October 8, 2014 by Beans Ahoy
Instead of Chief Bean today we bring you a review from the Coffee Bear in Calgary.
While we normally visit London or UK based coffee shops we have today visited Phil and Sebastian in Calgary. For those of you who live in a cave, that’s in Canada. The company was, as the name suggests, started by Phil and Sebastian serving the public since March 2007. The good thing about this coffee shop is they roast their own coffee so they are able to control every aspect of the coffee from green bean to cup.
Now to my visit. They got the order wrong, oops, not a good start. Having ordered a flat white and a dry cappuccino the flat white arrive in 5 minutes but the dry cappuccino didn’t arrive at all. Eventually the cappuccino arrived and was not really dry, but acceptable. The flat white was nicely made with a smooth thick velvet milk. The first taste was smooth and rich with all the characteristics of a good Guatemalan coffee. I mention Guatemala as I was confused by the coffee as it cooled. It fell flat, the bold tastes and smooth texture all disappeared and I was left with a very mediocre weak coffee with no character. I was sure this was one of last season’s Guatemalan coffees. I asked the barista and he informed me it was Panamanian! Now that was a surprise as Phil and Sebastien get their Panamanian coffee from The Carmen Estate, one of Panamas better and more consistent farms. Carlos at Carmen will tell you that his coffee has the following characteristics: “complex aromatic profile with hints of caramel, honey, fruit, toasted grains and chocolate. A well balanced cup; bright tangy acidity fades toward a sweet clean after taste.” While I ordered a flat white I should still find some of the above characteristics in the cup. I didn’t.
The dry cappuccino, as mentioned above, was not really dry but this did not detract from a well made cappuccino with the correct amount of coffee/milk/foam. The milk did tend towards a flat white texture, not a bad thing, and was a fine drink. Much the same can be said for the flat white as for the cappuccino, but again when cooled slightly its flavours flattened out and lost taste but maintained texture. The temperature of both drinks could be increased slightly. While we don’t want it boiling, we do not want tepid either.
While this may be read as a criticism of Phil and Sebastian Coffee shop, it shouldn’t be but rather observations and as always my personal view of the coffee served. Taking all the foregone into account, Phil and Sebastian serve far better coffee in Calgary than anyone else I have tried. It is streets ahead of the big chains, in fact one should not mention the chains in the same sentence as Phil and Sebastian, they are certainly educating Calgary coffee drinkers and weaning North American’s off the burnt rubber tasting coffee by-the-gallon they so love.