Sarahicardenas
Artist. Performer. Designer
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The coffee haunt

The ever lasting journey into finding the coziest, most bohemian and trendiest coffee shops.

The flat white

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Flat whites are like a spotlight for a double shot of espresso. It was a beautiful and sunny -4 degrees Sunday that it most certainly felt like - 12. As we were on our way to the school of the National Ballet, some wild tiny snowflakes would hit our eyes from time to time. Alice was gonna be here for only a week, so I decided to walk her all the way to the Alberta Ballet audition and find myself a comfy and warm coffee shop until she was done. Oh boy, how glad I am to be over the whole auditioning part of my life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the bohemian artist life its beautiful and fulfilling to the soul, but at this point in my life, so is a nice cup of coffee and maybe a tasty croissant to have with. We got off at Collage Station and since we were downtown I supposed there would be hundreds of coffee shops to choose from. To my surprise, there was this only one called Black Bear Espresso. Which, I have to say, from the outside it looks just like any other coffee shop, but what really got me to step inside was the lovely chalkboard outside with a very smiley To-go coffee cup and the word “hugs” written on it (I don’t actually know what the sign actually said).

As I stepped inside, everything seemed right to my personal taste. A couch, nicely displayed pastries and of course, a huge window were you could sit all day to watch people pass and snow fall. Some industrial style lights mixed with a chandelier and a few art pieces made by local artists gave this place a cozy home/gallery feeling that is always appreciated. From the very first second I felt comfortable enough to make myself at home, with the background tunes of Celeste by Ezra Vines this place was just the little perfect and warm oasis I was craving for.

Since I am very determined to learn about coffee I approached the barista and asked for his recommendation.
- Do you want caffeine or not (seemed an absurd question to me but then again I’m always up for a good Chai)
- Yes please, I would like something strongish.
- Milk? No Milk? Sugar?
- Yes Milk. No Sugar
- How would you like a flat white?

Never have I ever tried or even heard of such a thing. Apparently they do serve it at Starbucks, but as I am not a big fan of them since I discover the whole Macchiato fiasco, I don’t shop there anymore. Owned by Australian brother and sister, its no surprise they have drinks like this one. Some people describe the flat white as a smaller latte. Some say its just a stronger Cappuccino. To me, it tasted a bit like Café con Leche, a much nicer one of course. Made with a double shot of espresso, steam milk and little to no foam, it’ a drink that enhances the flavor of the espresso by framing it with velvet microfoam. Despite being only 6oz I was extremely satisfied considering that just that morning I had made a 16oz mug to bring to work. According to some research, some coffee shops might offer different sizes of it. Apparently there’s a lot of controversy between Aussies, Kiwis and the oh so dear American fellows. Anyways, like my barista said that day, the secret for a perfect flat white relies on the perfect balance in the espresso to milk ratio. Not too hot milk is the real secret he said.

I spent the whole evening talking to the barista as much as I could, luckily the shop was not to busy that day. He was really nice and patient to a newbie like me. Besides explaining the whole flat white process, he was also telling me how there are some size specific drinks and how some of them are specific to where they are serve, like the Gibraltar. This being one big time favorite among baristas around the world. Which makes me think, maybe I should start interviewing baristas on their most favorite caffeine drinks, I bet they have some interesting stories about it. After a while, Alice came back from her audition with some good news and I realized I had been talking to him for over two hours! Dancing days might be over, but it’s in well-spent days like this, meeting amazing and interesting hard working people, that I see how the true adventure is just starting.

I hope you all liked this story, again, feedback and sharing are always appreciated. If you have a cool coffee place or any advice on where to go, what to try and who to meet please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Until next week!