Before I travel to a new place, I always try to ask my friends for recommendations. When I would tell friends that we were going to the Canadian Rockies, their eyes would light up with excitements and they would start giving me lots of tips and talk about all of their favorite places. When I would ask friends for tips on what to do in Calgary, their faces would turn to a blank expression and they would just shrug or suggest that we skip Calgary all together.
Despite most (East coast) Canadian’s lukewarm feelings towards Calgary, I knew I had to stop there for a reason very close to my coffee loving heart. Calgary happens to be the home of Phil & Sebastian coffee roasters and their cafes. Phil & Seb coffee beans have been the connecting dots between all of my favorite coffee experiences in Canada in the last two years.
On my first morning in Canada, when I came to Montreal for work in the summer of 2014, I wandered into a neighbourhood cafe for breakfast and I had the most amazing latte. This cafe was Pikolo Espresso and it wasn’t until a later trip that I realized that they use Phil & Seb coffee exclusively!
The first time I truly took notice of Phil & Seb was in much more random and remote place, Saint John’s, Newfoundland. I happened to be there on a business trip and as usual, I ignored the boring breakfast offerings of my business hotel and instead I decided to try a popular local bakery and cafe – The Rocket Bakery. Their food and coffee was absolutely delicious and the cafe provided a cozy space to hide away from 50 mph winds and snow coming from the Atlantic ocean. I came back every single day and I liked their coffee so much that I decided to buy some coffee beans to bring home. I found it somewhat amusing that a Newfoundland cafe would use coffee beans all the way from Calgary.
I came back to Toronto and even after living here for 6 months I was still struggling to find a place that I could call my favorite local cafe. One morning, just walking on College street I decided to try Voodoo Child cafe. The first thing I noticed was that their “guest” coffee beans were from Phil & Seb. My heart jumped with excitement and I fell in love with this cafe before I finished my first cappuccino with bunny latte art. Voodoo child would become my favorite hangout for Sunday mornings and I am sitting here now, as I am writing this blog post.
At this point, I had already accepted that Phil & Seb coffee has a certain magic, so it didn’t surprise me at all that Revolver in Vancouver had their coffee beans on offer. I knew that I had to visit one of their original cafes in Calgary one day.
Coming to Phil & Seb for the first time was probably as close as I can get to a fangirl moment, I have to admit I had butterflies in my stomach as I ordered my first cappuccino. It was so good that I cannot decide which superlative I should use to describe it. We spent less than 24 hours (split between 3 days) in Calgary and we managed to have four coffees at Phil & Seb and four meals at their neighboring restaurant and bakery at the Simmons Building, Sidewalk Citizen.
Calgary has not become my favorite city in Canada but if you happen to be travelling to the Canadian Rockies, you should definitely stop by Phil & Seb for the best coffee you will ever taste. If you visit the Simmons building location, which is beautiful, Sidewalk Citizen bakery is right next to Phil & Seb. They bake great sourdough bread and pastries and they also serve creative salads, light meals and the best brunch. Calgary is supposed to be the sunniest city in Canada and for us the weather was great and on both days (flying in and out of Calgary), the city was filled with cyclists and runners and we enjoyed walking around the river. Another place worth mentioning is Village Ice cream, we waited in a 100+ people line on a Saturday night to try their ice cream and it shouldn’t be a surprise that my favorite flavor was Phil&Seb coffee.
NB: If you would like to learn more about Phil & Seb, read their novel-like “about” page, I promise it is a very good read.