View Vancouver Coffeehouses in a larger map
Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
It’s pretty much universally accepted at this point that Seattle and Portland have destination coffeehouses, but their Pacific Northwest neighbor to the north – Vancouver – has developed a vital coffee culture of its own. My most recent visit included eight coffee stops, all based on advice from locals, with several cups yielded compelling results.
Last August, former Caffe Artigiano General Manager Dejan Bozic opened an espresso bar and bistro in Shaw House, one of the first homes built on Vancouver’s Fairview Slopes, in 1894. In Italy, a Cittadella is fortified city on a hill that’s protected from marauders, and the goatteed owner added that since they’re surrounded by modern buildings, people can come for an escape. Bozic lived in Bologna for 16 years, so the coffeehouse has somewhat of an Italian aesthetic, including a three-group Victoria Arduino espresso machine with glowing lettering. Each shot of 49th Parallel espresso comes with a small bar of 72% dark chocolate, and pastries are baked in-house.
Alistair Durie debuted the Elysian Room downtown about 12 years ago, and almost a decade later, he followed up with Elysian Coffee on Broadway. His modern, glass-fronted coffee bar features banquette and counter seating and a clear emphasis on education. One-sheets describe La Tortuga and El Machete coffees from Intelligentsia, laid out on the curved bar, along with bowls of roasted beans and photos of coffee sorting line the walls, all designed to build dialogue. Baristi like Nate, who’s been with Elysian for three years and is studying painting at nearby Emily Carr University, pull shots on a three-group espresso machine. They also brew coffee on twin Clovers and sell Kones, but during my June 3 visit, they were on the verge of removing the Clover machines and switching to a Kone pourover bar.
The company leading the Vancouver coffee movement seems to be 49th Parallel, which was founded by Caffe Artigiano co-founder Vince Piccolo and supplies a lot of other top area coffeehouses. They roast beans in Burnaby, and have a single coffeehouse, in Kitsilano, with a brown and sky blue color scheme, high ceilings and banquette seating, though they’re apparently opening a second coffeehouse in 2012, in a still undisclosed location.
Barista Conrad Brown, who’s been with 49th Parallel since the shop’s September 2007 debut, pulled me a shot of Epic Espresso on a deluxe three-group Mirage machine, engineered by Kees Vanderwestin in Holland. The Epic blend changes seasonally.