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Mar 31, 2007 01:48 PM

Phil+Sebastian Coffee- Calgary Farmers' Market

Phil+Sebastian Coffee opened yesterday at the Calgary Farmers' Market, taking over and surprisingly massively renovating the former Bit O Beans space.

I went this morning. I cannot say enough positive about the shop. The equipment is absolutely first rate along lines we have not yet seen in Calgary: Mazzer grinders, a La Marzocco espresso machine, and, and this really shocked me, a Clover by-the-cup brewing system. This hit Vancouver last year and I never expected to see one in Calgary- it makes absoutely outstanding coffee a cup at a time using a proprietary system that is akin to a french press in principle (but not at all in practice- you have to see this baby in action). I never expected to see one here because most brewed coffee fans are perfectly happy with vac-pots and the like, and because (mainly because) a Clover costs $11,000. I sampled an Ethiopian Hacha (sp?) and it was great- but I came for a cappuccino. P+H use Hines Public Market (from Vancouver, first in Calgary with this bean) espresso blend for their espresso-based drinks (the Clover brews various varietals from a roaster in Denver, all very close to the roast though, no worries about stale beans here).

After the friendly Phil pulled my shot (and what a mottled beauty, pure espresso porn) into a lovely Italian ceramic cappo mug, I asked if I could pour the mik, and he obliged, no questions asked (I did not get my morning practice at latte art in my kitchen since I was saving my coffee experience for P+H), and I poured a fairly credible rosetta, though not nearly as good as what they were creating behind the counter. But the cappo- it was absolutely perfect, heavenly, a perfect temperature (no scalded milk, no scalding cup), smooth, not a bit of sugar needed- I had a cappo at Starbucks yesterday (hey, I was desperate) and after requesting it "wet" got a cup of ... well let's just say it was not good. P+H have been practicing on that La Marzocco for a while now and it shows.

I can finally say with absolute confidence that we have a pure coffee purveyor that can go toe-to-toe with the best in Vancouver. yes, we still have Bumpy's, which is outstanding, but is still not purely or even mainly about coffee. We have the sublime Java Jamboree in Cochrane, but Cochrane is quite a jog for many of us. Communitea in Canmore- outstanding, but a stretch to say it's a Calgary spot.

Cappo was $3.50 and very, very much worth it. I also picked up two 3/4 lb packs of their espresso blend beans; these are not cheap at $13 for 12 oz but when you consider the cost of shipping from Hines per se (or making the trip to Vancouver) it's not that bad- quality beans are never cheap, but coffee is still almost too-good value. This works out to about $18/lb; a 1-lb bag of, say, Oso Negro from Community Natural Foods in $15.95 and is really not as good a bean as this. It's a fari price for above-fair-trade beans from great roasters.

This is huge for Calgary.

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  1. thanks for the info. I miss cafe artigianno (sp) and always stop by in vancouver. NOw it looks like I will have nothing to miss? And I am happy for you, it's nice to witness another's pure unadulaterated pleasure!

    1. John Manzo,
      You mentioned Cochrane's Java Jamboree...seriously? I frequented the place in high school when a friend worked there and it never really did it for me. I'm just curious, did you ever make it over to Cochrane Coffee Traders? It's an adorable homegrown little place. It's got a great atmosphere, the staff is always super friendly, the owners are WONDERFUL people, and it's the freshest coffee this side of Seattle, not to mention fresh, from-scratch baking every single morning. They've got a roasterie in town (which also runs a mini-cafe) as well as the main location (2nd Ave W, just around the corner from MacKay's). All organic, shade-grown coffee...divine. If you have been there, I'm curious to know how Java outdoes them.
      Haven't made it out to the Farmer's Market this weekend, but I look forward to hitting up Phil & Sebastian's. Until then, Coffee Traders for me...

      2 Replies
      1. re: ressa

        Java Jamboree was the first coffehouse in Canada to have a Synesso Syncra, which might be the best espresso machine in the world (Synesso and La Marzocco are considered the top machines); they get beans from Vivace in Seattle and Josuma in San Francisco, which are both very, very well respected artisanal roasters; the owners actually trained with David Schomer of Vivace, and the staff are extensively trained- walls are covered with staff latte art. The macchiato I had there, made with Josuma Malabar Gold- one of the world's most coveted cofffees- made time stand still.

        I don't know much about CCT, but I will never pass up the opportunity to have Vivace or MG made expertly on a Syncra.

        1. re: John Manzo

          While I like CCT well enough, it's hardly what I call awesome coffee. Their lattes are fine.

      2. I am in LOVE with Phil+Sebastian!!!!!
        I still am dreaming of the espresso!! yumyum
        counting the days till i can have another beautifully poured and served espresso

        1. I'll second the props for the Clover machine. I'm no coffeegeek, but the Ethiopian blend was exquisite. I figured I'd take a sip before adding some milk to it, but after a sip, I couldn't bring myself to do add anything. The cup was just too interesting... I'm not sure if it was the friendly Phil or somebody else, but he insisted I come over and watch the Clover in action, and described how the puck should turn out and how they've been having trouble keeping some of the blends in stock because of the volume they're doing on it... No surprise. Next time the wife, kid and I head down to Calgary Farmer's Market, the first stop will be at P&S!

          1. It really as good as everyone says it is. A beautiful heart with a tail adorned my cappuccino. I went when it wasn't busy so I had the benefit of a very informative conversation with one of the guys. I can't wait until the market is open on thursdays as well.