Best Independent Coffee Shops in Vancouver

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Feature image: clubantietam

In the past few years Vancouver’s food and beverage scene has blossomed with newly opened coffee houses, as the city enters an era of coffee renaissance. Rated as one of the top coffee cities in the world, the streets are filled with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here is our list of the top ten independent coffee shops:

Revolver Coffee

revolver

This unique location plays off an archaic feel through its brick walls and rugged wood flooring, while managing to emit a modern worldly feeling through its music and design. Opened in 2011 by the Giannakos family, this coffee house located in mystical Gastown highlights roasters that are not as common. San Francisco, New York, Calgary and Halifax are some of their main importing locations. Revolver strives to welcome curious coffee tasters through its testing options.

“You can really dive deep if you wanted,” explained George Giannakos, co-owner of Revolver. A customer can try a “brew flight”, which is the same coffee brewed three different ways. A “taste flight” is also available, which is three different coffees all brewed the same way. “We try providing the community a real coffee experience.”

Owner’s drink of choice: Macchiato

Address: 325 Cambie Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-558-4444

Website: www.revolvercoffee.ca

 

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters on Main Street

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Vince Piccolo and his brother started their first location in Kitsilano by bringing in roasted coffee from Burnaby, back in 2004. Since then, they have opened their lively second location on Main Street.

“We don’t want to expand to 10-20 stores,” said Piccolo. “We want to control our quality, and we can’t do it that way.” Now with a bigger crew, Piccolo says he can focus on maintaining top-notch quality in order to give the “best coffee experience in the world.”

49th Parallel sticks to proven methods such as small batch brewing. By using a small batch of brewing coffee, the ratio of water to coffee contact is easily programmed.

Owner’s drink of choice: Traditional Espresso

Address: 2902 Main Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-420-4900

Website: www.49thparallelroasters.com

 

Matchstick Coffee Roasters

matchstick

“If someone asked you for a light and you pulled out a box of matches, it would be weird,” explained Spencer Viehweger, co-founder of Matchstick. “People use disposable lighters because they’re fast, easier and cheaper.”

Viehweger believes people are taking the same approach to food, which is resulting in a decline of culture; therefore to counter that, Matchstick Coffee has become a symbol of how Viehweger believes products should be crafted. And he compares it to storytelling. “We tell the story that’s already in the coffee by unlocking its true flavour,” he said. By brewing coffee with outstanding taste and adding nothing extra, Matchstick brings coffee to its full potential. “Good coffee comes from quality products prepared by people that care about them.”

Owner’s drink of choice: Black coffee brewed with Chemex + Kone

Address: 639 E 15th Avenue, Vancouver

Phone: 604-558-0639

Website: www.mathstickcoffee.com

 

Kafka’s Coffee

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Aaron Kafka likes to educate his customers a little bit every time they visit. “We strive for transparency,” he said. Kafka will tell you the exact location your coffee is from, and will even give you the farmer’s name.

The place opened on Main Street four years ago by Kafka himself, and much of the shop’s interior design reflects his own personal style. The contrast of the chestnut coloured wooden flooring against the white walls brings forth a contemporary feel.

“We focus a lot on art as well,” said Kafka. The coffee house is also an art gallery, featuring different artwork every six weeks. The opening day for the exhibits attract over 100 people on their own. Kafka is a big respecter of art, and his passion extends to the art of coffee.

Owner’s drink of choice: Espresso

Address: 2525 Main Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-569-2967

Website: www.kafkascoffee.ca

 

Beaucoup Bakery & Café

beaucoup

Jackie Ellis spent six months refining the recipe of Beaucoup Bakery’s famous croissant. “I try to give a great balance between food and coffee,” she said. Before opening this cute little cafe, Ellis spent ten years working as a designer. “Because of my previous profession I was able to create a space that gives the perfect experience.”

The old-fashion European flare blended with North American style of the cafe was inspired by Ellis’s trip to Paris where she studied pastries. Like many others, she started through the help of 49th Parallel and still brews using their coffee. Customers rarely visit with an empty hand—a coffee in one and some baked goods in the other.

Owner’s drink of choice: Macchiato

Address: 2150 Fir Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-732-4222

Website: www.beaucoupbakery.com

 

Musette Caffè

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“Cycling culture and caffeine culture. That’s our thing,” said Antoine Bain, co-owner of Musette Caffè. And when he joined his best friend Thomas Eleizegui who started the coffee house in 2011, they made the place distinctive by theming it according to their lifestyle. “I love riding and I love watching races from Europe. But there isn’t really a place around to watch something like La Tour De France.”

His goal of launching a cyclist clubhouse ended up becoming a coffee house. Decorated with street bicycles and cycling jerseys, the cafe launched its brewing by using 49th Parallel coffee. But in the near future Musette will begin to switch monthly between different local roasters.

Musette also serves a limited amount of local and European alcohol. Because after a long day at work, why not just have a cold beer?

Owner’s drink of choice: Old school roast

Address: 1262 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-336-1159

Website: www.musettecafee.com

 

Timbertrain Coffee Roasters

timbertrain

Timbertrain is designed to give literal meaning to the name. The newly built coffee house opened in Gastown in January of this year. The interior is designed to resemble a train, and has the seats imitating the inside of a passenger car. Grab a drink and hop in and out of the train carriage at your own pace.

“We understand in this type of neighbourhood, people are professionally busy,” said co-founder, Peter Kim. And in response to that, Timbertrain offers a Fast Bar and a Slow Bar. With the Slow Bar, Kim says more work is put into preparing the coffee, as they use pour-overs.

“Not all coffees taste the same,” said Kim. “Tasting coffee is like tasting wine.” With summer around the corner, Timbertrain has launched coffee on tap. With fast pouring service, the tap is linked to direct coffee mixed with nitrogen, forming crema on the top of this beer-like drink.

Owner’s drink of choice: Drip coffee (black)

Address: 311 W Cordova Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-915-9188

Website: www.timbertraincoffeeroasters.com

 

Bel Cafe

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Located in one of Vancouver’s busiest intersections, this tiny cafe embedded into the Georgia Hotel takes coffee and food very seriously. “The only thing we don’t take seriously is ourselves,” said Chad Clark, the general manager. “Our easygoing and friendly staff is what makes the vibe here.”

The small space and the crowded surroundings do not downsize Bel Cafe’s quality of execution. While brewing single-origin coffee from Ethiopia along with the old school blend from 49th, Bel Cafe is also greatly known for its baked goods and sweets—rated as Vancouver’s best—from macarons to croissants. The cafe has managed to tighten the rather populous neighbourhood through its service.

“We see the same faces every single day. Most of our regulars don’t even have to order, we have personalized buttons with their names on it,” said Clark.

Owner’s drink of choice: Traditional Espresso

Address: 801 W Georgia Street, Vancouver

Phone: 604-673-7000

Website: www.belcafe.com

 

Le Marché St. George

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This charming little café makes one feel as though they are visiting a mini supermarket in the 1920s. The location has become a neighbourhood rendezvous point. Mothers will stop by before their morning run, and father will grab a cup before taking the kids to the park.

The building was built in 1904 and during the 50s it was a classic corner store that still sold individual cigarettes. Pascal Roy and his wife Janaki Larsen bought it and turned it into a coffee house, which also acts as a mini grocery store.

“It’s definitely a place that brings the community together,” said Klee Larsen, manager and sister of the co-founder. Le Marché excelled in coffee quality by taking note of customer feedback. “We started off not knowing anything about coffee. But as time went by we continued to learn from our customers and eventually became this place where all the knowledgeable coffee lovers would come.”

Owner’s drink of choice: The Friendship cup (A two shot Macchiato split into two cups and shared between two friends.)

Address: E 28th Avenue, Vancouver

Phone: 604-565-5107

Website: www.marchestgeorge.com

 

Elysian Coffee

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Alistair Durie, founder of Elysian Coffee, flies to La Soledad farm in Guatemala every couple of years, and holds a great relationship with the producers of the product he sells. But when it comes to roasting, he likes to have it done himself in Granville Island.

Elysian Coffee currently has two locations and is opening a third one sometime in 2014. Christina MacKay, head coordinator says expanding won’t affect their quality because of their great team. “The baristas here are all extremely knowledgeable about coffee,” she said. “We are constantly talking about better ways to brew coffee.”

Owner’s drink of choice: Drip coffee (black)

Address: 590 W Broadway, Vancouver / 1778 W 5th Avenue, Vancouver

Phone: 604-874-5909

Website: www.elysiancoffee.com

 

images: Ryan Cooke

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Behdad Mahichi is currently an Editorial Assistant at Vancity Buzz and a journalism student at Ryerson University. He writes about anything from entertainment and politics to his misfortunately extreme caffeine addiction.
@bmahichi

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