Cool Calgary: The storage closet coffee shop

It can be a bit tricky to find Kaffeeklatsch, but that's what makes it cool.

It takes perseverance to find the 25-square-foot espresso bar

The easiest way to find Calgary's smallest coffee shop is to walk through the doors of the Old Y Building, veer right and look down.

The wayfinding to Kaffeklatsch is on the linoleum floor — a line of black and white circular stickers with the letter "K" on them.

"I feel like it's more like cookie crumbs, leading you to the place," said the tiny owner inside her tiny storage closet.

"I kind of like that aspect of finding the closet," said Jessica McCarrel. "Because I want that element of surprise."

The wayfinding that points you to Kaffeklatch is on the floor. (CBC)

It is a wonder how McCarrel managed to build a coffee shop in a 25-square-foot space, but she has it all: an espresso machine, a sink, plumbing, a fridge stocked with organic milk and shelves lined with dishes and bags of coffee beans.

"We think it might have been like a dumbwaiter," she said, which is a small freight elevator that carries objects instead of people.

The old Y.W.C.A sandstone structure was built in 1911 to meet the housing needs of single women, new to Calgary at the time. Today, it's the home of CommunityWise, a venue that provides offices, meeting rooms and activity spaces for over 60 not-for-profit organizations.

McCarrel has worked for years in the building, most recently, at the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers.

The Old Y Building is the home of CommunityWise, which provides space for grassroots organizations in Calgary. (CBC)

"I knew my time there was limited and I didn't know what to do next," she said. "There were a lot of board discussions that talked about wanting to animate this space."

McCarrel thought coffee would be the perfect way to draw people into the Old Y and give more exposure to the grassroots initiatives happening within the walls of the building.

'Kaffeeklatsch' means coffee gossip in German. McCarrel says the term is used to describe a group of little old ladies who get together and talk about the news of the day over chocolate cake and coffee.

The light installation that hangs above the entrance to the storage closet was created by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, who also created CLOUD — the interactive light bulb sculpture featured in 2012 at Nuit Blanche Calgary.

Kaffeeklatsch is located inside the Old Y Building at 223 12th Ave. S.W. in Calgary's Beltline district. It's open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

This summer, the Calgary Eyeopener is featuring people contributing to the "cool factor" of our city. If you know someone who is making Calgary cool, send an email to