Calgary·FOOD AND THE CITY

Calgary's Kaffeeklatsch serves up lattes in a 25-sq. ft. coffee closet

​At $33 per month, Jessica McCarrel pays perhaps the lowest retail rent in Calgary for her tiny 25-square-foot coffee closet, Kaffeeklatsch, tucked into the back of a building with a long history of social justice.

Despite its tiny space, the cafe is equipped with everything you’d find in a full-service shop

'My entire life I’ve been non profit, so it’s taking me a while to realize I have to make money,' says owner Jessica McCarrell. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

At $33 per month, Jessica McCarrel pays perhaps the lowest retail rent in Calgary for her tiny 25-square-foot coffee closet, Kaffeeklatsch, tucked into the back of a building with a long history of social justice.

Kaffee (coffee) + klatsch (gossip) started with a small Kickstarter campaign in 2014, after McCarrel struggled to find work after a short stint away.

A graduate of Alberta College of Art and Design with a major in drawing, McCarrel had been the director of the New Gallery downtown for years.

Kaffeeklatsch is tucked into the back of the old brick and sandstone YWCA building on 12th Avenue S.W. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Upon her return to Calgary she took on a series of contracts, the last one as director of the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers in the CommunityWise Resource Centre, a shared community space for grassroots and nonprofits in the old brick and sandstone YWCA building on 12th Avenue S.W.

When her contract was up — she was filling in for a maternity leave — McCarrel wondered what to do next, and noticing a lack of good coffee in the area at the time, decided to take the plunge and do it herself. 

Despite its tiny space, Kaffeeklatsch is equipped with everything you'd find in a full-service coffee shop — she sources beans from Rosso Coffee Roasters and makes classic espressos, macchiatos and lattes.

Beside the small wooden box there's a room with a few wood tables and chairs, and sun streams through a tall, narrow window.

Somehow, McCarrel has managed to fit tables, chairs and a tall shelf of well-curated art books into her cozy space. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

There's a folding TV tray with cream, coffee stirrers and lids, locally made art cards for sale on the windowsill and a tall shelf of well-curated art books for sale. 

"My entire life I've been non-profit," McCarrel said, "so it's taking me a while to realize I have to make money."

Ironically, even with ridiculously low rent she has a hard time making ends meet, struggling to educate people of her whereabouts and with an increasing number of coffee options in the area.

On the lookout for a new home, she likes the idea of using small "lost" spaces and doing pop-ups around Calgary — but has also expanded beyond the CommunityWise walls. 

As the weather gets warmer, you'll see McCarrel on her custom-made Icicle Tricycle bike (made in Portland), serving cold brewed coffee out of a beer tap tower all over the city.

Despite its tiny space, Kaffeeklatsch is equipped with everything you’d find in a full-service coffee shop, including these beautiful, warm lattes. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Kaffeeklatsch is located at 223 12th Ave S.W. (follow the arrows to the back), 403-919-4479, @kaffeeyyc.

On Wednesday, McCarrel will teach an Aeropress class there from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for $5. To register, send an email here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.

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