There are times when I am deeply conflicted regarding telling others about hidden gems I have found in Fort McMurray. It's not that I don't like to share, but if you tell others then some day when you show up at your favourite restaurant they might not have a table for you, and what then? There are some places that just deserve special mention and are worth that risk, however. Today I'd like to focus on one of my very favourites. It's a virtual second home and my preferred blogging spot. Where? CoCo Jo's Coffee House in the Nomad Inn, people.
CoCo Jo's opened a couple of years ago, if I recall correctly. In a city with no true coffee shops aside from the ubiquitous Tim Horton's the opening of a coffee shop is a cause for celebration. No offense to all the Tim's fans, but it's not really a relaxing atmosphere in which to work or write, and, well, I don't like Tim's coffee (there, I said it out loud, and yes, I really am Canadian!). There is Starbucks, of course, but a Starbucks inside a grocery store isn't exactly the ideal place for peace and quiet, either.
I love CoCo Jo's for many reasons. For starters they have the best free wi-fi in the city. I can sit and write this blog there and post it effortlessly. In fact it's my favourite spot to write about the city as I find it easiest to connect with Fort Mac when I am out there in the middle of it. I can sit there and watch the city buses go by or the locals wander around. It puts me in the mood to write about the city, and the free wifi makes that so easy to do. That also means it's great for anyone who wants to connect for free.
I also happen to love their coffee. They are brewers of Cherry Hill Coffee, which is a coffee company out of Kelowna, BC. How great is it that our local coffee shop brews coffee roasted by a Canadian company? Cherry Hill roasts a fine bean, and I've been known to order beans from them just to have that coffee at home, too. They also have a wide variety of snacks and food available, too, and most of it is quite good (especially those blueberry scones, which represent an enormous daily temptation).
The staff at Coco Jo's are terrific. Over the past few months they've gotten to know me well, and they know exactly what I want (a large latte) and how I want it (no paper cups, ceramic mug, please). When they see me walk in the door they start pulling the espresso for my latte and I often have it before I've chosen a table. How awesome is that? They are also incredibly friendly, and just seeing them every day makes me smile.
They generally play pretty decent music, and often local radio which makes it even easier to come up with blog ideas. I often run into people I know there, and even when I don't know anyone it's the perfect place to study all the diverse characters that inhabit this crazy city.
So, Fort Mac, if you haven't done so already check out CoCo Jo's. If you've ever longed for that big-city coffee house feeling you can indeed find it right here at the Nomad Inn. Do me a favour, though - leave me a table, would ya?