Go underground for Edmonton’s newest coffee shops

It was a little disappointing to miss the opening of three new coffee shops last month, but on the other hand, it was nice to have new places to explore after we got back! In October, Transcend returned to downtown with a new location in the Mercer Warehouse, Credo added a second location on 124 Street, and after years in the making, Burrow opened in the Central LRT Station. I checked out all three locations last week.

Transcend Mercer

Transcend Mercer

Let’s start with Transcend Mercer. After the location on Jasper Avenue closed, I wasn’t sure if or when Transcend would be back downtown. It was pretty clear that if they did return, it would be at a smaller, more manageable location. While the new cafe in the basement of the building is smaller, it’s bigger than I was expecting! I’m not sure why but I envisioned something with either limited or no seating, but there’s actually lots of room to hang out at Transcend Mercer.

Transcend Mercer

I went for my usual – a vanilla latte – and looked around the cafe. There’s only one window, but the space is surprisingly bright, and I love the wood beams and ceiling. I understand they will be adding artwork around the room, so that’ll add even more color and visual interest. Speaking of color, the green counter, black wall, and brown accents definitely give you a “coffee” feeling!

I’m sure the new cafe will be frequented by everyone in the building, and it’s great to have another coffee shop on 104 Street. I’m also happy to once again be able to buy Transcend beans throughout the week! For more on Transcend Mercer, check out Cindy’s review here!

Credo Coffee on 124 Street

Credo Coffee on 124 Street

As you may know, Credo Coffee on 104 Street is my usual spot. It’s extremely close to home, has great coffee, and has wonderful service. The only downside is that because Credo is so popular, it can sometimes be difficult to find a seat. The new location on 124 Street is quite a bit bigger though, so hopefully that won’t be such an issue there!

Credo Coffee on 124 Street

The new cafe is located at 10350 124 Street in the new Limelight building (which is just down the block from Remedy Cafe). It can be a little difficult to see, given that there are no signs on the building except for a vinyl banner where Credo is located. They are the first tenant in the building, so I hope better signage is coming.

Credo Coffee on 124 Street

Inside is open and roomy, with lots of seating and also lots of bar space. Though Credo’s space is mostly below street level, there are lots of windows which means lots of natural light. Oddly there are a lot of power outlets up high (I guess for Christmas lights?) so you might need a long cord if you’re going to plug in a laptop (maybe they can add some outlets lower to the floor).

My favorite vanilla latte was as delicious as ever, and it didn’t take long to feel right at home. I know I won’t make it to this location as often as 104 Street, but it’s great to see another fantastic addition to 124 Street.

Burrow Central Station

Burrow Central Station

A coffee shop in an LRT station? Finally Edmonton’s cafe scene has gone underground! Burrow Central Station (part of the growing Elm Cafe family) is the perfect addition to our growing and increasingly popular transit system, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come. Again my expectations were exceeded – I anticipated finding Burrow tucked away behind one of the walls, but instead found it centrally located in the concourse. You can’t miss it, and now that it is there, I simply can’t remember what it looked like before. Burrow looks like it belongs, like it should have always been there.

Burrow Central Station

Burrow uses Four Barrel Coffee from San Francisco, which I had not tried before. I decided to stick with the usual on my first visit (ok, ok, and also my second and third visits) and ordered a vanilla latte. I was pleasantly surprised to see they make it with real vanilla bean instead of syrup! I will have to go try a simple brewed coffee one of these days. They have a rotating lunch menu with a grilled cheese sandwich too, also on my list to try.

There is no seating in the LRT concourse, but for grab and go it’s hard to beat Burrow. My office is right above in the Empire Building, so I foresee many, many visits in my future! Again, check out Cindy’s review here.

Have you been to these three new cafes? What did you think? If not, raise a paper cup as Omar says, and go check them out!

LRT Construction Downtown: Short-term pain, long-term gain!

I’m excited about the expansion of our LRT network and what it’ll mean for Edmonton. It’s going to take a while until the entire network is completed, but work is already underway. While I would definitely fall into the YIMBY camp on LRT construction, that doesn’t mean there aren’t annoyances along the way. I just keep reminding myself – short-term pain, long-term gain!

The North LRT to NAIT is a 3.3 km extension from Churchill Station to NAIT with a total estimated cost of $755 million. Construction began in 2011 and over the last couple of years there has been a lot of activity along 105 Avenue and 105 Street in particular. The new line runs right through Sharon’s route to work, so she has experienced first-hand the inconveniences caused by the construction. The City has been proactive about meeting with affected stakeholders, and they even have an interactive map online, but that doesn’t completely make up for the ongoing issues.

North LRT to NAIT Construction

Closures might mean a slightly different route for motorists or a few extra minutes of travel time, but the impact on pedestrians is often much larger. Closed sidewalks can mean large detours into unfamiliar and poorly marked territory. When it’s cold out, a few extra minutes in a vehicle isn’t such a big deal but for a pedestrian it can be (and that makes jaywalking an attractive option). You’re also much more likely to find signs for vehicles than you are for pedestrians. Other issues include construction noise and, thanks to our up-and-down weather, treacherous and messy conditions.

North LRT to NAIT Construction

The new extension is slated to open in April 2014. Short-term pain, long-term gain!

The Central Station LRT Rehabilitation is a renewal rather than an extension. It will repair issues with the roof and ensure the station is functional for years to come. The City is also taking the opportunity to make streetscape improvements to Jasper Avenue between 100 and 102 Street. I work in the Empire Building at Jasper Avenue and 101 Street, which is basically ground zero for the project (and there’s also the First & Jasper construction right across the avenue).

Central LRT Station Construction

The construction team has been good at keeping everyone in the area up-to-date, with notices in the mail and electronic updates delivered through our property manager. That doesn’t mean the daily maze is any less annoying, however. I try to go through the back of the building to avoid the mess altogether, but every few days I need to use the front entrance for some reason, and determining how to navigate through the ever-changing array of fences gets old fast. There’s always construction noise to deal with too, though thankfully there have only been a few occasions when it has been disruptive.

Central LRT Station Construction

I know that travelling down 101 Street for vehicles sucks because traffic moves so much slower through the construction, but at worst you’re looking at a few minutes of delay. Compare that to the impact on pedestrians. Walking from the Empire Building to Scotia Place used to take a few seconds, we’re talking probably 30 steps or so. Now because of the fencing and detours, it takes probably ten times that! That’s a significant impact (though a little extra walking never hurt anyone).

The project isn’t expected to be complete until October 2013. Short-term pain, long-term gain!