of flavors, which is something I personally prefer, but should be noted if that isn’t your preference. Their upstairs loft is a great place for afternoon studying, or for catching the morning light through their large windows.
Sorellina Brew Bar
Sorellina Brew Bar, another cafe that opened this year, took over Roasti Coffee Company’s Whyte Avenue space and renovated it into a daytime-coffee-nightclub, complete with neon lights, bar-style seating, and loud 80’s music. While Sorellina’s been roasting and selling coffee online since the start of the pandemic, with their new space they are focusing on serving coffees with a focus on rare varietals and innovative processing methods.
Like most cafes, every coffee they offer rotates regularly, so there are always new options for espresso and pour-over. Additionally, they have different signature espresso and signature tea drinks each month. They also offer coffee “flights,” offering the same coffee as an espresso, in a milk drink, and as filter coffee, to show how the different brew methods and preparations affect the flavor of each coffee. One of Sorellina’s future goals is to offer dedicated coffee education, including comparative tastings and other events, like the screening the live-stream of the World Barista Championships that they hosted at the end of September and the vintage clothing pop-up they put on in collaboration with local vendor Sick Jacket Vintage.
The Grizzlar opened in 2018, just behind Grant MacEwan University, and their entire concept is built on indie, punk, and DIY culture. Their coffees, teas, and other goods are all purchased as directly as possible from independent producers with the goal of fostering a real connection between producer and consumer, while uplifting both ends of the chain. This is evident from the design of their cafe to the music that they play. The punk music and intentionally sourced coffee makes for a coffee experience that differs from the other third wave cafes in the city.
The Grizzlar’s “No-Wave Espresso Bar” incorporates this indie aesthetic with traditional Italian espresso culture. The owners take pride in the fact that they have a mentor in Italy. All of this makes for an engaging community space frequented by students, music fans, and coffee lovers alike. Currently, their space is a little bit bare because they are moving their roastery to the trendy 124th street area further west of their current location.
While there are a lot of small neighborhood cafes in Edmonton, Square One aims to bridge the gap between neighborhood cafe and third wave specialty coffee. Originally a multi-roaster cafe, they have recently started roasting and serving their own coffee under the name Anecdote Coffee. Their first location in the south of the city has a high ceiling, vintage furniture and decorations, and walls full of locally made art and goods. They also have a large selection of coffee gear and accessories.
Their menu is large, consisting of your regular specialty coffee offerings, but they also have wine, local beer, and house-made pastries and sandwiches. What makes Square One really stand out is how well it blends the world of third wave coffee, with its focus on producer-forward coffees and expressions of terroir and processing, with the comfort of a local neighborhood coffee shop. They have coffee that will satisfy everyone from a normal dark-roast or flavored latte drinker to the coffee professional looking for something fancier.
Frederica Danzinger is a coffee professional and freelance journalist based in Edmonton. This is Frederica Danzinger’s first feature for Sprudge.