T2, Transcend’s first full retail café, will finally open to the public on Friday, April 23. Six months in the making, owner Poul Mark and his team have transformed the former pizza parlour in the Garneau Theatre building into a chic, modern space that also highlights its heritage roots.
The sleek leather banquets, minimalist furnishings and clean bar contrast wonderfully with the exposed brick and reclaimed original floor. I also love the pop of lime green amidst the white walls, perhaps a nod to their roasting business. And of course, the art – classy and a link to the origin of coffee, it’s a visual reminder of Transcend’s status as a third-wave café.
Less than twenty-four hours from opening, Poul was nice enough to take a few minutes out of his busy day to chat about this exciting addition to the Transcend family this afternoon.
Customers should expect the same great coffee that they have come to love from the original Transcend. Three single-origin varieties, brewed on Clover, plus espresso-based drinks, are proudly listed on the magnetic menu behind the bar. Six loose tea varieties from Metropolitan Tea will also be offered, made using Brewts (similar to the Teavana system that I am familiar with), though Poul indicated that this may change as he learns more about tea.
On the counter
I was offered something to drink during my short stay – I gave the barista free rein (my usual drink at Transcend is black coffee) and was handed a cappuccino complete with latte art. I haven’t had a cappuccino in years, mostly because previous drinks have proven bitter and unsatisfying. I am happy to say that Transcend’s version was smooth, creamy, and without any unpleasant aftertaste. I may be a cappuccino convert now.
On the food side of things, Poul made it clear that T2 is not a restaurant – their focus is on coffee. That said, they will have some light fare, sourced locally as much as possible – pastries from Fresh Start Bistro, soup from Soul Soup, and vanilla gelato from Chocolate Exquisite to make affogato. The only item they will be making in-house are liege waffles (a smaller cousin of the Belgian variety), which can be topped with everything from chocolate from Kerstin’s Chocolates to Jam Lady preserves to rosemary whipped cream.
The high-traffic location also provides Transcend with the opportunity to potentially expose a greater amount of people to their high-quality coffee and brewing techniques. Poul indicated that while cuppings will continue at the retail location, T2 will feature more drop-in sessions to teach patrons how to brew better coffee at home – for example, how to utilize a French press.
I realize their focus is and will be on T2 for the months to come, but I couldn’t resist asking Poul what might be in Transcend’s future. He didn’t rule out additional cafes (and is still toying with the idea of a wine and pizza bar) but did comment that they could only expand so much without compromising their standards, as it would become difficult to source high quality coffee at the volume necessary to serve multiple locations.
8708 109 Street
Monday – Wednesday 7am-7pm, Thursday – Saturday 7am-9pm, Sunday 8am-4pm