Finding a good place to study can be difficult, but Iconoclast Coffee Roaster offers a great way to change up your study routine and caffeinate in the process. Located behind Oliver Square, Iconoclast showcases an open space that’s great for extended concentration.
There’s always a lot going on at the coffee shop, but students are welcome to come and sit down for as long as they need.
“I think (the ambiance) lends itself to an environment where people who are working or studying can come isolate themselves in the sort of busyness and loudness of the space, and focus on what they’re doing,” says Ryan Arcand, Iconoclast’s owner. “It also affords people something to look at, something to (help them) take a break from the work.”
If you do in fact want to take a break from studying, you can use the coffee shop’s free Ping-Pong table. You can also rest your brain by observing the inner workings of the coffee house.
Coffee roasting is not just part of the name at Iconoclast. It’s a common occurrence to see small batches of raw coffee beans being roasted in the large drum roaster in the centre of the shop. This is one thing that differentiates Iconoclast from many of the other locally owned coffee shops.
The coffee is roasted by dropping green coffee beans into the turning drum filled with hot air. The beans take between 10 and 15 minutes to roast. The time varies because certain types of coffee take longer than others — dark coffees, like espresso, roast for longer than lighter ones, like blonde roasts. After the beans have cooled, they’re ready to be brewed or packaged for sale.
The shop offers a large variety of coffees, all roasted in-house. Arcand says he sources raw beans from all over the world and regularly brings in new kinds for a constantly evolving coffee menu. Iconoclast doesn’t adhere to fair trade standards as they’re something that’s not always found through the coffee supplier Arcand uses.
“Customers are looking for (fair trade coffee). That’s something we’ve done in the past. In the past, I was a rainforest alliance certified roaster, but I just let it expire basically. I’ve never really taken an interest in fair trade, or organic for that matter,” Arcand says.
Arcand runs Iconoclast’s business in a way that, according to him, “loosely relates” to the meaning of the word iconoclast, or someone who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. The baking is done in-house and from scratch, the shop’s bags are screen-printed by hand, and the packaging is made from sustainable, recyclable, and compostable materials. Arcand also makes sure to pay all his staff living wages and refuses to advertise or conform to the standards of branding.
“Our approach to business, as well as the coffee industry, is outside of the mainstream, and a lot of the principles that we try and operate under are opposed to what third-wave mainstream coffee roasters are doing,” Arcand says.
This particular approach comes from Arcand’s belief that modern media outlets ignore major environmental issues. Because of this, Arcand feels it is best to avoid advertising and traditional media altogether so as to draw attention to these issues.
“Of course conforming is necessary, especially in a business. You need to survive and pay bills and pay your staff, so this isn’t a non-conformist position,” Arcand says. “It’s us trying to do what we can with the limited impact and resources we have that remains consistent with what I would call intelligent, or wise, self-governance.”
Because of the lack of advertising, finding the store can be a little difficult as there are no signs indicating where Iconoclast actually is. However, if you see a large amount of coffee being consumed in a symbol-less building, you’re probably in the right spot. Students who want to spend time studying in a coffee shop can find a befitting, albeit eccentric, environment at Iconoclast Coffee Roaster.
In a hurry? Iconoclast makes bagels in-house and from scratch and pairs them with cream cheese. The bagels are familiar but are something a little different from chain
Iconoclast roasts a variety of small batch coffee beans in-house. The coffee menu is constantly rotating so you have to keep checking back to find your new favourite.
Photography by Matthew Jacula.
11807 105 Ave.
Open Monday to Sunday.