Behind the large garage doors of a small industrial space sits one of the cities most well-hidden venues. Hidden behind Oliver Square, it’s a stylish backdrop for private events — concrete floors, industrial equipment, and the neighbouring graveyard with Hudson’s Bay-era plots give the location an exclusive, almost speakeasy, feel.
Product launches, wine tastings, private dinners and intimate weddings are often hosted here. The location is so easy to miss; the only indicator of the business is a small folding
sign placed out front that reads “Koffiehuis.” This is the home of Iconoclast Koffiehuis —an endeavour from coffee roaster Ryan Arcand. If the name sounds familiar, it’s likely because, since 2009, Iconoclast has made a name for itself as the coffee roaster behind the brews at many local restaurants, including RGE RD, Wild Earth Bakery and the Culina Restaurant Family. It also finished in second spot in the Best Cafe category in our March Best Restaurants issue. It’s within the hidden space that Arcand, a self-taught coffee roaster, roasts small batches — by hand — a few times per week. He also services equipment wholesale clients use to make their caffeinated creations.
The coffee bar itself was an afterthought. Inspired by a traditional European coffee house, Arcand slowly brought his vision into focus. It’s what he calls “a social, political, intellectual meeting space,” which would explain how word has slowly travelled through the trendsetters and in-the-know-folks without any advertising efforts.
Once the wholesale business was at a comfortable level, Arcand reused materials from the initial renovation — pieces pulled from the building and materials of the reno — to build a coffee bar smack dab in the centre of the space early last year: Shipping pallets, tiles, wood and even the nails and screws. But, in the end, the 360-degree bar is a comfortable perch from which to strike up a conversation with the barista or any other of the patrons.
With the slick bar in place and the speak-easy mentality in mind, Arcand reasoned that the word-of-mouth reputation would do more to build a successful coffee shop than advertising — a feat made much easier by the security of his wholesale business. “Most people think we just opened, but we’ve past our five-year mark already,” he says.
Of course, the nighttime crowd knows better. The coffee roaster originally wanted to have Iconoclast work as a coffee bar during the day and a wine bar at night, but a friend suggested using the space as an event venue — one unlike any other in Edmonton.
Just don’t be surprised to see trucks backing up to the doors and hear the loud roaster in the background. You are in a production facility, after all.
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