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Calgary’s newest cafe is small on space but big on community

By Liv Ingram, September 11 2014 —

Bigger isn’t always better ­­ ­­­­­­­­­­— just ask Jessica McCarrel, owner of Calgary’s smallest specialty coffee shop, Kaffeeklatsch.

Located inside a former pantry in the Community Wise Resource Centre, Kaffeeklatsch is a modest 25 square feet, just big enough for McCarrel, an espresso machine and not much else.

“It’s built very streamlined, pretty sparse, so it could easily be taken down and moved elsewhere,” says McCarrel, adding that the espresso machine is on a wheeled cart that has its own self-contained plumbing system. “It is meant to be mobile and engage multiple communities and be this social connector that can travel around and spark conversations.”

This desire to create connections is reflected in the cafe’s name. The word ‘kaffee’ is German for coffee, and ‘klatsch’ means conversation or gossip.

After working with the Calgary Society for Independent Filmmakers, who are also tenants in Community Wise, McCarrel saw the need for a communal space where those working with the other non-profits could come together.

“[Community Wise] in particular is such a wonderful communal space and sparks a lot of interesting collaborations and social movements,” says McCarrel. “I thought it needed a coffee shop to allow people, in the course of their days to come and have a break.”

In addition to promoting community within the building, McCarrel says she hopes Kaffeeklatsch will encourage more people to come to Community Wise and get involved with the different organizations and events that happen there.

To support the organizations that call Community Wise home, McCarrel says she plans to donate one per cent of the cafe’s sales back to the Resource Centre regardless of where the cafe travels.

In addition to its small space, Kaffeeklatsch features a small nine-item menu divided into three categories — black, white or tea — the first two based on whether or not patrons want milk in their coffee or not. This approach is meant to take the guesswork out of complicated coffee shop menus and make coffee more accessible.

Accessibility is at the forefront of Kaffeeklatsch’s participation in the caffee sospeso (suspended coffee) movement.

“You can buy two coffees, one you keep and the other you give to someone else. The other goes to someone in need,” says McCarrel. “If you have a good day, then you’re lucky and you should pass on that luck.”

Kaffeeklatsch’s grand opening is Saturday, Sept. 13.

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