Let’s say you’re in Cochrane, Alberta, and you want a coffice space with a bit more of a “western” feel. And by “western” I mean stereotypical Alberta heritage. A building made of rough-hewn logs. A crackling fireplace in the cold months. A door that creaks and bangs as it swings to let the weather in. But also all the rest of that ski-lodge feeling: a high A-frame ceiling with a loft second storey – seating as many people upstairs as down. Farther from the fire, but hot air rises, you know.
That’s when you come to the original coffice space in Cochrane, Coffee Traders, a place my dad has come to on an almost daily basis for two decades. Grab your beverage of choice, clomp up the stairs, park yourself at a table in the loft, and join the laptop labourers and chatting couples.
This place is always at least a little busy. It’s in the heart of Cochrane, and it’s a meeting place. You see a representative sample of Cochrane’s denizens: everyone has appropriate outdoor jackets, most people are wearing jeans, some are in cotton button-ups, some are in technical gear for climbing or running, many are in sweatshirts or hoodies. The building looks like it’s made for hitching horses to, but you will not see any horses. Or cowboy boots or ten-gallon hats, for that matter. Look, you’re in the part of the planet where they shot The Revenant. I mean literally: a lot of the locations were a short drive from here, mostly towards the mountains, which you’re in the foothills of here. You’re also in a near exurb of a modern city of a million people. And it’s the 21stcentury.
Not everyone in Cochrane comes here or to The Gentry to get coffee, of course. There are other places, mainly chains like McDonald’s and A&W and Tim Hortons and even that Seattle-based global espresso pusher. But it’s a town of 26,000 people – it could be a city but it doesn’t want the added burden of that level of incorporation. It’s where Alberta foothills city meets Alberta foothills country, and if you’re visiting, this is what you’re here for. This and the cute shops on the main drag and all the outdoorsy stuff. And MacKay’s Ice Cream.
And if you’re here visiting family and need to get some work done in a place where you can see but not have to talk to the daily stream of people, this is a place you can go. It’s warm and welcoming. Especially if you’re not too close to that door.