German: Kaffee (Coffee)
A Kaffeeklatsch is a meeting between friends to exchange gossip over coffee. The term allegedly originated sometime around the 1900s, when German women would gather to drink coffee, eat cake, and chat.
Taking inspiration from this remarkable word, Jessica McCarrel created her cafe, Kaffeeklatsch: a place where both the coffee and the conversation matter.
Kaffeeklatsch serves notable coffee in unique and unexpected places to facilitate social connections. We are dedicated to offering extraordinary coffee for Calgarians to share and delight in.
Unlike the conventional cafe—which often serves no more purpose than a glorified take-out window or vending machine—Kaffeeklatsch encourages each coffee to become an invitation to chat.
Serving remarkable coffee out of places where it doesn’t normally exist provokes unique social interactions. It creates opportunities for new encounters and dialogue. Each new situation elicits different responses. At our best, we provide a platform for participation and honest communication. We are inspired to promote conviviality through the display and service of food and drink.
Founder and Owner Jessica Mccarrel
In August of 2014, owner/worker Jessica McCarrel took a 25 square-foot storage closet and transformed it into a bespoke coffee nook. The original Kaffeeklatsch—nestled within a non-profit social service building on 12 Ave SW—served extraordinary coffee in this unusual, unexpected space for two years.
Because of its small size, Kaffeeklatsch has always doubled as a mobile cafe. Jessica built an espresso cart to travel across Calgary and serve notable coffee in unique and surprising spaces, fostering social connections. With each new setting, we temporarily install the cafe using the existing conditions of the space. This tiny coffee shop, lodged into a small, often awkward location, invites interest as much as the aroma of coffee does. The unexpected nature of the cafe itself sparks conversation and connection.
Furthering both the mobile and unpredictable nature of Kaffeeklatsch’s pop-ups, Jessica created a cold brew coffee trike in June of 2015. This amazing cycle has appeared throughout downtown Calgary, serving exquisite cold brew coffee in the heat of summer.
Four years later, in August 2018, Kaffeeklatsch was approached by the management of the Cambrian Wellness Centre and asked to provide the building’s tenants with coffee and food. The building’s strange street location and the challenging layout of its lobby made sense for us. It was another interesting, unusual space to install a cafe.
We started serving tenants with our mobile coffee cart while the Centre built the kiosk. They completed the cafe space in mid-December, and Kaffeeklatsch now serves coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and soups in this permanent location.
This Centre is home to EFW Radiology, Regional Fertility Program, Rocky Mountain Health, and CBC/Radio-Canada, all of whom we serve weekdays from 7 am to 4 pm. Finding amazing coffee and food in a health complex is rare; we are delighted to share this experience with the engaging tenants and clients of the Cambrian Wellness Centre.
However, the Centre itself is in a difficult location for the public to access, and situated in such a manner that Kaffeeklatsch hasn't been able to build and support communities in the way that we dream of.
The Mobile Kaffeeklatsch
In the summer of 2020, we found the perfect additional home for a Kaffeeklatsch that is neither cart nor kiosk, but a lovely cafe space. A space located just a few blocks away from where we started at 1205 1st SW. This Beltline, Victoria Park area has a rich history in the social fabric of Calgary. Prior to being occupied by its current owner, Tokyo Smoke, it was the Bamboo Lounge space of the Drum ’n’ Monkey.
This small stretch of street is overflowing with the history of Calgary’s nightlife, as well as having played a prominent role in its music and art scenes. In the 1980s, the northern tip of this street formed part of Electric Avenue, the most notorious stretch of nightclubs in Canada at that point in time. At the south end of the block, the huge Castle Pub sat throughout the 1990s and early 2000s like a foundation, carrying the weight of the numerous clubs on the strip, places like Venom and the Night Gallery.
The Night Gallery is notable not only for being the birthplace of another Calgary institution, Tubby Dog, but for housing a giant, familiar statue for all of its nineteen years. Our restaurateur neighbours on this strip named themselves in honour of this famous statue: Ten Foot Henry.
It is in this Victoria Park neighbourhood, with its exciting cultural history and amazing small businesses, that Kaffeeklatsch built a place for the community Jessica knows and lives in. A place where we co-hosted engaging events with its residents.
In the two years that we operated in this Storefront we curated art, cultivated community, and collected accolades; all while navigating the uncertain and unpredictable aspects of opening a business during the Covid 19 Pandemic.
When we first opened our doors two Halloween's ago, we wanted to create an accessible, inclusive space-a place for community, creation and celebration. We also wondered if anyone would show up, let alone get what we were trying to accomplish.
But you did show up, and you became part of Kaffeeklatsch, and you became part of each other’s lives. Time & time again, you blew us away with your energy, creativity, and your boundless care for other people. You did a magnificent job of supporting us, and it’s not for lack of support that we’re forced to close our storefront.
Quite simply, we were outbid on the space, and unable to financially compete with the other party, despite September being the strongest month we’ve ever had. It’s that simple.
The silver lining: we know that Calgary needs these spaces. And we've spent the last two years trying to figure out how best to create diverse & inclusive space. We are absolutely not done yet, and we will be back.
Kiosk at the Cambrian Wellness Centre
2000 Veterans Pl NW