#MeetMeDowntown at Coffee Bureau

“I didn’t choose downtown, downtown chose me.” 

Peter West used to work as an urban planner for the City of Edmonton. One day, as he was cycling along Jasper Avenue, he noticed a tiny spot for lease near 105 Street. It was the perfect location for a coffee shop, he thought. 

A few months later, he left his job to open Coffee Bureau with his wife, Cristiane Tassinari, in 2015. Peter wanted to contribute to the vibrancy of downtown from the floor of his own shop, not a cubicle. 

 “We are a community café,” says Peter. “The community that we interact with is the workforce—and this brings in people from the entire city. They share stories of what’s happening in their lives and that’s what gets our juices flowing. I feel proud of having a soulful coffee shop in the soul of the city.” 

Here are five of his fave downtown destinations: 

Lattés and bagels

Over the past eight years, Coffee Bureau (10505 Jasper Avenue) has become a beloved spot for lattés, pastries, St. Viateur bagels from Montreal, and conversation. 

In 2022, Yelp named Peter’s place one of the top coffee shops in Canada. “It instantly doubled business,” he says. “It really pumped our tires after a devastating year.” 

Coffee Bureau’s chairs add a pop of colour to Jasper Avenue.

Go with the flow 

The 102 Avenue Bike Route extends from Glenora to Churchill Square (or 97 Street). Peter uses it to get to work from his home in Oliver.

“I like biking and so do my customers,” he says. “Bike lanes encourage the flow of people and what Edmonton needs more of is flow.”

Cyclists heading east along the 102 Avenue Bike Route in downtown Edmonton.

Rock out 

The bike route also goes by Rice Howard Way, which is where you’ll find a 22-foot granite sculpture with a small conifer at the top. 

It’s called The Big Rock—it weighs 62 tonnes—and was designed by local sculptors Catherine Burgess and Sandra Bromley. “I like the proportion,” says Peter.  “I like how it feels. I also kind of like that they have to keep replanting the tree every few years. Meanwhile, the ones on the roof of Manulife Place are going strong.” 

It’s also steps away from one of his favourite restaurants—Rosewood Foods. “It has the best breakfast, lunch, brunch,” he says. “Lovingly made, family owned.” 

The Big Rock sits in the middle of Rice Howard Way as Edmontonians line up for lunch at a hot dog stand.

Indoor oasis 

The Citadel, 9828 101A Avenue, is one of Canada’s top venues for live theatre. It also boasts a tropical oasis in the heart of downtown—the Lee Pavilion Winter Garden. “I love that place,”  says Peter.

He’s also fond of the pavilion’s design, by Barton Myers, which features glass and exposed aggregate concrete. You’ll find those same materials in another one of Peter’s favourite buildings—the Edmonton Convention Centre, 9797 Jasper Avenue. It was designed by the late architect B. James Wensley, who started his career in Edmonton.

“It doesn’t matter how many fancy new buildings you have, you’ll never duplicate the texture, feel and emotion that you get when you interact with those places,” says Peter. “They feel monumental.” 

The lush greenery of the Lee Pavilion Winter Garden.

Summer splash 

For something cozier, there’s Stopgap Coffee, 9747 111 Street, a tiny coffee shop in an historic brick home. Co-owner Caleb Kan used to be one of Peter’s employees. “Super cool spot,” he says. 

Stopgap is steps away from the river valley and a few blocks from the Legislature Grounds, where Peter takes his two young daughters. “They like playing in the fountains [in the plaza of the Federal Building],” he says.  

Caleb Kan prepares a chai latte at Stopgap Coffee.

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows Peter West, co-owner of Coffee Bureau, behind the counter of his shop on June 29, 2023.