millet & honey banana bread {and pour over coffee}

honey and millet banana bread

As a proud Kiwi, there are a number of Canadian traits I don’t buy into. Don’t get me wrong –  Jesse and I love Canada. We truly do. We love the people, the welcomeness, the extreme weather, the opportunities for adventure. We take joy in adapting to the Canadian cultural norms, jokes and cuisine.

However there are some practices we have had to draw the line at.

the beginnings of banana bread

To mention a few…

– Kraft Dinner (and its beloved cousin, Hamburger Helper)
– Doggie bags for restaurant leftovers (don’t get me started!)
– Supersized everything (is it really a good bargain if you can’t fit your supersize Mayo in your fridge?)
– Not calling a spade a spade (are you really using that room to wash, or rest, or take a bath?)
– Tim Hortons. The worst of them all.


We had our first Tim Horton’s experience the moment we landed in Canada for the first time (two years ago today!). Having heard so much about Tim Horton’s coffee we naturally (ignorant Kiwi’s) assumed it was a top notch coffee roaster that had sent the Third Wave of coffee viral in North America.

We were terribly horrified a little disappointed on the first taste. Ylech! This is Canadian coffee?


millet and honey banana bread

And so we embarked on seeking out what New Zealanders consider a cafe experience – quality beans, roasted locally, ground perfectly and prepared by a qualified barista (commonly in the form of a Flat White) in a boutique cafe served (always with a teaspoon) alongside homemade scones or fresh muffins served with yogurt.

No paper plates, no neon OPEN signs, no artificially-flavoured, dairy-free, hyrdrogenated-oil based French Vanilla creamer, no deep-fried mass produced donuts.

pour over

Our first month, spent in Vancouver, was less than fruitful, not knowing anyone in the coffee industry or down which alleyways the boutique cafes were hiding. Our following 18 months in Norman Wells, NWT were no better, where the only cafe in town serving quality coffee beans was mine. And I am certainly no barista.

pour over
What a relief to move to Calgary and discover not only true cafe experiences, but outstanding local roasters, perfected espressos and award winning baristas.

Our two favourite roasters in Calgary (really the only two competitive ones) are Phil & Sebastian (roasted at the end of our street) and Rosso (roasted in the neighbouring community). We had Rosso’s Nicaraguan beans on hand this last weekend and a friend (who also happens to be a barista at Rosso) treated us to a lesson in pour over coffee.


A new experience for us, pour over has quickly become a favourite alternative to espresso. This Japanese-style method is quite the art, producing a coffee where the flower and the fruit of the bean can be easily depicted and appreciated.

pour over

While it snowed outside, we enjoyed our pour-over coffee in the comfort of our home, alongside warm banana bread fresh from the oven, studded with crunchy millet and sweetened with creamy honey. Home baked goods, like this crinkly banana bread leaves any Tim Horton’s donut in the dust.

banana bread with crackles

Honey & Millet Banana Bread
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Unfortunately out of the 8 or so cafes that serve good coffee in Calgary, few have nailed the food side of things. Most import baked goods from another bakery or an external kitchen, never will your carrot cake be served with raspberry coulis and natural yogurt and good luck finding a gourmet savoury muffin with a homemade chutney. Until this improves we are happy providing our own baking, de la casa.

3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
1/3 cup coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies, or olive oil
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup creamed honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Place mashed bananas in a large bowl. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then millet.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.

11 thoughts

  1. Hi Christina! Mmm Hmm I remember THC well and also begin very disappointed. Coming from NZ where coffee is a real art I actually gave up coffee while living in Canada…
    I spent a month visiting friends in Calgary and used to go this lovely little cafe in the back of a designer furniture store that served organic food and coffee. I can’t even remember its name or where it was – you know 12 years ago now – probably doesn’t exist anymore… but some little gems for sure to be found in the bigger cities.
    Love millet, I can imagine how delightful the little millet seeds would be.

    • Ooh I do wonder where that was! Nice to know those existed even back then. We are still on the prowl for more gems. I was surprised by how nutty the millet became – a delicious crunch in an otherwise super moist loaf.

  2. Yeah, being known as the country that prizes Tim Horton’s coffee (and their doughnuts? Blech!) isn’t exactly a flattering thing! I’m not a coffee drinker but I have noticed that there is a big trend in “boutique” cafes and coffee roasters over the last 5 years, so hopefully that means that as a nation our taste is improving 😉 (And I’m surprised you didn’t find any good coffee in Vancouver – given all the hipsters that live there, I would think that there would be a decent coffee shop on every corner!)

    • Haha well, on a return trip to Vancouver we were better equipped and were able to find some – plus an excellent hole-in-the-wall espresso bar in Victoria too! The Third Wave (espresso) is definitely moving through North America, a little behind NZ and Australia. Who knows if this will influence the mega industry of chain-coffee-shops…

  3. Hello! I have just discovered your blog through NZ Food Bloggers Association. I have a blog too, PicNic. So great to discover other Kiwi bloggers. All of your recipes look wonderful 🙂

    • Love your kiwi recipes! Would love to find the right lollies here to make lolly cake. Lollies of course only mean lollipops here.. Will enjoy perusing your recipes for a taste of home 😀

  4. Oh Christina how right you are! You really put my feelings into words here as a fellow kiwi, and Barista over the last 10 years. I am working in a coffee shop at a ski resort in Alberta! Its been fascinating and disheartening to learn of the coffee culture here or as I call it ‘the starbucks mentality’. Its always a breath of fresh air when somebody has the guts to ask for a flat white!! I have been brewing some beans from the Banff Roasting Company recently, good stuff! Lets hope the third wave can push trough the corporates!!!

    • Ah, yes Sly-Zo I have met a few kiwi baristas at the coffee shops in Banff and up the mountain. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to order a flat white! Definitely hoping the small, local roasters push the corporates out of town – although there is still SUCH a demand for quick drip coffee in the city.

  5. This is in the oven right now, minus the millet. I didn’t have any and couldn’t be bothered venturing outside the house. Next time though 🙂

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