If there’s one thing that’s easy to agree on, it’s this: coffee and tea taste better in nature. Maybe it’s the fresh mountain air that hones our appreciation for the little things, the moments of anticipation en route to an adventure with the morning flavour in hand, or the sense of calm as we wind down with a warm cup and reflect on our day. Our choice of brew is weaved throughout our outdoor experiences, and here are some of the best ways to do so in Banff National Park.
Refuel on your Lake Louise adventures
A visit to Laggan's Mountain Bakery and Deli is the cherry (or should we say glacier?) on top of exploring the epicentre of Banff National Park. Everyone from awe-struck visitors to dirt-and-grin-smeared hikers bump shoulders in this buzzing bakery. Cool down from your day getting up high with an iced coffee, and be sure to try out their signature health cookie – you’ll get to indulge, and feel good about it too!
The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House requires little extra legwork, but it’s well worth the effort! You’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Starting at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the classic Plain of Six Glaciers hike brings you along a beautifully scenic trail for up close views of Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria, and Victoria Glacier. Once you reach the teahouse, rest and soothe your muscles with a cup of their very own herbal blend – a little floral, a little fruity, with hints of mint – as you soak in well-earned views from the rustic teahouse balcony. Don't want to hike? You can enjoy a guided horse ride on this trail with Brewster Adventures to enjoy the views from the saddle.
Grab lunch, a cup, and a catch up with friends
With locations in both Banff and Canmore, JK Bakery has been putting cups of morning goodness in the Bow Valley’s hands since 1994. This little gem can be overlooked on the less busy Bear Street but is well worth a visit for a mid-day lunch break from the bustle of Banff. And your wallet will like it too! Their flat white is the perfect velvety combo of milk and freshly ground espresso sourced from Canmore-based Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters. Stay awhile longer and make it an excellent cap to any of their soup and sandwich combos, crafted with generosity and locally made artisan bread. The mountains have a tendency to work up an appetite in endless ways, and JK Bakery is the perfect remedy.
Soak in some mountain air and sunshine
Whitebark Café is a relatively new addition to the tea and coffee scene in Banff National Park, and it quickly developed a quality rep with both Banffites and visitors. The stacked bike rack and constant stream of caffeine-seeking souls can attest to that! But don’t let it scare you off. Though quaint in size, this cafe boasts a spacious, sunny patio with mountain views - a go-to meeting spot for alpine start hikes and afternoon catch-ups alike. Bathe in some morning sunshine with an almond-based matcha latte in hand. Your body and mind will love soaking in the antioxidants and dose of Vitamin D. It’s great on ice, too!
Wild Flour Bakery is another great location to soak in Banff’s mountain town vibe. Located in the sunny Bison Courtyard with café tables and benches abound, the patio atmosphere is sure to nourish quality conversation as you savour a quality cup. Their chai tea latte (made with the good stuff, no syrup!) will do nicely. Or, stop by their new convenient location - Little Wild – right on Banff Ave for a grab-and-go selection. Try out their hot chocolate with a stroll along the Bow River, as the mountain air cools for the evening.
Stock up for your next backcountry trip
Of course, the best place to enjoy a cup of brew is on the mountains themselves. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better feeling than starting your day immersed in nature, warming from the inside out with the landscape itself, as the sun pours over the peaks. Whether getting up for a sunrise Tunnel hike or packing for an overnight at Abbot Hut, Banff has many great options to prep your pack for these key morning moments. Just don’t forget to pre-grind!
If espresso is an essential, pack the AeroPress with Banff Roasting Company’s ‘Mt. Rundle Roast’s organic espresso blend, a spicy yet sweet flavour with notes of chocolate and honey. It also works great with a simple cone filter system. For those who like to keep it light or wind down with a nightcap, try out a blend from Banff Tea Co. The Sweet Dreams of Banff tea will help aid your restful sleep against any noisy camp-mates, and their Crème Au Caramel Rooibos is basically liquefied dessert.
Be good to your national park and your planet, and bring your own travel mug to top up on your mountain exploration fuel.