The Great Canadian Rockies Coffee Tour

Coffee Slogan

Well, my plan was to have this post published an online right away when we got back from our trip.. of course, the best intentions, etc. etc. Anyway, here it finally is!

The International Trumpet Guild annual conference this year was held in Banff, Alberta, Canada. As a certified professional trumpet geek it is my duty and obligation to attend as many of these events as I can, and this was no exception. The conference was fantastic, and many people with more skill and time on their hands than I have written much about it here.

As I was planning our trip out to Banff, I realized that this presented a wonderful opportunity to sample some of the great high-end coffee shops of Alberta. We don’t, as far as I know, have anything like these places in the Detroit area. I’m pretty sure the nearest would be Intelligencia in Chicago, and with gas prices as high as they are, we just can’t get out there very often.

With this in mind, I added an extra day to the beginning of the trip in Calgary, and another day at the end in Edmonton.

Caffe Artigiano StorefrontOur first stop the morning after we arrived in Calgary was Caffe Artigiano, located in downtown Calgary. It took us a little while to find the place, as it’s tucked into an office building, and doesn’t actually face the street its address would lead you to expect. Of course, we found it across the street from Starbucks!

I ordered a straight espresso and Lynne ordered a latte. Both were outstanding. I started to realize with this first order that while the espresso I’ve been making at home has been good, it’s way below what it could potentially be!

Latte ArtSince I knew I’d be blogging about this trip, I took photos of the drinks before we tasted them. When the barista (I’m sorry to say  I never caught his name.. note to self: do not quit trumpet playing and go into journalism) saw this, he immediately set about creating more latte art samples for us. His work was definitely the most impressive we saw on our entire trip. What’s more, he was FAST!

Phil and SebastianOur next stop, after heading back to our hotel and checking out for the trip to Banff, was Phil and Sebastian Coffee Company, located in the Calgary Farmers Market.

Not much by way of atmosphere here, and I wasn’t able to chat with the baristas much because they were so busy. But, the coffee was amazing. Our beverages from Phil and BernsteinMaybe even a little tastier than at Caffe Artigiano, though it was very close. I had a macchiato and Lynne had a latte. Both were delicious, though I’m not a huge fan of lattes, as the milk obscures the coffee taste a bit too much for me.

Sadly, we only had time for one coffee each before heading out for the scenic drive to Banff and the trumpet conference (and five days of rather mediocre coffee).

After the conference and a day of sightseeing traveling from Banff up toward Jasper, then on to Edmonton, we continued our coffee tour. Transcend StorefrontWe got into Edmonton earlier than expected, having left Jasper early due to freezing temperatures and fogged in mountains. This meant we’d be able to visit Transcend. I hadn’t thought we’d make it there, because they close at 5pm on Saturdays and aren’t open on Sundays (we’d planned to arrive in Edmonton late evening on a Saturday), so this was a real bonus. Our visit to transcend turned out to be the highlight of our coffee tour. The staff were so friendly and really took an interest in hearing of our coffee adventure. transcend macchiato and latteAnd the coffee itself was amazingly good. Really. I didn’t know coffee could be that good. In addition to the coffee shop, transcend has a full scale commercial roasting operation located on the premesis. We ended up leaving with some very pleasant memories, and two pounds of espresso beans that they’d just roasted (these beans made some delicious macchiatos, espressos, lattes and cappuccinos after our return home).

Three Bananas MacchiatoOur final stop on the big coffee tour was Three Bananas Cafe. We were pretty tired when we headed here on our way to the airport to head home. We’d stayed out pretty late the night before hearing the Edmonton Symphony with our freind and colleague, recently retired principal trumpeter Alvin Lowrey. We soon perked up, as we partook of some outstanding beverages.

Mark enjoying coffee

Mark Flegg

Dr. Mark Flegg is the Principal Trumpet with the Flint, MI Symphony Orchestra, and the creator of Dr. Flegg's Structured Practice Journal.

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