You can’t get coffee much fresher than at Transcend because the baristas will grind the beans right before your eyes. Not only that, but Poul Mark, owner of the coffee house, has a relationship with international coffee growers, and looks for the best in acidity, sweetness and mouth-feel. Once the seeds (yes, they’re actually seeds, not beans) are harvested, they’re transported to Transcend’s Edmonton headquarters, where they’re roasted, producing a product with as many different notes and flavours as vino. Even though Starbucks occupies most street corners throughout the globe, Mark’s found that people are eager not only to drink coffee, but to learn more about it. He’s held classes and tastings and really feels he can make a difference by offering a unique, socially responsible product. Mark actually meets the coffee farmers and works out sustainable prices. It might be a lot of information to swallow in the morning, but it’ll go down smooth in the form of a classic latte or mocha. –Caroline Barlott 8708 109 St., 780-756-8882, transcendcoffee.ca
The baristas in this small space whip up an assortment of caffeinated treats,using not only milk, but also soy milk or almond milk. Credo uses Intelligentsia coffee, which commits to healthy environmental practices and sustainability,and pays farmers at least 25 per cent above fair trade price, meaning you can truly feel good about every sip – not to say you won’t enjoy it for the taste.Credo’s authentic Chai tea, made with Masala chai, has a slight sweetness and is strong without tasting bitter. When Intelligentsia coffee is mixed with gourmet Jacek chocolate and steamed almond milk, it forms a silky smooth mocha that’s surprisingly unsweet but, ultimately, delightful.-Sydnee Bryant 10134 104 Ave., 780-761-3744, credocoffee.com
Honourable MentionL: DAUPHINE BAKERY AND BISTRO
Dauphine is tucked away underground, but its high ceilings prevent any claustrophobia. A wide display of fresh baked breads, tarts, brownies and cakes compete with several shelves of delectable take-home delights, such as the addictive macaroons and light-as-air cranberry and pistachio rochers (meringues). While Dauphine’s coffee list is relatively basic, it makes up for it with quality ingredients, especially its house-made vanilla syrup. The vanilla latte’s another example of excellent quality – made with milk, fresh coffee and flecks of vanilla bean, it’ll satisfy your caffeine craving without suffocating your sweet tooth. -S.B.