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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Two Cowboys: Remembering Mum's Kitchen at Home Ground Coffee and Roasting House with Rebel Bean Coffee, Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Cinnamon and Coffee

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There are two distinct smells that I remember from my childhood in my Mum's kitchen. Cinnamon and coffee. Cinnamon made it into the hot, soft, sticky, cream cheese frosted rolls. Freshly brewed coffee was right beside it. The first thing of focus in the morning.

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Thanks to Wikipedia we know that a cinnamon roll is a sweet roll served commonly in Northern Europe and North America. In North America, its common use is for breakfast or dessert. Its main ingredients are flour, cinnamon, sugar, and butter, which provide a robust and sweet flavour.

In some places, it is eaten as a breakfast food and is often served with cream cheese or icing. History tells us that Sweden is to thank for the creation of this delectable treat. Swedish dough typically also contains cardamom (powder or buds), giving it a distinctive flavour. Canada takes a lot of pride in its versions of the cinnamon bun, possibly because of its Nordic heritage. No matter where you are in Canada, you are guaranteed to find some variety. Whichever variety you do get, the best way to eat them is as fresh as can be. Preferably, right out of the oven.

If you are in Okotoks, Alberta, and you can make your way down Elizabeth Street (old Main Street) towards North Railway Street, you will find a very, very small establishment on your left named Home Ground Coffee and Roasting House. Here they make several batches of buns by hand every day to ensure that customers get their cinnamon buns as fresh as possible.

Home Ground is a tiny kitchen that just so happens to also have a few chairs for patrons. It is probably the closest you will get to mum's kitchen stocked with buns, soups, and other pastries to get you through your day. People come for the buns. They also come for the great coffee. If the building is not small enough for a kitchen and a few chairs, they've managed to squeeze in a single origin coffee roaster by the name of Rebel Bean Coffee.


Home Ground is a busy place. Heather van Aalst, the owner and her team of helpers, are jumping to get the food out for the day's patrons. Mornings are the busiest as people step in for their Rebel Bean coffee fix and a cinnamon bun. It is the kind of place where they know your name. No drive-through here. The coffee is real, so is the food and the people.

One person in the kitchen is dedicated to only making the famous cinnamon buns. As soon as the first batch leaves the door, the second batch goes into the oven. At around 10:00 when it is tea-time, they are already on batch number eight! The day continues.

Late morning Kerri Ann Colby, the rebel from Rebel Bean Coffee fires up the roaster and the aroma's of freshly roasted coffee lingers down Main Street Okotoks. It is a magnet for downtown folk.

At lunch, you can have freshly baked bread and soup. Everything is home-made right in front of you in the tiny kitchen. After work, you can step in for your wine and beer. Yes, you heard it right. This is a kitchen that goes the extra mile. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and sundowner.

We wanted to know from Kerri Ann, why she named her roastery "Rebel Bean"? In every batch, she explained, there is one single bean that inexplicably doesn’t roast. That bean is among the thousands in each batch that is exposed heat of more than 200°C. Every other lost a good deal of its moisture, lost a percentage of its natural caffeine, and its sugars have caramelised to darken its colour. Except for one. This one bean seemingly flips the bird at chemistry and does not roast. She found one in every batch and termed it, the Rebel Bean. There is a little jar of rebel beans on the shelf in the room where she roasts at Home Ground. The name stuck. It became the personality for the brand and its customers.

Home Ground and Rebel Bean both have tonnes of personality. It is a combination that works. It has energy. Busyness. It is the kind of place you look for in every town. The place where they know your name, and you get a great coffee with an awesome cinnamon bun, that was roasted and baked by the people of the town that morning.

The Two Cowboys & A Camera never drives past Home Ground. It is our people. Please join us in supporting our locals.

Hendrik van Wyk
Rebel Cowboy

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Yes We Do

Busy, Busy

Okotoks' Coffee

Rebel Beans 
Hmmmm, Aaaaahh

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