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Phil+Sebastian Coffee- Calgary Farmers' Market

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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.

            1. JG wrote about them in his column in the Herald today- and referred to a coffeegeek named "J.M.," who is yours truly. I wanted him to use my actual name, dammit.

              13 Replies
              1. re: John Manzo

                JM, i saw the article... what praise...* haha, i thought that the above mentioned was you!!
                I FINALLY made it to the market this afternoon, and braved the 15 minute line up,
                I went for the Latte..... and I haven't stopped thinking about it since my last sip. Truly this is the best cup of coffee I have had in Alberta. no questions.... *so sorry Bumpys.. still a strong second choice!

                oh and that "clover" machine... what a beautiful way to brew a cup, I've never seen anything like it before.

                Looking forward to a stop first thing Friday for another hit!

                1. re: CookieGal

                  Bumpy's has a second single-origin espresso option daily now, and I went on Thurs after a long time away since I've been elbow deep in my own espresso lately (just bought a new Elektra Microcasa a Leva machine, it's a beauty), and my God we're blessed for coffee in Calgary these days...

                  Sebastian at P&H tells me that he's working with Janice Beaton to shape up the coffee program at Beano, and it would be great to see that place meet its potential.

                  Also- further down the road- the people at Java Jamboree in Cochrane, who brought the first Synesso Cyncra to Alberta, have signed a lease for the retail space in 8 St across from the Best Western (this is just 3 blocks south of Bumpy's!) and plan to open in September.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    i'm hooked on phil & Sebastian! i thought what i bought would make it til the weekend but i have the sneaking suspision that i'm going to run out about wednesday.....have to wait till saturday :(

                    it really is delicious!! thanks John for being on top of all this for us!

                2. re: John Manzo

                  Oh the irony. He'll keep your identity anonymous....

                  1. re: bohunk

                    yeah- I'm thinking, "thanks for not using my photo, John. Oh, wait...."

                    What's this I hear about the market being open Thurdays?

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      as of march 27th - still friday-sunday...

                      1. re: John Manzo

                        One of the vendors posted it on here last week I think. they said that as of June 1st, they are open until 7 on Friday, and from July 5th to Sep 2nd, they will open on Thursdays from 9-5. I hope that the thursdays isn't going to be limited vendors like it sometimes is after holidays.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          One of two things will happen soon with the CFM:

                          1) They will be open seven days a week.
                          2) They will leave and go somewhere else.

                          I talked to one of the vendors a couple of weeks ago, and the leaseholders want more money from that land. There's a huge development coming in there, and the only way the CFM can please their leaseholders is to generate more revenue by staying open all week. If they choose not to stay open, they'll be kicked out and the structure will probably be torn down and turned into housing.

                          1. re: Shazam

                            Leases are good until 2009, or so I heard...

                            There was talk on skyscraperpage about the CFM moving to the Stampede expansion- a farmers' market is part of the plan there; whether it will assimilate or compete with the CFM shoud be interesting to observe.

                            It's true that accommodating the market AND the very dense housing and retail plans for this phase of Garrison Woods will be challening, but I for one can see nothing but upside to this- get rid of the horrible mud parking lot, have a great magnet to promote a sensible, dense urbanist neighbourhood, create synergy between the market and a permanent local (pedestrian!) population- it's all good, potentially.

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              The rumour I heard is that Torrode is courting them (and many other tenants in and around Currie Barracks) for the new Ramsay development, SE of the Stampede Grounds (not part of the Stampede Expansion).

                              1. re: bohunk

                                Hmmmm.... given the location, if poaching is to be done, wouldn't it make more sense to do it at Crossroads?

                                1. re: John Manzo

                                  I think he want's the whole package: the film companies, any arts groups... and the market. He knows Calgary Farmer's market is getting the boot eventually.

                              2. re: John Manzo

                                Some of the vendors do not want to be open any more than they already are. Being open the whole Easter weekend really, really angered some of the vendors. On the other hand, some of them are licking their chops at getting more business, so there ya go :)

                                2009 is a mere 20 months away, so something's gotta happen soon.