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Slo Coffee Aiming to Bring a New Pace to the Fraserhood by Summertime

By late spring or early summer, Fraser Street is expected to welcome Slo Coffee – a new café inspired by the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi and the universal desire to just slow the fuck down.

Wabi-sabi, a key concept in Japanese philosophy, combines wabi, which is about finding beauty in simplicity, with sabi, the appreciation of graceful aging. It’s all about admiring imperfection and transience; and seeing elegance in the modest, rustic and even the decayed. This beauty is revealed to the beholder who is able to slow down enough to notice it in common objects, the way the light falls, or nature. With this concept as their reference, Slo plans to turn their simple storefront at 4160 Fraser (formerly a tile shop) into a place of calm, and a sanctuary for community.

To do this, first-time owners Colin Lai and Paul Irwin – with an assist from Calgary’s Little Giant Architecture & Interiors Studio for design, and Loki Creative for seriously tight branding – are leaning into the wabi-sabi aesthetic by way of uncluttered surfaces, natural materials, and open, airy feeling via a sweet curved wall-to-ceiling transition that, altogether, they hope will create space for reflection, connection, and the uncomplicated enjoyment pausing for a good cup of coffee.

Slo Coffee has two doors along Fraser street: the north door will serve as the entrance, while the south door will be designated for exiting. This arrangement is intended to streamline foot traffic, creating a smooth flow from one door to the other and minimizing congestion. The space utilizes its 1400 square foot area to incorporate a retail section, several cozy booths crafted from American cherrywood, and a prominently featured coffee bar. In total, the cafe will provide 16 seats: a few adorable ‘not-quite two-person’ booths along the north wall, a south wall configuration of benches paired with small, round tables, and two window nooks flooded with natural light, creating an overall feeling of tranquility. The walls (currently white) are set to be transformed with a slightly darker, rustic ‘wash’, further contributing to the cafe’s calm and inviting atmosphere.

The food program will include baked goods alongside a menu of toasts and sandwiches, but the real focus will be the beverages. Cafe Manager, Adam Gold (previously Novella), explains: “There will be all manner of espresso-based drinks, a pour-over program, and batch brews, as well as some seasonal and signature drinks”. Although the team will be working with beans from a local roastery to begin, the long-term goal is to eventually roast their own. Besides coffee drinks, there will also be green, black and herbal teas available.

Co-owner Paul Irwin’s vision for Slo Coffee is clear: “We want everyone who comes into Slo Coffee to feel at ease and welcomed, like they’re part of something special…Slo Coffee is a concept and space based around time; a gentle reminder to embrace the unhurried ritual of sipping coffee, and to slow down and appreciate the present moment. In a world that often seems to whirl by in a blur, we believe in the life-affirming necessity of taking and making time.” From what I saw during my walk-through of the space earlier this week, the team is on track to realize their goal when they finally open doors (seven days per week!) in late spring / early summer.

Stay tuned for news of an official opening date. And, in the meantime, scroll through the pictures below to get a better a sense of the space and its vibe:

  • Slo Coffee Co-Owner Paul Irwin outside of his under construction Fraserhood Cafe
    Slo Coffee Co-Owner Paul Irwin outside of his under construction Fraserhood Cafe
  • East side of Fraser Street, 1/2 block South of King Edward
    East side of Fraser Street, 1/2 block South of King Edward
  • Two doors / more flow
    Two doors / more flow
  • Calming curves and cozy seating at Slo Coffee
    Calming curves and cozy seating at Slo Coffee
  • Opening team standing in what will be their counter service area
    Opening team standing in what will be their counter service area
  • Serene seating
    Serene seating
  • Adam Gold (Shop Manager); Co-owners Paul Irwin and Colin Lai
    Adam Gold (Shop Manager); Co-owners Paul Irwin and Colin Lai
  • Slo Coffee Co-Owners Colin Lai and Paul Irwin; Cafe Manager, Adam Gold
    Slo Coffee Co-Owners Colin Lai and Paul Irwin; Cafe Manager, Adam Gold
  • Wide angle view of minimalist design
    Wide angle view of minimalist design
  • Curves and light
    Curves and light
  • Facing toward street.
    Facing toward street.
  • Papered windows, branding by Loki
    Papered windows, branding by Loki
  • Under construction
    Under construction

Slo Coffee
Neighbourhood: Fraserhood
4160 Fraser St.
(Opening soon)

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