Transcend Coffee's ambassadors make several international trips each year in their search for green coffee farms. They meet with small-scale, eco-friendly growers to tour their crops and microbrewing mills, focusing on building long-term relationships with those who are passionate about coffee. They then buy directly from the farmers, shipping beans back across oceans to Transcend Coffee's central roastery and three cafés scattered across Edmonton. Here, they roast and brew specialty artisan coffees, educate their visitors on the background of each batch, and illustrate the brewing process through interpretive dance.
Using ever-evolving methods, the brewers adopt a trial-and-error approach to defining each coffee's definitive flavour profile. Two licensed Q coffee graders often smell and taste each batch of coffee, and they sort coffees based on rigid quality standards, looking for underdeveloped roasted beans known as “quakers” or “the stupid lighter ones.”
The cafes boast shelves of roasted coffees such as bwayi from Burundi, michioy from Guatemala, and certified organic beans from Santa Lucia. In the store, staffers also point out the highlights of automatic drip brewers, manual brewers, and bean grinders from manufacturers such as Baratza, Bonavita, and Technivorm.
With an eye toward social responsibility, the staff at each La Prep location pours brewed coffee and espresso drinks that come from 100% Rainforest Alliance certified beans into compostable cups. In the kitchen, cooks prepare four types of breakfast sandwiches fresh each day and add tasty twists such as smoked-salmon pitas and a gourmet grilled cheese with apples and sage. More than 40 types of soup as well as the quiche du jour rotate on a daily basis for optimum freshness.
Sometimes you need a little pick-me-up, and Qup Cafe dishes out plenty of those just a few steps away from the University of Alberta. But once you step into the friendly café, you'll face an important decision: sweet or savory?
The café has built a reputation for its fruity bubble tea creations, and it also packs its beverage menu with real-fruit smoothies, hot drinks, and Hong Kong–style milk teas. Sweet options carry over to the food selection, which includes crepes and Belgian waffles. The café plates up a multitude of savory dishes, too, such as green-onion pancakes, noodle bowls, and bite-size fish balls with a housemade spicy glaze.
Table Top Cafe offers more than coffee drinks; it's a haven for game lovers to meet, play, and even purchase board games both popular and eclectic. The concept, which has earned praise on TV and in print, works like this: visitors pay a $5 entrance fee, which gives them all-you-can-play access to the large collection of board games. Visitors can keep their strategies sharp with coffee drinks, sandwiches, and beer, and purchase games to take home.
Baba Finks Canteen serves up sandwiches inspired by cuisines and cities from around the world. The San-Cran-Sisco tops marinated chicken breast with a cranberry jalapeño salsa, whereas the Suit 'n Thai blends chicken breast with housemade peanut satay and a Thai slaw of cucumber, carrot, and sprouts. The sandwich selection is rounded out by four types of handmade pyrogys, including the Blazing Saddle topped with spicy peppers and bacon.
Early Bird Cafe's chefs rouse appetites with an expansive menu of classic eats that spans breakfast, lunch, dinner, and forgotten sleepwalking stop-ins. They quickly whip up hearty omelettes, meaty gourmet burgers, and sweet waffles to sate breakfast and lunch cravings every day, and burn the post-noon oil to satisfy the dinner crowd with juicy steaks and baked Italian classics.