Café crawling through Calgary's coffee scene
Density of great coffeehouses 'unlike anything I've ever seen,' says one YouTube host touring the city
Calgary has a multitude of high-quality and sometimes oddly creative coffee concoctions, but as a caffeine-loving duo recently found out, trying to sample them all may be an undertaking for only the most serious of connoisseurs.
Greg Moore and Justin Reves are social media hosts with a self-deprecating sense of humour. They describe themselves as "brilliant idiots who don't take themselves too seriously," and host a popular comedic talk show on YouTube and Facebook called Justin & Greg.
Their friend Scott Bakken, a Calgarian, had been raving about how the city's coffee scene was "next level."
"Certainly the density of great coffee shops in Calgary is unlike anything I've ever seen, whether that's heading out to Seattle or over in Europe. This was awesome," Reves said.
In the last eight years, coffee has become a central part of the city's fabric, according to a University of Calgary professor who's working on a book about the sociology of coffeehouses.
John Manzo said he was pleased to hear of Reves and Moore's adventures through Calgary's coffee scene. He said the city is unique because shops stay open late as alternatives to bars, and the entrepreneurial scene has grown to offer creative, world-class brews.
"Smart guys, very smart guys. If you're into coffee tourism, Calgary should be on everyone's map. It's a fantastic idea. I'd love to show them around myself," the professor said.
"Calgary's one of the best cities for coffee in the world, and it's amazing how many people are unaware of that."
Over the course of an hour, Moore, Reves and Bakken coffee-crawled to six different shops with one rule: no one was allowed to order the same drink twice. Between the three of them, they drank 18 coffees.
"To be honest, after six coffees in an hour, I did not feel good," said Moore. "I felt like I was dizzy and spin-y. My stomach and my spirit felt great, because I'm obviously basking in all these amazing coffee sensations.
"But at the end of the day, I was like, 'This is too much caffeine for one medium-sized person.'"
The two tried out coffees along 17th Avenue S.W., at Monogram, Analog, Philosafy, Rosso, Phil & Sebastian and Caffe Beano.
"It was intense but it was a blast — and it was cool to see even the variances between the different coffee shops," Reves said.
"They don't all feel the same, they don't all look the same, they don't all have the same style, so I think that there is a coffee shop for literally everyone."
Reves said he knows his coffee — "the cortado from Rosso changed my life, it was so good" — and tries out varieties on his travels for their videos throughout Canada and the United States.
But some drinks on this trip were very much for fun, like a root beer float-style beverage and another mixed with San Pellegrino.
Baristas filled one delicate espresso mug with a surprise when Moore ordered espresso con panna (espresso topped with a little whipped cream).
"Unfortunately, I'm a little bit lactose intolerant, so behind my back, they asked Justin, 'How much whipped cream do you want,' and he said, 'As much as you'll give me,'" Moore said. "So they filled the entire cup with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles and a little bit of espresso.
"And it set me back, it set me back a little bit."
Moore and Reves published a five-minute video this week of their hour-long coffee drinking spree that you can watch on Facebook and YouTube.
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