top of page

Exploring Edmonton's Top Coffee shops through the Concept of Coffee Waves

This isn't your typical list of the top coffee shops in Edmonton (but if you're seeking recommendations, check out the end). Here, I'll delve into the concept of 'coffee waves' and provide examples you can find in this Frozen Tundra!


The term Coffee Waves was invented by a great woman, Trish Rothgeb. I see these waves as different ways of conceiving coffee, and different perspectives, although they were born at different times, they currently overlap with each other.


First Wave: The Commodity Era


In the mid-20th century, coffee was seen as a commodity—a mundane product consumed mostly for its caffeine boost. Quality and origin didn't matter much. Coffee was readily available in small stores, gas stations, or brewed at home for affordability.


This notion persists in supermarkets and commercial brands. For instance, Superstore recently gave away President's Choice coffee—a dark roast with little flavor, but free! A quintessential first wave representation.

Bold with notes of cocoa. Classic flavor profile


Second Wave: Give me the double/double


The second wave (1960s to 1990s) brought forth coffee. Here we thank the giant Starbucks, and well, in Canada we also have to give a big round of applause to Tim Hortons. To counter the bitterness, terms like latte and espresso were introduced, along with flavored syrups and milk. This was the beginning of considering coffee as an experience, focusing on quality and origin.

Tim Hortons Double Double
FYI Double Double means: Double Cream and Double sugar!!

Selling our Costa Rican coffee beans at Edmonton Christmas Markets, I was surprised by the number of Double/Double orders—70% at least. This means that Edmontonians still enjoy their coffee conception as the second wave.


Edmonton boasts local chains like Good Earth Coffee House alongside these giants.


Third Wave: Specialization and Sustainability


The third wave sees the emergence of micro-roasters, emphasizing fair compensation for producers and quality relationships. Terms like fair trade gain prominence, educating customers about coffee to the level of wine or cheese. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) was born, along with barista competitions and cupping competitions in coffee-producing countries.

Edmonton's coffee scene reflects this diversity.


Edmonton's Coffee Scene: Diversity and Preferences


In Edmonton, there are low-cost cafeterias that buy their coffee from suppliers who perceive coffee as the first wave. Their focus is primarily on offering what I refer to coffee shop food: bread, sandwiches, pastries, and coffee to satisfy the less complicated and busy customer.


For the coffee snobs and those who are not, for me, a Specialty Coffee shop (third wave) is a Coffee Roaster that also has its coffee shop focused on high-quality control and transparency from their suppliers. They will offer different kinds of brewing methods and should have an offer of coffees from different origins providing each flavor profile.


My favorite specialty coffee shop in Edmonton is Rogue Wave Coffee. They know what they are doing, they know their coffee suppliers, and they put science and heart into roasting.

Coffee shops Edmonton
Beautiful Flat White at Rogue Wave


I love The Colombian, also focused on baking delicious donuts, committed to providing transparency about where their coffee comes from, and sharing the story of their family from Colombia.


Transcend Coffee is categorized as a pioneer in the specialty coffee shop scene, with applause that is inscribed in The Pledge, meaning they’re committed to transparency!


Ace coffee roaster also promotes single-origin coffee.


And if you are on the outskirts of Edmonton, in the Leduc area before going to the airport and want to set your coffee consumption before entering the culinary embarrassment of airports, you must go to Alternate Route! With the best attitude, Ian, Kellie or Corie will attend to you and prepare a delicious cappuccino or flat white with their coffee from Bolivia or Colombia!


But also, it is possible to find high-quality coffee shops that buy their coffee from micro-roasters and focus on selling food and bread as their main business. Cafés like Dristric Café, DOSC, Duchess, Pact Coffee, and Stop Gap are all good options.

48 views1 comment

1 comentario

Wow, it's amazing how many stories - the good, the bad and the ugly - that Colleen and I have about some of the coffee shops mentioned! I'd never heard of the pledge before but I love the idea of that, thanks for linking. In terms of "relational proximity" I'm not sure how it fits in terms of .. well, From Coffee Bean to Human Being, I want to call it. I was proud to see District Coffee and Edmonton represent. I think the website needs an editor's touch to humanize it more for people like me who don't quite have the industry lingo down pat. :/ I'll give Trish Rothgeb a listen on Spotify, again, thanks for linking. JMC


Me gusta
bottom of page