The Perfect Match: Credo Coffee and Jacek Chocolate Tasting

It’s great to see when local businesses team up to support one another, whether that’s Dovetail Deli providing shelf space to sell products from Gold Forest Grains and McKernan Food Works, or Remedy Cafe stocking vegan Bloom Cookies at the counter. There is strength in numbers, as awareness is half the battle, and it takes a community to move these independent brands forward.

The tasting organized by Credo Coffee and Jacek Chocolate Couture is another great example of this. When the tickets were released in late summer, I jumped at the excuse to enjoy two of my favourite things. Mack and I had attended a wine and chocolate pairing two years ago at Baseline Wines, and had found it to be a fun and educational experience. And given Mack’s already a fixture at Credo, he didn’t need any additional incentives to come along this time around.

Credo & Jacek Coffee & Chocolate Tasting

Coffee and chocolate

In mid-November, Mack and I bussed over to Credo on 124 Street. We joined a fairly small group, less than two dozen in number, who seemed just as excited for the evening. Chelsea (from Credo) and Jamie (from Jacek) welcomed us and explained that the partnership between the two businesses began in 2010, when Credo became Jacek’s first retail partner. They have collaborated since then, working together to produce The Credo Bar earlier this year, a dark chocolate combined with espresso beans, and then, most recently, to organize a series of tastings.

Credo & Jacek Coffee & Chocolate Tasting

Jamie and Chelsea

The focus of the evening was on “mindful eating” – to deliberately and thoughtfully experience each taste, as opposed to what we’re all guilty of at times – consuming in haste or (for me, with coffee in the mornings) for pure sustenance. For reference, we were provided with copies of the Taster’s Flavour Wheel, which would aid us in articulating the notes detected in coffee and chocolate. Both Chelsea and Jamie emphasized that everyone has a different palate, and as such, can pick up different flavours.

Credo & Jacek Coffee & Chocolate Tasting

Flavour Wheel

We started with tasting three of Credo’s coffees, all roasted by Chicago-based Intelligensia. Intelligensia rotates through several regions of coffee as they become available seasonally, moving from Central America in the spring/summer to Africa in the fall/winter. We started with perhaps my favourite single-origin, the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a light and floral roast. We moved to the Itzamna from Guatemala, a coffee grown on the grounds of a former silver mine. The farmers are committed to organic practices, choosing a labour-intensive path of applying clay to the roots of the plants to regulate their temperature. This coffee was definitely much fuller-bodied, with a toasted flavour. Lastly, we sampled the Ethiopian Kurimi, grown by farmers interested only in planting varieties indigenous to the area. Our fellow tasters noted the Kurimi had hints of lychee and jasmine.

Credo & Jacek Coffee & Chocolate Tasting

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

Onto chocolate, I was happy to learn about Jacek’s new Fabric Collection. Launched on November 13, 2015, it is Jacek’s first foray into bean-to-bar production. In the past, they’ve relied on Valrhona as their chocolate supplier, but now, they have the capacity to sort, roast, winnow and refine cocoa beans at their facility in Sherwood Park. Currently, they are producing three 70% single-origin varieties, all of which we tried that night.

Jacek Fabric Collection

Fabric Collection

The Dominican Republic, refined for seventy two hours, had tropical fruit undertones. I already knew I would enjoy the Venezuela, typically the single-origin I choose, creamy and balanced. The Peru was a surprise – unlike the subtle flavours of the previous two, for us, it had very distinct notes of dried fruit.

The evening cumulated in two pairings. The first was to sample The Credo Bar, made with the Dominican Republic and Black Cat espresso (we were told this iteration was selected from twelve combinations). The flavour profile reminded me of the Mocha Bar that the now-defunct Kerstin’s Chocolates had produced with beans from Transcend Coffee, but instead of the added texture of whole beans, The Credo Bar conches the cocoa and coffee beans together for a smooth finish.

We ended with an unconventional pairing – while I have incidentally enjoyed chocolate alongside tea, it’s not a classic match. Here, we sampled maojian green tea with the single-origin Venezuela, and it worked. Jamie shared that this has been the gateway for staff to consider other unusual pairings, and future tastings may feature more tea than coffee.

Credo & Jacek Coffee & Chocolate Tasting

Coffee cheers!

We enjoyed our first foray into coffee and chocolate tasting, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others. Jacek and Credo have just added another pairing date on January 15, 2016, so it’s something to consider as a gift this holiday season. Tickets are $40 each.

Welcome to the Neighbourhood: District Coffee Co.

In a way, it’s fitting that the newest independent coffee shop to open in downtown Edmonton is called District Coffee Co. For a time, it was looking like the area around 104 Street and Jasper Avenue, with the trifecta of Credo, Transcend and Roast, was growing into the city’s premiere coffee district. Unfortunately, it didn’t last, and in 2013, we lost the latter two downtown. Perhaps with the herald of District Coffee Co., we will one day return to having an number of third wave cafes within walking distance of one another again.

District Coffee Co. is the brainchild of Nate Box, the proprietor of Elm Café and its growing catering arm. But unlike Elm Café’s Oliver storefront, District will be focusing on quality coffee and baked goods.

District Coffee Co.


Mack and I attended a friends and family event this afternoon, organized in anticipation of the café’s Monday, March 3, 2014 opening. The space has received a full makeover, including the installation of a long counter and ovens for the pastry staff.

District Coffee Co.

Assortment of pastries and truffles

The space has a limited number of seats, but I’d imagine the majority of District’s business will be grab and go. They are the first café to serve and offer Phil & Sebastian Coffee in Edmonton (our go-to roaster and café in Calgary), and will offer a small food menu including oatmeal, rice pudding, soup, salad, and pot pie. I sampled one of their addictive cinnamon buns, and satisfied my sweet tooth with their house made salted caramels.

District Coffee Co.

Phil & Sebastian Coffee

We also couldn’t leave without trying their lattes – smooth, creamy and of course, finished with latte art, you won’t be disappointed.

District Coffee Co.

We heart coffee!

We loved the little details too – like the antique brass date counter (set next to the iPad, naturally), and their set of Alberta collector spoons in place of the usual demitasse spoons.

District Coffee Co.District Coffee Co.

It is clear District is a labour of love. They are a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. Congrats to Nate and his team!

District Coffee Co.
#101, 10011 109 Street
(780) 705-7788
Monday-Friday 7am-5pm

Portland: Morning Meals

Most mornings in Portland, Mack and I did not indulge in full meals. This isn’t unlike our usual breakfasts while at home – we opt to have more substantial plates at lunch and dinner. This allowed us to explore some of Portland’s best coffee houses, many which were located within walking distance of our hotel. Of course, on the weekend, we did also manage to fit in a few brunches!

Public Domain

Just down the street from our hotel, Public Domain was our first coffee stop. Sleek and modern, I really liked their open concept that emphasized the coffee bar. Seating wasn’t abundant, but it seemed like most took their drinks elsewhere.

Portland September 2012


Public Domain roasts their own coffee, which we enjoyed alongside a delicious cheddar bacon scone. We also took home a bag of their coffee for at-home consumption – always a great takeaway souvenir!

Portland September 2012

Counter seating


Barista’s downtown location was even smaller than Public Domain. And instead of offering their own line of coffee, they served several varieties roasted by different companies, the majority also based in Portland, including Stumptown, Counter Culture and Heart.

Portland September 2012


Barista only offered espresso and brewed coffee, and of the latter, one could choose the preparation method: French press, pour over or iced, with a different bean used in each (talk about attention to detail!). We ended up with a pour-over sourced from Kenya, roasted by San Francisco-based Sight Glass.

Portland September 2012


Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Of all the coffee houses, we expected the most from Stumptown. It is easily the most well-known, and many of Portland’s restaurants serve their line of roasted coffees. We ended up in their Old Town location towards the end of our trip.

I haven’t seen Portlandia, but I would be shocked if the show didn’t poke fun at the masses of Mac users who set up for the day in Stumptown. It was a bit comical that the first image we were confronted with was a single row of thirty-somethings all typing away.

Portland September 2012


The cafe is equipped with a great up-to-date collection of specialty magazines, with multiple copies of each. We spent a bit of time unwinding there with our iced coffees (brewed to perfection), but we have to mention that the shop could have used a bit more care. Dust bunnies were rampant, and their bathrooms were in desperate need of attention. Given their reputation, our experience as a whole didn’t live up to expectations – it never is just about the food alone!

Portland September 2012

Window seat

Mother’s Bistro

Mother’s Bistro seemed to be a Portland institution. With a cookbook of recipes, and nary a time of day where they aren’t packed, it seemed like a good brunch choice.

Though the dining room seemed to be full to the brim, we were surprisingly seated within five minutes. I loved the chandelier light fixtures and the elegantly framed mirrors that added a touch of class to the room. But it wasn’t all glamour – the message on the back of the mugs reminded us to “call your mother”.

Portland September 2012


That said, my lasting memory of Mother’s isn’t of the decor or the service (which was friendly, but brisk) – instead, I have stomach pains when I think back to the portion sizes. Each plate, priced at under $10, could have easily fed two people! My apple-sausage scramble and Mack’s stuffed fritatta utterly defeated each of us.

Portland September 2012

Apple-sausage scramble

Portland September 2012

Stuffed frittata (the size of a dinner plate!)

Bijou Cafe

On our last day in Portland, we elected to stick close to our hotel, to make sure we wouldn’t be late for our departure. Bijou Cafe fit the bill, located only a few blocks away from our hotel, and had a reputation for a solid brunch featuring locally-sourced ingredients.

The interior was pretty basic, but was without pretention. And after the charming but cramped quarters of Mother’s, we appreciated the room to breathe.

Portland September 2012


My French toast was a bit too eggy for my taste, and after a bite of Mack’s chanterelle and gruyere-laced omlette, we knew his plate won the dish wars at our table.

Portland September 2012

French toast

Portland September 2012

Seasonal omelette (we loved that baguette was a bread option)

Service was personable and friendly, and the coffee refills kept coming. For a chill brunch, I would have no qualms recommending Bijou Cafe to visitors.

Now Open: Roast Coffeehouse and Wine Bar

I pass the Mercer Warehouse twice every day on my way to and from work, so I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to the opening of Roast Coffeehouse and Wine Bar (102, 10359 104 Street). Given the Starbucks at Quest on 105 Street closed a few months back, Roast is now the closest coffee shop to my office, handy for those days where an extra pick-me-up is needed. Having announced that their soft opening would be taking place today, Mack and I headed to Roast this morning before work.


Roast Coffeehouse

Mack loved the “R” sign marking the entrance, and the patio furniture that takes advantage of the Promenade’s wide walkways. He would have preferred that the benches faced the sidewalk instead of the street, but it is still better than no outdoor furniture!


Outdoor seating

No question, the space has been fully renovated. Mack had a chance to visit the space in January, and it looked nothing like it does now. The brick and floors had been painted over, and the strained, fluorescent lighting did nothing to highlight the character of the historical building.

Roast Coffee


Until now: the owners of Roast did a great job – I loved the exposed brick and re-varnished floors, and thought the pressed tin was a nice touch as well. The space actually reminded me a lot of the newest location of Dark Horse in Toronto, right down to the chalkboard menu and the fact that they also had to open without an espresso machine.



The interior was warm and inviting, with a lot of different seating options, including booths that would suit large groups very well, and even a secluded community table.




Community table

Mack and I chose to have a brewed coffee each ($2.50 for a small). Roast serves California-based Verve Coffee, and had a good selection of their beans for sale. And though they didn’t have their espresso capabilities up and running yet, I love their fun take on lattes, with both a crème brule and maple bacon latte on the menu. You can take a look at their full drink menu here.


For the home brewing crowd

For food, Roast serves up pastries and desserts from The Good Oven (run by the people who had started Fresh Start Bistro, who then shifted their focus to catering) and lunch items from The Chopped Leaf. I have to say I’m a little disappointed that Roast didn’t choose to make any food in-house – given their competition is Credo (who bakes their own treats fresh daily) and Transcend (who has a rockin’ South American menu).



We didn’t get a full picture of their wine and evening menu, but it’ll be interesting to see how this evolves. The cafe + wine bar concept hasn’t taken off in Edmonton, and with Mercer Tavern next door, would those looking for a post-work drink choose Roast over the neighbouring bar? That said, if they create the right atmosphere (and it looks like they’ll be bringing in some live musicians at some point), perhaps they can cultivate that aspect of their business after all.



I’m excited that there is finally a business to anchor the other end of 104 Street, and look forward to coming back again! And with the Tavern opening up this weekend, it really is a great time to visit the Promenade.

Roast Coffeehouse and Wine Bar
102, 10359 104 Street
(780) 669-0221

Downtown Expansion: Transcend Jasper Avenue

This guest post was written by Mack, an Edmonton-based geek who fancies himself a part-time foodie. You can find him online at his blog, and on Twitter.

Tonight Transcend Coffee held a friends and family soft launch at its new downtown location at 10349 Jasper Avenue. I stopped by to check out the new space, formerly occupied by Axis Café. The space is largely the same, though it did receive a new paint job and some Transcend-specific touches such as the lovely artwork. The new fireplace on the second level is a welcome addition too.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Entering the café.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Looking down from the second level.

The new location offers a similar drinks menu to other Transcend locations, but will also feature “a small selection of remarkable beer and wine” beginning this spring. Transcend Jasper will also introduce an expanded hot food menu at that time, featuring made-in-house South American street food created by Chad Moss, who is a Red Seal chef.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
The boardroom upstairs.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
The basement space.

The boardroom that was available at Axis remains open for rental at Transcend after receiving some upgrades. It contains a large board table, a high-resolution projector and screen, and flip chart paper and other resources. Rates start at $20 per hour or $100 for the day. Transcend Jasper also has a great space in the basement – they are exploring various concepts for it, including a live-music program. Stay tuned for details on that.

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Yum, Transcend-roasted coffee beans!

Transcend Jasper Avenue
Putting up the sign outside!

The crew pictured above was putting up the sign as a I left the space tonight around 6pm, so like all good openings Transcend Jasper was down to the wire! It’ll be open for regular business starting tomorrow morning at 7:30am. You can follow the new location on Twitter at @TranscendJasper. You can see a few more photos of the space here.

Join me in welcoming Transcend to Edmonton’s new coffee district!

Recap: Weekend in Calgary

At the end of July, Mack and I decided to escape to Calgary for a weekend, eluding the boxes and avoiding the general chaos that surrounded us after the move. I had good intentions to write a series of posts about all of our epicurious encounters down south, but as you can guess, I put it off. I figured – better late than never, and better something than nothing at all.

Belmont Diner

It’s no secret that Mack and I adore diners. so it wasn’t a surprise that our first stop ended up being a diner.

Belmont Diner in Marda Loop had been on my hit list for some time (operated by the same people behind Galaxie Diner and Myhre’s Deli), and though our driving schedule meant we would reach our destination towards the end of their operating hours on Saturday, their all-day breakfast menu meant we wouldn’t be penalized for our late arrival.

Belmont Diner

Mack loves his Coke

Though we had a decent experience at Belmont, I think our visit to Galaxie Diner coloured our introduction to Belmont. The layout and menu were strikingly similar to Galaxie, and unfortunately, my burger ($10.75) was dry. Thankfully, the bottomless(!) hash browns saved the plate – though they don’t look like much, the slightly crispy potatoes were nicely seasoned with an interesting blend of spices.

Belmont Diner


Mack had better luck with his hearty “everything” Calgary sandwich ($12.25), which also included a side of bottomless hash browns.

Belmont Diner

Calgary sandwich

While we would eat at Belmont again if we were in the area, based on this meal, we wouldn’t go out of our way to return.

Phil & Sebastian Coffee Company

After lunch, we wandered into the nearby location of Phil & Sebastian. This storefront opened in late November 2009, and based on the excitement exuded by the food folks down south, it was evident Phil & Sebastian has long outgrown their original booth at the Calgary Farmers’ Market.

Phil & Sebastian Coffee

I love their packaging

There is no question is it an absolutely stunning space. With a high ceiling, a clean white and black colour scheme and interesting light fixtures (a huge, Pixar-like arm lamp near the door, and of-the-moment Edison bulbs), I wouldn’t think twice about relocating my mobile office here.

Phil & Sebastian Coffee

Phil & Sebastian at the Marda Loop


It’s hard not to salivate when reading about a 35 pound poutine, made with 3kg of cheese curds and fries simmered in duck fat. So although the family-style serving wouldn’t be in the cards for us, I knew a visit to Charcut would be, after reading Julie Van Rosendaal’s post.

Charcut opened in February in the swanky new Hotel Le Germain downtown, the name reflecting the “custom-built rotisserie and charbroiler” (char) and “featured vintage-style slicer and hand-crafted charcuterie eating bar” (cut). We would have loved to sit at the back of the restaurant, facing the kitchen (and the charcuterie cooler, complete with two pig’s heads), but they were unfortunately full that night.


How cute is the porcine paper clip?

I wasn’t too fond of the “ranch” touches in what could have been a sleek dining room – a cow mural, wooden beams, and wagon wheel light fixtures featuring mason jars – but I suppose they reminded diners of the rustic nature of the food.



The menu isn’t extensive, but changes every day (old menus are recycled into dish liners), and prominently highlights local producers. We decided to share three dishes, which although seemed doable at the time, filled us up in no time due to their sinfully rich nature.


Amuse bouche of turkey terrine and peaches atop a brioche crostini

The lamb croquettes ($15) were delightfully crispy, and were lovingly smoked, which enhanced the flavour of the meat.


Lamb croquettes

The share burger, “Charcut style”, consisted of a roasted garlic sausage patty, cheese curds, and a fried egg ($2.5/oz, minimum 9oz). It was interesting to try a sausage patty, dense and fatty as it was, but it was overcooked, making it even more difficult to eat. The brioche and egg, on the other hand, were perfect, the latter fried to a wobbly, yolk-bursting precipice.


Share burger

And the poutine ($8)? Heaven. The truffle oil assaulted our senses first, and gave way to fries that had been simmered in duck fat and drenched in a generous amount of cheese curds. The gravy was a bit thin (Mack prefers it thicker), but truly, it’s a dish to fight over.


Duck fat poutine

The trend of throwback desserts caught us, as it did at Farm. We couldn’t pass up their animal crackers, accompanied by a garden rhubarb and summer berry crème brulee ($8). The shortbread cookies didn’t taste quite like those boxed crackers of our youth, but went really well with the warmed custard (it was actually warmed through! a pet peeve of mine with restaurant crème brulees). Mack especially liked the softened fruit, which was distributed evenly throughout the custard.


Crème brulee

It’s worth noting that the kitchen was efficient, and that service was attentive but respectful. But regardless, need I say it again? Duck fat poutine.

Fiestaval 2010

On our way home from dinner, we stumbled upon Fiestaval, Calgary’s Latin Festival. Olympic Plaza was filled with food and product vendors, and we were able to catch the tail end of their last performer of the day.


Olympic Plaza

Between the crowd and the energy (people were dancing in the square), it’s hard to deny that Calgary has their own festival culture.


These pink gophers still crack me up

Over Easy Breakfast

Located just down from Diner Deluxe (one of my Calgary favourites), Over Easy has become a popular breakfast destination.

I loved the chalkboard ceiling just bursting with colour, and the equally fun “We Got Huevos” t-shirts (similar to the cheeky “Line Tamer” shirts at Diner Deluxe). Our server was exceptionally friendly and ensured we were never left wanting for coffee, and was notably excited when we told her it was our first visit to the restaurant.

Overeasy Breafkast


Unlike Belmont Diner, Over Easy has an extensive menu, and one I could see locals returning to many times without compromising variety. And though they got my pancake order wrong, it was a happy mistake – the waffle was sweet, crispy and finished with icing sugar and berries, was like having dessert for breakfast.

Overeasy Breafkast

Fruit-topped waffle

Mack’s blue plate special (actually served on a blue plate), featured a nice amount of fruit, and wonderfully crispy bacon.

Overeasy Breafkast

Blue plate special

We’ll be back!

Sun & Salsa Festival 2010

We ended our weekend at the Kensington Sun & Salsa Festival, which I had added to our itinerary once seeing it on Andree’s blog.

Our introduction to the festival wasn’t pleasant – we couldn’t find parking in the neighbourhood for the life of us. Driving around in circles, it seemed to us that the entire city of Calgary had decided to drive to the event that day (our original plan was to take the C-Train there, but as it was our last stop, it didn’t make too much sense to backtrack on transit). We eventually secured a spot, and wandered into the grounds to see what all the fuss about.

Kensington Sun & Salsa Festival


It was actually pretty cool – patrons were invited to sample over 40 salsas put together by local businesses and organizations, with proceeds from the taco chips going to charity.

Kensington Sun & Salsa Festival

The salsa from Naked Leaf was more chutney than salsa – a jasmine-infused peach salsa – but it was creative an unique

Though many stations were out by the time we made our rounds, our favourite was the salsa by Higher Ground – mild, tomato-based, but tasty.

The streets were closed to cars, and were packed shoulder to shoulder with people. A haphazard mix of booths lined the streets (with no method to the madness – non-profits placed at random in between municipal election candidates and private businesses), as well as outdoor food vendors. Though I think the food could have taken some attention away from the salsa (especially when the salsa stations weren’t clearly marked), the salsa didn’t seem to be the focus of the event anyway – instead, the intention was to bring people into the neighbourhood and to promote the area merchants.

Kensington Sun & Salsa Festival

Sun & Salsa

It was a fun event, and really, such a great idea – kudos to the organizers!

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Elm Cafe

Elm Cafe has been a long time coming for Nate Box. After an exhaustive search for a storefront, he was happy to announce in September 2009 that he had landed the space formerly occupied by Hulbert’s in McKernan/Belgravia. It would have allowed him to serve three square meals, in a neighbourhood bereft of good dining options, with ample patio seating. Unfortunately, negotiations fell through, and he was forced to start from scratch, again.

Nine months later, Elm Cafe finally found a home, and after a few weeks of renovations, transformed from an underutilized sandwich shop to a beautiful, modern space. Though it’s barely larger than a generous walk-in closet, it more than makes up for its small size with charm.

Elm Cafe

As the website states, Elm offers “take-away craft sandwiches, light fare, premium coffee and beverages.” With two seats along the bar and (hopefully) some outdoor seating later in the summer, it’s not hard to see that Elm focuses on grab-and-go food (menu here). By the time I reached Elm late in the afternoon, they were all sold out of sandwiches (by 1pm, apparently!), but you can take a look at Kelly’s blog for what to expect. Follow their Twitter account to find out what the daily sandwich and soup will be.

Bar seating

On the coffee front, Nate decided to go with 49th Parallel, a Vancouver-based roaster. He had travelled to #yvr in late May to learn more about the coffees, and for the first two days of Elm’s opening, has the privilege of hosting Sammy Piccolo, who placed second at the 2009 World Barista Championships.

Nate and Sammy

I was heading to Indulgence later that night, so ordered a straight brewed coffee for a light afternoon pick-me-up ($2.25). In all my excitement, I forgot to ask the origin of the beans, but I am happy to report that the coffee was full-bodied and smooth.

49th Parallel beans

Many congratulatory bouquets were on display (including a clever morel bouquet from Thea and Chad), and I think Nate deserves all the accolades for powering through and making Elm happen, even with all of the setbacks. With his passion for good food and community, I think Nate is on to something great.

More(l) well wishes

I can’t wait to go back and try the food.

Elm Cafe
#100, 10140 117 Street
(780) 756-3356
Monday-Wednesday 7am-5pm, Thursday-Friday 7am-7pm, Saturday 8am-4pm, closed Sundays

Transcend’s New Frontier: T2

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.

Magnetic menu

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.

With Three Bananas, Axis Cafe, Credo and now T2, the specialty coffee scene is looking better and better in Edmonton. Congrats to Poul and the rest of the Transcend staff on the beautiful cafe!

8708 109 Street
(780) 756-8882
Monday – Wednesday 7am-7pm, Thursday – Saturday 7am-9pm, Sunday 8am-4pm

The Cooking Chronicles: Cold-Brewed Coffee

I made a mental note to try the cold-brewing method to make iced coffee as mentioned on Julie van Rosendaal’s blog this summer. Leave it to me to put it off until mid-September.

I loved Julie’s suggestion of using a French press to do the grunt work, eliminating the need to strain and filter the coffee separately. So after grinding some Transcend coffee we had in the house, I combined 2/3 of a cup of ground beans with 3 cups of water, and let the mixture sit in the press on the counter overnight. In the morning, I refrigerated the mixture after pressing the silt down – nothing to it.

Julie recommends a 1:1 diluting of the concentrated mixture with water or milk, or to simply pour it over ice. We went with the latter suggestion. However, having enjoyed more than our share of heavily-sweetened Starbucks iced coffees, both Mack and I have ended up with a need for sugar to override the bitterness. So I quickly made up a batch of simple syrup, and used a spoonful or two to help balance the iced joe.

Iced coffees in our drinking jars

The result was a great patio drink – not too strong, but not watered down. And best of all – so easy to make!

Day 5 in DC: Tourist Mashup

The muggiest day to greet us in DC was also our tardiest start, indicative of our exhaustion the night before. We finally left the hotel at 10:30, and determined to try an alternative to Starbucks, sought out the nearest location of Caribou Coffee.

With their wooden beams, hardwood floor and stone fireplace, it would have been easy to mistake the interior of Caribou Coffee with that of a Montana’s. There was no line-up (unlike our hotel’s neighbourhood Starbucks), and I liked the cheeky statements printed on the napkins. The coffee itself wasn’t bad, though drowned in milk as it were I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell otherwise.


A cabin or a coffee shop?

Our first planned stop for the day was the last of the major memorials we hadn’t yet seen – the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. At some point after we departed the Metro we must have made a wrong turn, because we ended up not at the memorial, but at a waterfront lined with seafood stalls.

Seafood market

Crabs galore!

The aromas drifting from the area weren’t exactly pleasant – seafood never fares well in open air on hot days. There was some agreeable cookery going on though – with “fresh” (trucked in) fish, crabs, and other shellfish being offered alongside lemonade and ice cream. We were able to sample some fried fish, which satisfied our seafood curiosity.

A man among fish

Across and under a bridge, we finally reached the Jefferson Memorial. Away from the Mall attractions, it was relatively quiet, and free from large school groups. Situated on the Tidal Basin as well, this memorial was in the perfect spot to capture breezes that came off the water. I’m sure cherry blossoms would add a touch of magic to the park, but even without them, the tree-lined area was lovely, and brought me back to the West Wing episode of “Mandatory Minimums” where Toby and Andie take their walk around the basin.

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson, the primary author of the Constitution, was quite scholarly, making the Greek columns very appropriate for his memorial. Though the statues of Lincoln and Jefferson are apparently the same height, the Lincoln Memorial still trumps all others in grandness and impact.

Jefferson Memorial

We walked across the basin to spend the best $10 we had all trip – on paddleboats! The $10 secured a rental for an hour, which was more than enough time to explore the reachable corners of Tidal Basin, and to access one of the best frontal views of the Jefferson Memorial. And after rushing from place to place for the last few days, it was nice to kick back and relax out on the water.

Jefferson Memorial from Tidal Basin

Mack on the Berry (photo #2 – yes, even on the water)

Marines and POTUS helicopters flew overhead in the direction of the White House a few times, as did numerous domestic flights in and out of Reagan National Airport. The airspace in DC was undoubtedly always busy.

POTUS Helicopter overhead

Off the water, we took a quick ice cream break at one of the strategically-placed tourist-oriented confectionary traps, and hopped on the Metro to get to our lunch destination – Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street.

Our piecemeal day continued with a return to our hotel to change (a nod to our most formal dining experience in DC), then hoofed it to Georgetown. It was absolutely boiling at this point, so our trek was most uncomfortable for Mack, to say the least, dressed in a long-sleeve dress shirt. He was a trooper though, as we made the most of our time by shopping in the district, where I picked up some gifts at the lovely gift and stationary store Paper Source and elsewhere.

I heart Georgetown

A picturesque garden in the middle of Georgetown

A Georgetown shopping centre

We made sure to stop at Dean and Deluca, which in Georgetown was not only a café, but a full-on specialty grocer. We overturned many products to find astronomical prices, and contented ourselves with two rounded D & D mugs, which we had admired from afar in New York.

Dean & Deluca

Not a wine cellar, but hall

Bulk candies are always more expensive when stored in glass jars

On Bruce’s recommendation, we also visited Georgetown Cupcake, where the line-up was out the door. Granted, the tiny storefront could only contain so many, but given the number of large boxes waiting to be picked up, we were sure that walk-in customers formed only a tiny branch of their business.

They had a dozen varieties to choose from, all temptingly displayed on tiered stands at the order counter. After patrons put in their order, they had to pass the funds across to the staff person on the other side of the tiers, creating an awkward exchange for both parties (and a potentially messy one, even though a sign read that ‘cakes on display were indeed for display only).


At $2.75 a pop, the cupcakes seemed to be on par or slightly more expensive than the Canadian bakeries I have visited. I decided on a fairly classic flavour – vanilla² – while Mack opted for something a little less run-of-the-mill – carrot cake.

On the corner of Georgetown and cupcake

The vanilla bean cake was pretty tasty – flavoured and flecked nicely, but with sweetness in check. I was saddened to find that the icing was made with cream cheese, however, as I am not a fan. On the other hand, the cream cheese base did mean that the icing didn’t melt as fast as its, say, buttercream counterparts, and as Mack adores cream cheese, he unsurprisingly enjoyed his treat more than I did.

We ended the night at dinner – an upscale restaurant called Hook.

You can read Mack’s Day 5 recap here.