Information is at our fingertips. We seek and obtain instant knowledge about navigation, weather forecasts, and the news; in fact, virtually no facet of everyday life escapes the influence of this hyper-aware age of information. The food industry is not exempt: consumers want to know where their meat was raised and how it was slaughtered, how far fruits and vegetables have travelled to the grocery store, whether their fish was captured through sustainable practices and if their grains were subjected to herbicides. This abundance of information underscores the backstory of what we eat. Coffee is an especially storied beverage, given recent emphasis on fair trade and sustainable farming practices. This tale of travel and the genesis of the coffee beans used are the cornerstone of Credo.
Credo, which opened in June of 2009, occupies a well-lit nook on a recently reinvented stretch of 104 Street. Natural light streams in through the tall windows, casting diffuse light on the consistently full chairs and stools. A small team of baristas moves swiftly behind the counter, foaming milk for cappuccino and plating fragrant baked goods. Credo founder Geoff Linden has always loved coffee, and his interest in java progressed to visiting high-end coffee shops in Vancouver and identifying the relative paucity of similar venues in Edmonton. He contemplates the crowd of coffee quaffers and remarks, “This is my hobby gone wild. Coffee was always an interest, and I finally decided it was time to make it a reality.”
Linden's dream-turned-reality is part of the grand facelift of 104 st, a downtown block between Jasper Ave and 102 Ave. It is an urbane, pedestrian-friendly area that features salons, eco-friendly shops and wine bars. “This street has really come together,” remarks Linden, “and Credo fits this neighbourhood. We are all independent, Edmonton-owned businesses, and we support each other.” He adds that the downtown farmers' market provides Credo with additional pedestrian traffic.
Linden gained knowledge of the coffee industry at Wicked Café in Vancouver, a city he cites as Canada's coffee capital. He notes, though, that one can never be fully trained and that skill acquisition is an ongoing process. Credo's arsenal of equipment includes a La Marzocco espresso machine imported from Italy. “It is the best on the market,” Linden explains, “it gives you fine-scale control of temperature, pressure and so forth.” Drip coffee is made one cup at a time because, Linden states, “It's the simplest method and that way nothing sits around.”
All the coffee at Credo is sourced from Intelligentsia, a Chicago-based company that pioneered direct trade—interacting with farmers directly instead of with importers and exporters. “We use Intelligentsia beans because their first criteria are quality and sustainability,” explains Linden. He adds, “We retail Intelligentsia coffee as well. Shipments arrive once a week and sell out quickly.”
The general populace typically categorizes coffee flavour according to roast: light, dark, French, etc. Linden shuns this method of categorization and remarks, “Describing a coffee according to a roast indicates the flavour of the roast, rather than that of the bean. We want to describe the full flavour of the bean itself.” Hence, Credo provides a wealth of information about its beans: origin, harvest date and roast date. “We aren't just giving a 'best before' date,” says Linden, “because the customer deserves much more information. This illustrates the relationship we've built with Intelligentsia and with coffee growers themselves.”
Indeed, the wealth of information contained in Credo's coffee beans expresses itself as a fragrant, multi-faceted, rich mug of joe that sings of tropical sun and fertile soil. Linden anticipates a journey to a coffee plantation. “I look forward to getting to know the producers more, and learning even more about the coffee-growing process.” He cherishes Credo's success and remarks, “We've been so fortunate. People have embraced what we've done. Working here, I see the best side of people. They are taking a coffee break, they are laughing and visiting. Interacting with customers is a highlight.”
The origin of the word 'credo' is thought to be Latin and literally means, “I believe.” Although this word tends to be used in a religious context, it also refers to any statement of belief or opinion. Linden has acted decisively on his belief that customers are entitled to the finest coffee available. Credo is the embodiment of this belief, and embodies the culinary “age of information.” V
10134 – 104 St, 780.761.3744