5 Great Cafes in Downtown Calgary

My mother tells me that I’m chemically dependent on Caffeine. This is not true, I am dependent upon COFFEE and coffee alone.

I’ve tried alternatives to Coffee (Red Bull, Tea, Apples, etc) and I always end up going back to coffee. The tricky thing, though, is that after a while just regular, plain old coffee doesn’t cut it anymore. I’ve gotten bored with the big chain coffee stores, and I’ve been craving something a little different. So, lately I’ve been seeking out the best Cafes near my hotel, Nuvo Hotel Suites, in an attempt to isolate the best and brightest. I’ve come up with this list, and they’re all pretty good, but some of them do certain things better than others. If anyone out there has some suggestions of places for me to check out next, I’m all ears.

Bumpy’s Cafe 040 – 8th Street SW

Bumpy’s has a friendly, retro feel to it. The interior is plastered in old posters and signs from the 50’s, some of which are available for purchase as fridge magnets. They’ve won a lot of local awards, including best espresso and cleanest cafe. They DO make great espresso, but their regular coffees are pretty good, too. However, the main attraction for me is the fantastic service (they actually go out of their way to learn your name) and the excellent Sandwiches, Panini’s and Soups. Bumpy’s is a great place to stop for lunch while in downtown Calgary.

Kawa Espresso Bar 101 1333 8 Street SW

Pronounced Ka’va (Polish for ‘coffee’), this trendy little place has an ultra modern feel, friendly owners, and seems intent on carrying on the tradition of gourmet coffee that they first started with their flagship cafe Java Jamboree in Cochrane. The Espresso is fantastic, and comes with pretty designs on the top of the foam. I came for the coffee, but I stayed for the breakfast menu. If you need a place to have a quick but delicious breakfast on your way to work in the downtown core, look no further.

The Roasterie 314 10 St NW

As you might guess from its name, The Roasterie in Kensington does its own coffee bean roasting. You can always tell when they’re doing it, because the entire neighborhood becomes saturated with the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. While you can order just a regular cup of coffee, The Roasterie also gives you the option of picking your very own bag of freshly roasted coffee beans. They can even do the roasting right in front of you, guaranteeing that you get the freshest possible coffee. All this, coupled with excellent and knowledgeable service, has elevated this little cafe to near God-like status amongst the coffee elite in the city. The only downside is that all that roasting equipment takes up a lot of space, and it’s not the greatest cafe to go and relax in. However, to get your own coffee or to pick up a cup on the run, this is definitely the place to go.

DeVille Luxury Coffee & Pastries at Art Central 205-100 7 Avenue Sw

There are two things they take seriously here, Art and Coffee. The environment is a somewhat eclectic collection of contemporary art pieces, post modernism evident in the design, and stylish ultra-modern furniture. The coffee is produced from a selection of the finest beans from around the world. They really do pay a lot of attention to what goes into their drinks; even the water is processed through a ‘reverse osmosis re-mineralized water filtration system’. This apparently makes it taste better and, I have to admit, the coffee here does taste great. There’s a palpable focus on presentation that makes the whole experience very uplifting. Also, the galleries and shops in the Art Central building make for some great browsing while you drink your coffee.

The Planet 2312 4 Street SW

The Planet is a bit strange. They don’t have that much in the way of decor, but they can make some very impressive coffee. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first cafe I’ve been to where I’ve seen people actually playing chess. I always see the tables that have the chess boards incorporated into their tops, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone use them. Anyways, in comparison to some of the other cafes on this list The Planet may seem a bit drab, but the service here is top-notch. Not only did they learn my name, and my favorite drink, within three visits but they have demonstrated that they can consistently produce a cappuccino drier than the Sahara desert. They take personalized service very seriously here, and it makes it very gratifying to be a patron.
So far these five are my favorites, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more, better ones out there. I’m always on the lookout for new, delicious coffee. If anyone out there has some suggestions, let me know. Even better, bring me coffee. You can find me most days here, and I take cream, but no sugar please.