Going out for a cup of coffee in Calgary can take one from the ordinary to the breathtaking. Calgarians love coffee and they love to get together. Coffee shops have filled the need for alcohol-free recreation by providing unique and warm places to enjoy a great cup of coffee. Only a few years ago, you had to think, "where can we go for coffee?" or settle for mundane cafeteria coffee. No longer!
Calgary has a couple of neighbourhoods, known for their pedestrian traffic, which have also become little clusters of coffee culture.
Kensington is "coffee central" being the hub for SAIT, downtown, and the University. It has small unique coffee shops in the neighbourhood, plus the big chains (in order of their appearance on the scene): Second Cup, Timothy's, and Starbucks. The old favorite of the community is the Roasterie, with its west-facing deck area right on 10th. They roast their own beans, which you can smell for blocks away. In the heart of Kensington is Higher Ground, a great place for unique coffee paraphernalia.The chains offer you consistent coffee and great service, but sometimes at a price.
First Street is popular for its bars, with just a few spots for coffee. The Vicious Circle is popular for its coffees during both day and night. There's also the new Hop in Brew Coffee and Beer House with good atmosphere and tasty treats. For a functional cup of coffee, hit "Mountain Jack's" restaurant in the Holiday Inn on 12th Avenue.
Out of downtown and closer to Mount Royal College is the Marda Loop. Katmandu is one of the first coffee shops in town to deliver an exquisite cup of coffee. Across the street is the see-and-be-seen Kaffa in an old renovated home with seats in all the rooms, and in corners, nooks and crannies. There's also the recent addition of Nellie's Blues and Breakfast House. Bell's Books (and coffee) on 34th Avenue by 14th Street SW is close to an off-leash area and popular with dog owners. There's also Coffee Cats in nearby Killarney on 14th Street at 24th Avenue SW
17th Avenue SW
17th Avenue residents take their coffee seriously. This is because of the bohemian Beltline populace mixing with the Mount Royal residents (who are used to getting it their way). The coffee shops cluster around either 4th Street, or around 8th Street. Around 4th, you'll find a couple of coffee bars and bagel joints. Around 8th, you move from the functional Nellie's to the usual Starbucks, each with enchanting interiors and patios. Beano's has long been a coffe lover's destination, and is popular with the sexy yoga set, and has also inherited the gay clientelle from the recently closed-down Timothy's. crowd. The Good Earth on 11th Street caters to those who want home-baked healthy goodies and meals.
For a regular cup of coffee (with free refills) visit the historical Café 1886, which used to be the sawmill office when Calgary was a frontier town. They also serve amazing brunch of omelettes and scrambled eggs (but closes at 3 pm each day). For a good cup of coffee, along with healthy hearty food, go to the Good Earth inside the market. Also nearby, is Joshua's Tree on Edmonton Trail at Memorial with really toothsome homemade morsels to go with your excellent coffee, straight or fancy.