Everyone knows that there is something irresistibly glamourous about being in a coffee shop. Whether accompanied by a tiny cappuccino and warm treat, a Moleskin notebook and a ballpoint, a leather bound novel and a newspaper or a well-dressed best friend and inspired conversation, coffee shops hold an endless number of well-kept secrets. I don’t know what it is about small towns – perhaps the lack of anonymity between the proprietors and the patrons – but the coffee shops that pepper the streets of Revelstoke, BC, have a loyal scene so strong that a daily cafe visit is not far off from a pilgrimage.
The token travel writing line: “at first glance, these shops are bustling hubs of brewed beans and recreational chatter, but with a closer look”; is one of those that you gloss over with your eyes and fail to digest due to its lack of originality. But in the case of each and every coffee shop in Revelstoke, I’ll vouch for the deeper story behind each lavender infused specialty tea or homemade pie recipe. From the Parisienne glamour of La Baguette to the indie comfort of Sangha Bean, each cafe is home to an altogether different vibe, a different set of regulars and a different approach to the culture of “serving coffee,” in just the space of a few blocks.
But which is the coffee shop for you? Every day is different, and each cafe absolutely nails something in particular. Maybe today is the day for a maple mocha at Sangha Bean? Or an Americano from the Modern? A flat white from La Baguette? A goat’s milk latte from Twisted Annie’s? And then, we must of course, debate the accompanying snacks. Maybe today is one of those days where you make a quick stop at all the shops and see all the people you’ve been meaning to call for weeks and have all the treats and sit outside and watch the sun move across the valley to set behind the mountains (due to staggered hours of shops, it is possible to migrate across town with the sun).
There are six gentlemen debating the life and times of Jim Flaherty around an artisan wooden table and four twenty something girls laughing over an exuberantly told story on floral patterned couches. “African Peanut Yam” stew is being written on the chalkboard as the Soup of the Day, and a local artist drops off another round of homemade cards to replenish the bought-out stock. The ladies behind the coffee machine know everyone by name and hugs slow the coffee brewing. A round of coveted “Maple Mochas” are served in locally made pottery mugs, adding to the individuality of every single thing that is served in this living room of a coffee shop: Sangha Bean.
If looking for “Revelstoke’s downtown core” you will find yourself on Mackenzie Avenue, home to the Modern Bakeshop. Recently installed wooden doors hide the wonders that are brewing and baking in the back, while endless trays of breads, steaming pies, tightly wrapped burritos ready to grill, and gooey cookies flow to the front on industrial sized baking sheets, carried by one of the many cheerful young ladies that make up the Modern hospitality. In the front window sits a fit group of Muck boot and Arc’Teryx jacketed folks, planning the day’s adventure and fueling themselves with Stoke Roasted coffee and breakfast paninis. You might get a hug in the line up, you might see a new baby for the first time, you will definitely have a hard time making a decision as you creep towards the till past the array of cinnamon buns and open-faced smoked salmon sandwiches. Sweet or savoury: the adversity we face everyday.
Edith Piaf is softly playing, cheese is for sale at Montreal’s Atwater Market prices and the 49th Parallel coffee is strong and bitter. Homemade gelato, gluten-free chocolate chip banana bread, almond chai lattes, chicken and pork terrine and loaves of all shapes and sizes dot the wooden shelves and glass cabinets of the French inspired La Baguette.
Who says you can’t put together a stylish charcuterie platter in a tiny ski town in BC? Yam pate, stilton cheese and a fresh baguette, tucked into the basket on your bike will make a fabulous meal – that is, right after you finish your dessert of hazelnut gelato on the curb (a two-handed dining experience).
“Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, guilt free” is written on the front door, Revelstoke’s Stoke FM is playing from an old school boom box and the silver ceiling is glinting the morning sunshine off the faces of the people at the high tables: laughing over mugs of Twisted Lattes, hammering away at MacBooks, or dipping gluten free bread into Elk Stew.
Someone once said, “my ultimate dream is to spend the day in a coffee shop, reading a book.” Well, Twisted Annie’s is not the place for that: with an open concept that facilitates “stop and chats” and a piano with a rule of “30 minutes music for a free coffee,” this coffee shop is more the place for a conversation with an accidental new friend or just good old people watching. Yes, there is a deeply thought out menu of super foods that improve health and happiness…but what Twisted Annie’s really has is a whole lot of personality. I mean, even the mugs are twisted.
The “whys” behind the existence of these places is everything from passion for food to need for lifestyle change to care for the community. You can’t tell me a town of 8,000 that has its own “roasterie” is a town that doesn’t value the coffee scene. It’s more than just gas station drip and creamers up here, but you’ll have to take a closer look to see for yourself.
Dining in Revelstoke, BC