Vancouver. It's like the Canadian Seattle, only with better mountain views and more new, tacky high-rise architecture. These damp, mellow climes call for coffee at all hours, be it velvety espresso drinks or delicate drip. We sought out the finest of this coffee-drenched landscape and selected a few of our favo(u)rites.
Esteemed Elysian Coffee has always been the place to find the newest toys, and their newest toy is a coffee roaster—now turning fresh batches of carefully selected coffee brown for Elysian's two cafes.
Filter coffees are still prepared on the intriguing, but falling-from-fashion Clover machine, but rumor has it these will be eschewed soon for something sexier. House-baked goods are served as well in the clean, taking-themselves-seriously environments of each cafe, and roasting should be getting better and better as time goes on. A must stop (along with Revolver) for the super-coffee-enthusiastic passing through town.
What started as an enthusiastic family business in Ambleside has taken root in Gastown. The Giannakos family—which includes at least three coffee-obsessed brothers—brought their second cafe to Vancouver with a splash. The industrial-rustic space is just right for the neighborhood, with a view to showing off new and inventive coffees and techniques (they're the guys behind brewmethods.com after all).
Enjoy cups of Chemex drip (via highly-stirred Kone filter) or fierce shots of espresso from roasters like Phil & Sebastian, Ritual, Verve, and more before you head back to Hastings Street to pass out on the sidewalk.
The most high-volume network of locally run cafes in Vancouver is without question Caffé Artigiano, whose nearly a dozen locations crank out arty, sturdy lattes in Italian-inspired cafe settings that serve the city with comfort. With a seasonal array of internationally flown in beans from Intelligentsia, Artigiano offer a quality experience—if a slightly more traditional one. The best news is if you need a coffee, there is always one nearby.
49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
Vancouver's preeminent roaster is the long-reigning 49th Parallel, a family affair whose flagship Kitslano cafe is as tightly run a ship as the company's state-of-the-art Burnaby roasting facility. The company's directly sourced, intriguing, high quality green coffees are presented well at this slightly 90s time-warp styled café (it used to be a retail clothing store... possibly for a teenage girl). Service is cheerful and drinks are prepared to the highest quality, however. Try their Epic espresso blend macchiato—it's always served as a breve, with cream.
49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
Commercial Drive's long-running Prado underwent an ownership change last year—to Vancouver coffee celeb Sammy Piccolo, multiple-time second place winner of the World Barista Champion. Not stuck in bridesmaid mode, however, Piccolo's rejuvenated cafe brings service and talent to this airy, sunny space. Beans are from local roaster 49th Parallel, of course—where roasting and operations are the purview of Sammy's brothers Mike and Vince.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop later this year.