11 July 2014

The Vancouver Caffeine Chronicles

I spent just over three days in Vancouver, but still managed to sample a fair bit of the city's coffee culture. Here are my four favourite coffee bars:

1. Revolver (Gastown). 325 Cambie Street. Website. Twitter. Tucked away on a quiet block of Cambie Street, Revolver offers a vast array of coffees and an even bigger selection of brewing equipment. Exhausted from running and from lack of sleep, I stopped by on my first morning in the city and ordered an Aeropress-brewed cup of Costa Rican coffee from Anchored Coffee Roasters. As I was still hot from my run, I also picked up a bottle of their cold-brew coffee, which comes served in the coolest little medicine bottle — currently adorning my bookshelf.

I was also tempted by the brew flights they serve but that would have to wait...at least six hours, anyway. I was back at Revolver that afternoon and ordered the flight with a Guatemalan variety. With the flight, you can either have three coffee varieties brewed with the same method, or the same coffee brewed through three different methods. I opted for the latter, and when I opened the answer booklet, I was surprised to find that my favourite was the Clever dripped brew, rather than the Aeropress.

On the day we left for Saskatoon, I went to Revolver again for another Costa Rican coffee, but went for the Clever-brewed version this time, and really liked it. I sense another coffee purchase coming on. Revolver has plenty of seating inside — all exposed brick and reclaimed wood — and a gorgeous brew bar, where they prepare all the fancy coffee.

2. Timbertrain Coffee Roasters (Gastown). 311 West Cordova Street. Website. Twitter. I spotted Timberlake on my first morning run, on my way to Revolver. I admired their cool logo and their super-stylish brew bar and made a mental note to come back. Indeed, on my second morning, I was eagerly awaiting my pourover. They have the most beautiful copper Kalita drippers and pouring kettles at Timbertain, and my coffee was great. Plus, the staff are all super-friendly.

3. 49th Parallel (Mount Pleasant / Kitsilano). 2902 Main Street / 2198 West 4th Ave. Website. Twitter. I had singled out 49th Parallel while doing research for this trip, partly because of its name (inspired by Vancouver's latitude) and partly because of its new Lucky's Doughnuts project. It took me until my third day in the city to visit their Mount Pleasant Café on South Main Street, as it's a little further away from the downtown area than the others. It was worth the trip though.

Although they don't serve hand-drip coffee, I had a decent americano on my first visit and an excellent macchiato on my second trip, to the West 4th Ave branch. I also love their duck-egg blue crockery — my alma mater would approve! The doughnuts were also awesome, the peanut butter and jelly variety being the winner, although the salted caramel one was great too. Both branches have plenty of seating, including patio seating, and free wifi, and the West 4th cafe also has cool bike parking racks.

4. Innocent Coffee (Fairview). 1340 West 4th Ave. Website. Twitter. Innocent's cute logo loomed on the horizon on my final day in Vancouver when I was desperate need of caffeination and cooling. Their delicious iced pourover killed both birds with the same stone! Innocent is a bright and airy but tiny, dollhouse-like coffee bar and café, run by a brother-and-sister team, who also bake all of the pastries. Its design and concept reminded me of Omotesando Koffee in Tokyo. It's a really cool place and if you're in the area (just south of Granville Island, and just east of the more interesting part of West 4th Avenue), you should definitely check it out.

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