YEG Coffee Shop Freelancing, Part I

 

I’m no barista, I just work here.

I live in a basement. It’s a nice suite; well lit, spacious enough. But now that I’m working for myself, I spend a lot of time down there. So, I like to get out and set up in coffee shops for a few hours, be it in the morning or evening. Sure, it’s an added expense, but it’s still cheaper than office space. Plus, I generally like the coffee shop vibe and occasionally meeting new people.

After a few months of doing this, I’ve visited quite a few. So, I thought I’d share what I’ve found with all you beautiful Edmontonians, especially my fellow freelancers and those of you side hustlin’ in the evenings. This time, I'll cover some of the sweet spots I've found on the west side of downtown.

Super serious criteria

I won’t just be sharing locations, but also thoughts on the following:

Vibe: What’s it like to hang out here for a few hours? How’s the lighting, decor, noise volume, friendliness, music, and overall feel of the place?

Drink: Based on the quality of coffee-based beverages and any signature other drinks (eg. chai lattes).

Food: I don’t always have a snack when I stop in to work, but, anytime you’re somewhere for a few hours, having access to delicious things is a plus.

Value: Bang for one’s buck when it comes to food and drink. When you’re  frequently spending a few hours in these establishments, it’s something to keep in mind. This is more related to the dollar you’re paying for the quality one gets, rather than quantity.

Workspace: How comfortable is it to set up shop here? Are there decent-sized tables and plenty of them? How about access to outlets? Are the chairs comfortable, or is a test of wills to sit there for more than an hour?

 

Round one!

Credo Coffee (124 street location)
10350 124 Street NW
credocoffee.ca

Monday - Friday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM  

Credo’s 104 street location is a neighbourhood stalwart. I used to enjoy stopping in there for a cup when I was a suit, but it was always quite busy and seating was at a premium. So I thought I’d try their new-ish 124 Street location instead. 

Getting there: 124 street is nice and walkable, although free parking is tough to find. Check the residential area on the east side of the street. 

Credo's bar is a thing of beauty. Thanks to Mack Male for the photo.

Credo's bar is a thing of beauty. Thanks to Mack Male for the photo.

Vibe
Credo has a relaxed-but-professional feel. Despite being below street level, the wall of windows lets in ample light. The concrete ceiling and pillars and grey-wood floor give everything a very modern feel. Yet, it still feels warm and welcoming. The soundtrack hops from jazzy to chillout electronica. Noise does carry a bit, but overall, I enjoy just sitting here. The staff is also polite and knowledgeable.

Drinks
Credo’s coffee is second to none. The selection of pourover coffee, provided by Direct Trade suppliers Intelligentsia, is consistently good. Espresso-wise, my Americano was strong, bright, and not overly bitter. Milk alternatives are available at no charge, which is always pleasant. Their latte is also near-perfect. Their sign says “coffee to believe in”, and they mean it. Also of note is a selection of juices from Glow Juicery.

Food
Credo’s baking is all made in house and is delicious. I’ve had both the ginger pear and the cranberry cornmeal muffins, and both were fresh, flavourful, and in one case, still warm. Can’t really go wrong with that. 

Credo’s coffee is second to none.

Value
$2.50 for a substantial, fresh-baked muffin is a price I’m willing to pay. Hot drink prices are comparable to most other coffee shops, although their pourover coffee is a little more due to it not being run-of-the-mill. With quality in mind, Credo’s prices are more than fair.

Workspace
There are several bar areas at Credo to set up at by yourself, and good-sized square tables as well. There is a fair number of tables and it does not feel crowded, even when full. A lack of accessible plugins makes long work sessions a little tough, though. I noticed a few, but their placement wasn’t ideal for setting up shop. As mentioned, it can get a little loud too. Overall, I was comfortable working here, though. Definitely a good place to have a meeting and a conversation, and a reasonable one to work at for a few hours.

Overall
You can’t go wrong with Credo. Great vibe, coffee, and baking. More power outlet options would be nice, but, that isn’t a deal-breaker.

Go for: A meeting, or to clear your head and really crush a project for an hour
Stay for: A latte and a fresh muffin


Remedy Cafe (124 st and 109 st locations)
Five locations
remedycafe.ca

7:30 or 8:00 am - midnight

Ah, Remedy. In the last decade, it has gone from hole-in-the-wall on 109 street to the five-location, Edmonton juggernaut it is today. I find myself at Remedy quite a bit, largely due to their late hours and my occasional late-night bursts of creative energy. When I’m working there, it’s usually at the 124 street or 109 street location due to their table space, although the Terwillegar location would be fine as well, just out of the way for me.

Getting there: Free parking is a little tough on 124 Street, but again, there is some in the residential to the east. The 109 street location has a decent-sized parking lot but can be quite busy. Remember to register your plate inside!

Remedy on 124th. Always bright and lively.

Remedy on 124th. Always bright and lively.

Vibe
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a closet hippie (although certainly less closeted lately). So, with it’s casual, cheery, community feel, Remedy speaks to me. The warm lighting, wall of posters, and friendly staff at both amplify the aforementioned community feel, while the eclectic chairs and graffiti-filled bathrooms are a throwback to the 109th street location’s original, smaller space. The 124th street location feels more like the “modern” Remedy, but, the experience remains the same. I should note that the 109th street Remedy gets PACKED on weekends and mid-evening. Go early or after 9 for best results. The staff controls the soundtrack so you can get a pretty mixed bag here. I’ve definitely Shazam'd a few things, so they’re doing something right. 

Drinks
Remedy’s chai lattes are their signature drink, and with good reason. Each variation is  creamy, sweet, and with some spice. The Kashmiri chai is also great late night option as it lacks the caffeine kick of the others. Remedy’s coffee and espresso doesn’t top my list, but,some people love it so maybe it’s just me. You’ll also find a huge selection of tea lattes (try the coconut fog), loose teas, beer, and even kombucha.  

Food
Remedy’s calling card, along with chai, has always been its Indian food. If I’m in the mood for something bigger, their butter chicken and daal are both solid. They also do Indian in wrap form, although they’ve recently switched to a thinner, crispier wrap which I’m not a huge fan of. It’s a little bland and the texture just doesn’t hold up to their older, thicker wraps. Bring them back, Remedy! Remedy also has an ample selection of cookies, cakes, and baking, though I’m not sure what, if any, is done in house.

Value
Remedy is generally in line with standard coffee shop prices for drinks, and their wraps are quite filling for less than $10. The baking and sweets seem a bit overpriced, though. Still, they have Bloom’s vegan cookies, which are incredibly addictive and worth every penny.

Workspace
Remedy offers ample table space, and mostly good seating. What I really appreciate is the accessible power outlets along the walls. The long, communal tables at the 109 location are great when things get busy, and the patrons are pretty welcoming. However, Remedy can very busy at night and it gets LOUD. Bring headphones. I’ve ran into times where there has literally been nowhere to sit, though. A testament to Remedy’s popularity, but not ideal when you’re looking to sit down and work.

Overall
I’ve spent a lot of time at Remedy and I’ll keep going back. It isn’t perfect, but that’s kinda part of the charm. I haven’t met anyone who openly dislikes Remedy either, making it a great choice when meeting friends. 

Go for: A marathon morning (if you like it quiet) or late evening (if you like it energetic) writing session.
Stay for: The chai, duh.


Bru Coffee + Beer House
11965 Jasper Ave, Edmonton
brucoffeeandbeerhouse.com

Monday - Wednesday: 7:00 am - 11:00 pm
Thursday - Friday: 7:00 am - 1:00 am
Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 am
Sunday: 8:00 am - 10:00 pm

Bru does beer just as well as it does coffee, making it a great place to stop in at any hour.

Bru does beer just as well as it does coffee, making it a great place to stop in at any hour.

Bru is a relatively new kid on the block, although they’ve been serving up coffee and beer for about a year and a half now. I first stumbled into Bru not long after it opened to, well, get some work done and have a coffee. Since then, I’ve met friends there at all hours, and have taken a few solo trips too.

Getting there: Bru is conveniently located on Jasper Ave, in the heart of Oliver. It’s far enough away from the core that there’s ample free parking out front on Jasper, aside from the tow-away zone hours of 7:00 - 9:00 am. There’s also parking in the nearby residential and along the Victoria promenade, which makes for a great evening walk.

Vibe
Much like Credo, it feels modern, but the exposed ducts, high concrete ceilings, thin light fixtures, filament bulbs, and beer/coffee diagrams give Bru a slightly more industrial/craftsman feel. Gender-neutral washrooms too; good on you, Bru! The staff is wonderful here; everyone is conversational, down to earth, and knowledgeable. Music-wise, I got a full playthrough of Soundgarden’s Superunknown on my last visit, which kinda made my day. Someone loves their pop-punk here too :) 

Drinks
Bru’s coffee is great. Their pourover coffees come from Transcend, Bow + Arrow, and Phil and Sebastian, none of which you can go wrong with. Nothing roasted to death here; I don’t often drink my coffee black unless I’m at Bru. My americano was similarly bright and didn’t resemble traditional espresso but was nonetheless delicious. Bru also has fresh OJ, which is a nice touch, and I’ve been told they have some interesting teas too. Beer-wise, Bru almost always has Alley Kat on tap, along with some rotating ones, and a small-but-interesting rotating selection of craft bottles. I like my stouts and darker ales, and Bru always has something interesting to try.

Food
Bru’s food is relatively simple but their attention to detail is superb. From the fresh fruit that accompanies your bowl of popcorn to the house-made baked goods, they cares about what they serve and it shows. Bru's Bacon ‘n Egger might be the best breakfast sandwich in the city. Croissants make everything better.

Value
The quality at Bru is high enough to justify it a higher-than-average price, and they do have cheaper sharables alongside the pricier menu items if you want something to snack on with your drink as well.The hot drinks are comparable to other shop prices, although a coffee is a little more. But when it’s this good and you get the little carafe of extra coffee along with your cup, it’s worth it. 

Bru’s Bacon ‘n Egger might be the best breakfast sandwich in the city. Croissants make everything better.

Workspace
Bru is bright and spacious, making it a good space to work in the morning and afternoon. The music isn’t quiet, which is fine, depending on your musical tastes. Evenings get a little busy, though. I’m more likely to stop in socially then. Small downsides:  the bench seats aren’t as comfy as the chairs (some cushions might be nice), and there’s really only two spots with electrical outlet access. Minor, but, just being honest. Still, Bru is a welcoming spot to hang out and crush some projects.

Overall
If I lived above Bru, I’d probably be here every second day. Great coffee and snacks, wonderful staff, trendy decor, and an overall welcoming vibe.

Go for: A walk on the Victoria promenade before settling in for breakfast and a morning work marathon
Stay for: An afternoon pint and Bru’s excellent popcorn


Options galore

I feel pretty lucky to have so many good options in Edmonton to set up shop in. I mean, all you REALLY need is one good spot, but, I’m a fan of variety. And we’re just getting started. Stay tuned for the next three spots.

Your (or your favourite) coffee shop here? 

I’m sure there are some places I’m not familiar with, so, if you know of a good spot or work at one, let me know. I’d be happy to stop by.