Ed Spot #1: Naked on Jasper Cyber & Espresso Bar

Downtown coffee bar is subtle, but charming in its own right

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

When I first walked into the Naked on Jasper Cyber & Espresso Bar I certainly didn't expect a nude barista serving cappucino behind the counter. In fact, I had no idea what was within the walls of this quaint "24-hour" coffee shop, located just feet away from the avenue's Wee Book Inn.

A trio of delinquent huggers (yes, huggers!) blocked the entrance, but I managed to find my way around them and quickly noticed the long, narrow area, furnished with small circular tables, no more than a dozen computers ($6/hr./ WiFi available for $3/hr.) and a small lounge area made up of three leather sofas. The couches were conveniently placed just askew of Naked's humble stage, which boasted an acoustic guitar, keyboards and a drum kit, though the stage is apparently also shared for art shows and poetry readings.

Behind the bar was an older gentleman with silver hair pulled back into a ponytail, stirring up fancy coffee drinks for awaiting customers, which were made up of all ages. Behind him was a collage of newspaper clippings, pencil drawings and photos of icons like Che Guevara, John Lennon and Barack Obama.

I helped myself to a regular coffee ($2) in a paper cup and found a seat next to the rustic brick wall that was filled with beautiful local (I assume) artwork that you could purchase at any time. Too expensive for my taste though. Mellow jazz music played on speakers throughout the cyber cafe, which has been operating in Edmonton for the last 13 years (eight in the current location, five on Whyte Ave.).

Finger foods and desserts are made readily available, but nothing more than that, which is to be expected from a building too tiny to hold a kitchen. Although advertising its 24-hour operation via a neon sign outside its doors, Naked has been known to close during early morning hours, depending perhaps on foot traffic and the economic bust.

A fancy hideaway for obscure clientele this is not, but Naked on Jasper is definetely a once-in-awhile getaway from all the chain shops that are spreading throughout town like a contagious disease.

The Rundown:
Location: 10354-Jasper Ave. NW
Edmonton, AB. T5J 1Y7
Phone: 780-425-9730
Hours: 24/7
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