There’s a lot of reasons to spend some time in a café this month. Looking over that credit card bill, surfing online to decide which diet you should try out for a few weeks before giving up. You know, the typical post-holiday blues stuff.
Here are 8 questions to answer to find out which café around Calgary may have the best table waiting for you.
It’s 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. I’m most likely… a) en route to work. b) already at work, looking forward to my coffee break. c) trying to decide where to spend my morning.
My drink of choice for my morning is.. a) a coffee, but nothing too fancy. b) a good quality black tea c) a well-made espresso
When I come to a café and plan to stay for a while I… a) usually am there on a date. b) want somewhere nice and quiet c) bring my laptop and get my work done!
I believe that flavoured syrups are… a) ok in moderation. b) a tool for making unhappy children happy. c) mostly for people who like weirdly sweet coffee-based drinks.
I like the atmosphere of a café I’m sitting in to be… a) warm and cozy. b) not too muddled with other peoples’ conversations. c) lively and inspiring.
The time I frequent a café most is typically… a) in the morning before work. b) mostly on the weekends. c) during the day.
When I order food from a casual café or coffee shop, I expect… a) restaurant quality. b) some different baking choices, nothing fancy. c) food that can get me through the day if I end up staying there for quite a while.
If I could have one drink every morning for the rest of my life, it would be… a) a London Fog. b) Jasmine green tea. c) a pour-over coffee.
Vendome Café (Mostly As)
Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, this Sunnyside gem has got you covered. Roll out of bed and into Vendome Café to sit back with a cappuccino and people watch as your eggs benedict (one of the city’s best) is crafted in the open kitchen. If your sweet tooth starts the moment the sun rises, then order the whole-wheat blueberry waffles served with vanilla whipped cream. If you’re a N.W. C-train rider, then you should plan a detour to grab a coffee and freshly baked muffin to go.
After work, bring your date to Vendome for light dinner and drinks. Open late on weeknights and Saturdays, Vendome’s small selection of beers, wines and cocktails are the perfect complement to its all-day and evening menus. On a cold night, this café’s tight and cozy quarters make it the perfect place to warm up with a chicken potpie and glass of red wine.
With both top-notch eats all-day long, and the means to make a Caesar on a Sunday morning, Vendome Café melds the worlds of breakfast and late-night cafés into one. Expect a line-up on weekends, but don’t worry — good things come to those who wait.
The Tea Factory (Mostly Bs)
Located in the heart of Mission, The Tea Factory is a sleek yet cozy spot for the modern tea lover. Whether you’re nursing your mug of tea while people-watching through the floor-to-ceiling windows or grabbing a quick cup to go, The Tea Factory will certainly satisfy any tea fix – over 100 tea varieties, from classic greens and blacks, to earthy Pu’Erh and fruity herbal blends, are neatly lined up behind the counter. Patrons are freely invited to ask to smell the leaves before committing to a full cup. A corner of the space is dedicated to all sorts of tea paraphernalia, so you can continue enjoying your favourite brews after hours.
Feeling a little peckish? The Tea Factory serves up Sidewalk Citizen sandwiches, as well as pastries and macarons from Ooh La La Patisserie to satisfy your sweet or savoury tooth. For those who prefer the bean to the leaf (you do know you’re at a place called The Tea Factory, right?), Fratello Coffee is also available. If that’s not enough to show how proud they are of their Calgary roots, The Tea Factory also partners with many other local initiatives, including REAP and YYC Speaks.
Cafe Blanca (Mostly Cs)
If you haven’t heard of Cafe Blanca yet, that’s alright. You have now. The café is half in the business of appealing to coffee nerds and half in the business of making a cool spot for freelancers to set up shop to get their work done. The interior is one of the nicest in the city as far as coffee shops go, with a big light fixture with coffee cups hanging off, white walls adorned with local art and booth seating with bright cushions nestled right up to the window.
The food stays relatively simple here. Sandwiches, soups, salads and small pastries; the usual suspects. Having said that, the true magic of Blanca lies in watching their signature siphon coffees being prepared and then enjoying it. A procedure almost laboratory-like that results in one of the smoothest cups of coffee you’ll ever experience. If extra fancy coffee isn’t your thing, it’s ok, they offer pour-over and regular brewed too, as well as any regular espresso-based bevvy one could want.
The location is a little bit out of the way, just to the east of the Eau Claire mall, but odd locations do often lend themselves to seat availability. I mean, seriously, no one likes to stand in-line at a coffee shop only to not find a place to sit once their drink has been made.
Good Earth (Mix of As, Bs and Cs)
You may not find a trendy crowd casually chatting over a pour-over, single-origin coffee here, but for a solid cup of brewed coffee, espresso-based coffee, or tea latte, this place has them in spades.
The franchise actually started in Calgary in 1991 and has since expanded to various cities in Western Canada, all the way out to Victoria B.C. With many locations spread throughout the city, Good Earth is convenient for just grabbing a quick cup for the drive, and its casual and cozy atmosphere is perfect for catching up on work (regardless of whether you’re between meetings or you’re feeling laid back in a onesie), catching up with friends, or just hanging out with the family (totally kid-friendly).
To go with your morning cup of coffee, hot breakfasts and oatmeal are offered to get your day started on the right foot. For a quick lunch, try the soups, salads and sandwiches. Have a meeting to attend and don’t have time to stick around? Order food for the meeting from the catering menu that features everything from breakfast to lunch, including fruits and desserts.
Photos by Ingrid Kuenzel