Caffe Artigiano, Calgary

Over the past eight years, Caffè Artigiano has built a reputation and loyal following in Vancouver for its outstanding coffee and beautiful cappuccinos and lattes. Now, it’s taking Calgary — the first expansion outside of Vancouver where there are six locations — by storm.

Because I don’t work downtown, I’ve only visited Caffè Artigiano on the weekends. You know it’s not just hype when the place is filling on up at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, after being open for just over a month now.

This place takes their coffee seriously, armed with a Clover system that brews one cup at a time and a shiny red La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine. (I don’t really know what that means, but it’s pretty.)

I’m not a coffee expert, but I know I don’t like it cold, burnt, bland, or overpriced. Those definitely don’t happen at Artigiano; even better, they design patterns with the foam and espresso on every cappuccino and latte. I just know my tall lattes ($3.79) are always warm and yummy.

Caffe Artigiano, Calgary

I was actually blown away by Artigiano’s sandwiches, toasted just so. I’m salivating just thinking about the roasted leg of lamb panino ($8.49) on sundried tomato bread, cilantro aioli and roasted red peppers. I’ve never seen lamb sliced thin like that. So very good.

We’ve also tried the chicken and brie panino ($8.49) on ciabatta with fig jam and spinach. I always like a hearty sandwich with real chunks of meat and not that processed sliced sandwich loaf stuff.

Caffe Artigiano, Calgary

The chain was started by two brothers, one of them a three-time Canadian barista champion who still trains and coaches staff. They sold their business to a former Earl’s Restaurant executive last year but continue to own a roasting plant that supplies Artigiano with coffee beans.

Their 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters is the only Canadian company to successfully bid on Hacienda La Esmeralda Especial from Panama, which has been called “the world’s best coffee,” and roasts it exclusively for Artigiano. A half-pound bag sells for about $135; you can try a cup yourself for $15.

Caffè Artigiano, Centrium Building, 332-6th Ave. SW, Calgary, (403) 699-9855.
Open Mon. to Wed. 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs. and Fri. 6 a.m.-7 p.m., weekends 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Website here.