For coffee lovers, the days of grabbing a bag of corporate pre-ground coffee from the grocery store have long passed — coffee fanatics are looking for ethically sourced, locally roasted beans with character and deep flavour. Independent coffee roasters are popping up all over Alberta, which means that whether you’re in Medicine Hat or Canmore, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a decent brew. Here are just a few of the great roasters scattered across the province:
An Edmonton institution for more than a decade, Transcend was a pioneer in travelling to coffee bean growing countries like Peru and Costa Rica to select green beans for roasting. Starting up in 2006, Transcend has grown from a café/in-house roastery to mini café empire (there are currently three locations in Edmonton), online retailer and wholesaler, supplying beans to cafés like Monogram in Calgary and Boxcar in Toronto. This fall, Transcend made another big change and closed its original Argyll café to move to a new facility in Ritchie Market.
Roastery: 7724 – 69 Street, Edmonton 1-866-430-9198
It’s not often that you’ll find an Australian-inspired café franchised from a British parent company roasting beans from around the world in a small Canadian mountain town. Canmore’s Rave Coffee is indeed an oddity, but owner Dean Smolicz has been finding success with his uniquely international establishment. While Rave is primarily focused on selling its 17 or so coffees online and through wholesale channels, coffee lovers can visit this lovely café attached to the roasting facility.
113-702 Bow Valley Trail 403-675-7777
Small but mighty, Roast Coffee and Tea specializes in small batch roasts of highgrown and shade-grown Arabica coffee beans from South and Central America, with a bean from Ethiopia also available. Roast operates under a “from roaster to door” delivery concept. The bulk of their business is done online, but customers can pick up beans at The Bragg Creek Oil and Vinegar Market and a few spots in Calgary. Customer service is Roast’s priority, with all beans roasted to order and stamped with a roasting date to ensure maximum freshness.
One of Calgary’s fastest growing coffee empires, Rosso has only been roasting its own beans for four years. Opening its first café in Ramsay in 2007, Rosso now has seven cafés, including one in the National Music Centre’s StudioBell and a brand new location in Tuxedo. Rosso also roasts beans sourced from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Columbia that are divided into two categories: low-acid easy drinking “comfort coffees,” and more exotic, challenging “adventurous coffees.” Coffee lovers can also test out roasts every Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the StudioBell location.
Roastery location: 803 24 Ave SE Calgary, 403-971-1800
A homey café in downtown Red Deer, City Roast has a roaster right in the café, offering a nice ambiance and an ever-present roasting aroma. Everything is done in small batches in a Dietrich Air Roaster and brewed in the café, which also serves up house-made baked goods and daily lunch specials.
4940 Ross Street, Red Deer 403-347-0893
Medicine Hat is rich with phenomenal coffee shops, but Mad Hatter, with its roaster smack-dab in the middle of the café, is a particular gem. Their bean sale process is unique — rather than pre-packaging in bags, Mad Hatter scoops beans on demand from the same bean bins used to make coffee in-house. The cozy café is a bit of a community hub (co-owner Katrina Marshall says the smell of the roaster acts as “bait” to bring people in), and the roaster also supplies beans to a number of restaurants in the Medicine Hat area.
513 3 Street SE, Medicine Hat 403-529-2344
This one’s a biggie — most of us have seen bags of Kicking Horse along the Starbucks and Nabob coffee in major supermarkets. With beans sourced from Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America, all of Kicking Horse’s coffee is 100 per cent organic and fair trade. Hardcore Kicking Horse devotees can travel to Invermere to try a cup of Smart Ass medium roast or 454 Horse Power dark roast right in the roastery’s café.
491 Arrow Road, Invermere, BC 1-888-287-5282