We don’t think of Vancouver as part of the Pacific Northwest because it’s in another country, but in reality, there are some aspects to the city that will remind you of Seattle and Portland beyond the weather.
The sheer amount of stylish and quality coffee places is intense. Two of them are within eyeshot of each other. It reminds me of that joke in Best in Show, “We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.”
The first one I visited on my first morning (after drooling all over Purebread) was Revolver, located in the tourist-hub Gastown section.
It’s not a roaster, but they have a huge selection of the best micro-roasters in British Columbia. Thus, you pick your pour over coffee or espresso-based drink from a rotating menu of beans. The menu has all the coffee nerd-like flavor profiles — notes of hibiscus, butter tarts, bubblegum and toasted bagels.
The roaster I went with was Bows & Arrows from Victoria. I loved it so much I took a box home. I probably picked it because it had handsome packaging.
For my espresso choice, I went with Phil & Sebastian from Calgary, just because it was almost sounded like the band Belle & Sebastian.
The space has a small bar area with some fancy, brass equipment with a exposed brick background. The other room has a communal table with a library of art books to browse while you sip.
After that, I headed about 40 steps to Timbertrain Coffee Roaster. Similar in look in feel of Revolver, it’s a little bit of an industrial chic look with woodworking that’s similar to the Scandinavian/Japanese minimalism.
The coffee selection also relies on a menu of pour overs, just from their own blends and single origins.
On the second day, my first stop was at Nemesis Coffee, my favorite of the bunch. It’s another Scandinavian/Japanese minimalism with the light wood booths and counters with level and straight edges all around.
This places you show all your coffee geek tricks and jargon. It goes something like this:
Barista: What flavor profile do you prefer?
Me: I like everything. It depends on my mood. Sometimes I like bright and floral, other times, earthy and chocolatey. I’ll do earthy.
Then, while I’m drinking my coffee and eating toast and house jam, the barista came over and offered me small tasters of everything. It worked because I bought a couple of bags.
If you visit, make sure you use the bathroom so you can see this:
For my afternoon fika, I headed to the Kitsilano part of the city for 49th Parallel & Lucky Donuts, a sort of hyrbid coffee and donut joint. Even at 4 o’clock on Monday, all the tables were filled. There are two other locations downtown and Mt. Pleasant. And you’re damn right I took donuts to go to have the next morning before my flight.