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Edmonton's Best Independent Coffee Shops

by Miranda Post

Edmonton is rich in coffee shops, from the every-man chains (Tim Hortons, Second Cup) to the tiny, indie variety (a la Elm café and Farrow) and everything in between. Over the last year, new coffee shops have popped up in YEG like a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s on movie night. The new generation of sleek, quirky java haunts sprinkled throughout central Edmonton complement our cadre of veteran cafes. This round up is meant to peek into Edmonton’s sovereign coffee spots and offer a quick guide for our city’s coffee culture.

Remedy Cafe - various locations
Remedy Cafe is one part Indian and Pakistani restaurant, one part coffee bar. If the hit TV show ‘Friends’ was filmed in Edmonton, the cast would gather daily at the Jasper Avenue location. With five Remedy Cafes throughout the city, they are one of the oldest and most-loved coffee shop families in Edmonton. Their legendary house-made chai pairs well with either a sabhji masala or butter chicken wrap.

Café Leva - 11053-86 Ave
Nestled in the heart of the University district, Leva sits on an unassuming corner amongst heritage houses. Inside, you’re transported to the cool coffee domains of New York, Milan or Amsterdam with Leva’s simplistic, pale interior and communal tables. Though coffee is their bread and butter, Leva also serves food for breakfast, lunch and late night meals. Grab a java with a friend after work, then transition to pizza and a glass of wine.

Transcend - various locations
Transcend opened its doors in 2006 and has been a respected destination for serious coffee drinkers ever since. They run coffee tasting courses, roasting workshops or mini-lessons in espresso-ology. Transcend staff are well trained and passionate, often reciting the complicated alchemy of handcrafted coffees. Take the Flat White for example. It’s a popular drink originating in Australia/New Zealand where milk isn’t heated as much as in a latte, making it a bit more thin, yet still sweet.

Wild Earth Bakery - 8902-99 Street
Wild Earth feels like your hippie aunt’s living room (in a good way!). The selection of food is vast and seating is ample. Wild Earth even has a little collection of kids toys and books for coffee-addict offspring. Feeling decadent? Try a slice of one of the many cheesecakes paired with Chocolate Chai.

Credo - Two locations - 104 Street or 124 Street
Credo is a set of sibling coffee shops well known for their quality coffee (the 104 Street location is often lined up). The younger offspring, Credo on 124 Street, sits in the subterranean level of the newly redone Limelight building. Descend the stairs and you instantly smell Intelligentsia coffee. Each cup of Credo coffee is filled with feel-good flavour. Their coffee is direct trade, ensuring their growers are paid 25% higher rates than fair trade prices.

Iconoclast - 11807-105 Ave
Tucked between Oliver Square and Edmonton’s oldest cemetery, Iconoclast is as much a gathering place for game lovers as it is for coffee drinkers. The warehouse space was previously a lighting store and before that the building housed a coffin manufacturer. The coffee bar made of rough-hewn palette wood is perched in the middle of the shop acting as the steaming, caffeinated heart of the echoey space. There are couches, a ping pong table and they host monthly board games nights. Coffee is roasted in-house in small batches. Grab a homemade cookie and an inky black Americano to fuel your competitive conquests.

District Coffee Co, Burrow, Elm Café and Little Brick
This quartet of cafes was started by local small-space hospitality visionary Nate Box. District and Elm Cafe serve the early morning and lunch crowds (Elm is famous for their creative sandwiches). Little Brick brought history back to life in an old brick house tucked away in Riverdale. Burrow caters to the commuter crowd in Central LRT station. While it doesn’t have seating, Burrow does offer grab’n’go snack and lunch fare as well as Four Barrel coffee.

Coffee Bureau - 10505 Jasper Avenue
Jasper Avenue’s Coffee Bureau features all kinds of shine: from the 1950s Italian brass chandelier and fancy customized Izzo espresso machine to the bright smiles of husband and wife owners. Coffee Bureau serves locally roasted Ace Coffee and Steven Smith teas alongside freshly baked cookies, muffins, croissants and gluten-free nibbles. Meet inside for a quick one-on-one power visit or watch the world go by outside on their sidewalk benches.

Farrow - 8422-109 Street
Farrow customers like their caffeine with a sandwich, thank you very much. Owned by the same folks as Three Boars next door, Farrow is as popular for their sandwiches as their mugs of Stumptown and Bows & Arrows coffee. Take a seat on the picnic benches outside and watch as university students make their way to and from campus.

Lock Stock Coffee - 10534 Jasper Avenue
If you looked twice, you might think Lock Stock Coffee is a different kind of watering hole. Its exposed brick walls, high top seating and dark wood accents match its brother business, Red Star Pub. But the shiny espresso machines in the back of the narrow, slightly dim space reveal otherwise. All food is made in-house in Red Star’s kitchen. Need a morning kickstart? Grab a bacon, rosemary, cheddar muffin washed down by a Gibraltor—a double shot of espresso with steamed milk served in a short tumbler. Wakey, wakey!

Our friend from, Phil Wilson, walked us through his favourite Edmonton coffee shop, Little Brick, in one of our You Think You Know Edmonton? videos:

Edmontonians love their coffee, this much is clear when you walk/drive/bike by any local coffee establishment. As neighbourhoods in our city grow and rejuvenate, coffee shops continue to flourish in their wake. Whether you’re meeting a friend over pain au chocolates at Transcend, brokering a new business plan with colleagues over chai at Remedy, or sitting quietly to read a book and sip an Americano at Lock Stock, Edmonton has plenty of fine coffee houses to choose from.