CityMash.com - It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Vancouver has seen its fair share of coffee enculturation (we’re right next door to Seattle, after all), but in the last few years the city has made leaps and bounds in terms of really appreciating the craft, and this has been seen primarily in the development of several notable gourmet coffee suppliers and cafés.
We take a look at four of the most promising, both in terms of coffee selection, uniqueness, and overall aesthetic.
The Greenhorn Cafe
Starting off our list, the Greenhorn is a relatively new addition to the downtown west side, but has quickly picked up steam as a resident hangout for local artistes and coffee snobs.
The relatively innocuous looking exterior does a good job of disguising the café from the Starbucks crowd, while the interior boasts a number of quaint tables, a large window seating area, and a really homey feeling. The wood décor definitely helps to accentuate The Greenhorn’s philosophy of sustainability, and there’s an entire wall dedicated to albums (with some rather unusual and rare artifacts).
As far as coffee goes, espresso tops their menu as the go-to item, but they also offer some other specialties like flat whites (for those who’ve been to Australia and New Zealand), as well as your staple cappuccinos, Americanos, and café mochas. If you’re up for a treat though, their cortado en vaso is a great Spanish take on double shot espresso with steamed milk.
With two locations, excluding their primary roastery and head office, 49th Parallel has some serious seniority in the gourmet coffee world, and the fact they’ve branched out into a franchise hasn’t diminished their reputation as one of the premiere cafés in Vancouver.
What really makes 49th Parallel a real Vancouver treasure is their focus on transparency, and they work very hard to source their beans from local farmers in South America. This includes a Colombian Yacuanquer, a dark roast with lime overtones, and one of the better citric coffees on their menu.
Also try out their Longitude 123° W Blend, a Canadian favorite reminiscent of caramel with a sweet and clean finish. All of their coffees are available for purchase as well, and come with specific criteria for each including slurry temperature, extraction rates, and brewing ratios.
With their main café tucked neatly into Cordova Street, Timbertrain is one of the more iconic hipster coffee centers in the downtown core. Their dedication to slow roasting and slow pouring means you might end up waiting several minutes for a fresh brewed Lomi Tasha as the baristas carefully pour single serve grounds in a circle into a glass decanter before depositing it into a heavy mug with a clay lid.
If you’re after something darker, try the Nicaragua Los Congos, one of the higher altitude beans on the menu that boasts a chocolate scent and is one of those rare wonders that should definitely be drunk black. If you’re after something a bit milder though, you can’t go wrong with a slow-poured Guatemala Finca La Guadalupe, one of their premiere Antigua roasts.
Less than a block away, we save the best for last. Recently Revolver renovated its space and took over an adjacent section of building so they’re even larger than they once were. The same attention to detail and to process is observed here, but it’s precisely the individual attention they pay to every cup that really highlights them as a gourmet coffee supplier.
Their rotating menu includes coffee selections from a truly global selection of roasters including Barista Parlor out of Nashville, Square Mile from London, Heart out of Portland, Oregon, and the ever popular Bows and Arrows roastery located in Victoria.
As you huddle into the melange of fresh grounds, wabi sabi décor, and hipstermatic faces it’s hard to imagine you’re in Vancouver and not a café in Marseilles or Kyoto. The owner and his brother also blind test every cup and blend weekly, and on Fridays you can drop by from 12 to 1 for a free tasting.
If it’s your first time frequenting Revolver, we highly recommend taking them up on their tasting flight, where you can pick and choose three different blends brewed the same way or one blend brewed in three different ways.