Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Vancouver Fine Coffee Explosion

There was one time when Vancouver was known for only one thing when it came to coffee- Starbucks.  On a trip to visit my parents in Florida last May, I was quite taken aback by the what several people that I met there said when I mentioned I was from Vancouver- "Oh ya, Vancouver-that is where they have a few Starbucks on the same street corner isn't it?".  Not one mention of Stanley Park, Vancouver Island, nearby Whistler.  All they could associate us with was Starbucks.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not knocking Starbucks by any means.  I get a cup of java (short Pike in a tall cup) from there almost every morning and love it.

But Starbucks beware- there are some new kids on the block that are ready to give you a run for your money.

I have already blogged about Matchstick here in East Van (see previous review)- amazing custom-made coffee made by expert baristas, sampler plates and sandwiches made with local ingredients, delicious baked goods, all served in a relaxed atmosphere.  

After posting my Matchstick review, I received some welcome tips on other such specialty coffee that had recently popped up all over the city.  Here are two more of my recent finds:

49th Parallel

2909 Main St.

Vancouver BC

V5T 0C1


My jaw dropped when I walked into this Main Street coffee shop last weekend.  I feel bad calling it a "coffee shop".  It looks more like the lobby of a nice hotel, with black leather couches and a toasty fireplace at the back.  It is a huge space, packed to the rafters with customers enjoying both the custom-made 49th Parallel coffee (well renowned for its fine quality) as well as their other house-made specialty doughnuts.  Called Lucky's Doughnuts, it is the brainchild of the owners of 49th Parallel, according to the website, who were always searching out good doughnuts to eat with their coffee while they were on business trips.  They took a few doughnut making courses and then voila- their business dream of a "coffee and doughnut only" shop was born.  All of their toppings, fillings and jams are homeade in the store daily- you can see the doughnut preparatio in realtime through a big window at the back of the store.  I am not a huge doughnut fan myself, but my husband is, and he really enjoyed his glazed doughnut.  Other more exotic options include orange honey pistacio, apple bacon fritter and pumpkin.  



Now onto the main priority- the coffee.  My husband and both ordered Americanos (our usual Saturday treat).  The Americano was extremely smooth- one of the best I have had in Vancouver so far (second only to Wicked, still my all-time favorite).  I went back another day and had a latte which was also amazing.  Sitting right next to the fireplace also added to the experience, especially on a rainy, damp day!  Service is very professional and attentive- not the hippy, non-chalant vibe that you usually find on Main St.  This is certainly a place to check out, both for its atmosphere and its coffee.




325 Cambie Street  

Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7

(604) 558-4444

Now moving to another of Vancouver's up and coming areas of the city, we arrive at Revolver, located just outside of Gastown.  Toursists beware- this locale is very close to the city's notorious "Downtown East Side", known for its reputation of being one of the most drug-infested parts of Canada.  Although the area around Revolver is quite safe during its working hours (it closes at 6pm), one misturn could lead you into a part of town where you may have heroin and cocaine shoved right in your face for purchase.  

That being said, the above should not dissuade you from checking out Revolver (just make you you have Google maps on hand!).  It is about a quarter of the size of 49th Parallel on Main, with a much more minimalist decor.  It is a very cozy and inviting environment which, if you are lucky enough to snag one of the prized booths, is a ery pleasant place to sit and meet with a friend or read for an hour (I could not get WiFi, don't think they have it).  Service is very friendly- no "snootiness" here!


I had a latte on my visit- very smooth, perfect temperature, with just the right amount of foam. Yum.  For those who want a little bite to eat with their beverage, they also offer a small selection of baked goods (cookies, muffins, squares) which seemed to be popular (I resisted the temptation this time!).  

A highly recommended stop for all those working or shopping near Gastown!

***A note to 49th Parallel and Revolver- for appease those of us who prefer non-dairy lattes, the addition of Almond Milk to your repertoire would be much appreciated!  Soy is good, but Almond if better (Matchstick does it really well!!!).

49th Parallel Roasters Café on Urbanspoon


Revolver on Urbanspoon

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