Vancouver Coffee Worth Seeking

City British Columbia

Vancouver is home to a sparkling skyline and an equally dazzling culinary community.

Learn about 10 places to drink specialty coffee in Vancouver, Canada’s third largest city and home to a populace that craves high-quality caffeine. In British Columbia’s biggest hub, I repeatedly found coffee pros who combined carefully considered cafe design with deftly roasted beans, state of the art brewing equipment and creative signature beverages. It could be easy to believe that we have it all in California when it comes to coffee (and food), but Vancouver keeps showing me that it’s still possible to have fresh experiences outside the Golden State. Establishments appear in alphabetical order.

Additions since November 4, 2016: East Van Roasters, Nemesis Coffee, Oidé Coffee, Propaganda Coffee + Prototype Coffee

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Coffee Vancouver

Caffe Artigiano co-founder Vince Piccolo built 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters into a force. Their sleek Mount Pleasant outpost shares space with sister company Lucky’s Doughnuts. Given the inextricable link between coffee and donuts, this marriage is of course harmonious. Their collaboration even yields a delectable coffee cruller with espresso in the glaze and cold brew in the batter.

East Van Roasters

Coffee Vancouver

PHS Community Services Society launched East Van Roasters in 2011 and became a socially minded Community Contribution Company in 2021. This fair trade chocolate maker and coffee roaster serves five different drinking chocolates and one spectacular mocha featuring ganache made with Peruvian dark chocolate, cream and honey that they boost with Empress blend espresso.

Elysian Coffee Roasters

Coffee Vancouver

Alistair Durie debuted an Elysian location in 2016 beneath downtown’s Hotel Burrard that features a black map of Canada. Expect the usual roster of espresso and brewed drinks done well. I’d also suggest their rooibos chai with Nuez almond cashew milk.

Matchstick Coffee Roasters

Coffee Vancouver

Annie Viehweger, Spencer Viehweger, and Aaron Braun debuted Matchstick in 2012. Their Chinatown branch with wall mounted buck horns brews single-origin coffees to order. This Matchstick outpost also features a formidable bakery, including house breads, toasts, pastries. I’d recommend pairing their cinnamon twist with a Gibraltar.

Nemesis Coffee

Coffee Vancouver

If only I had a nemesis that treated me so well. I visited two Nemesis Coffee locations. Their sleek North Vancouver outpost at The Polygon Gallery was particularly amazing, starting with their seasonal matcha lychee fizz and oat milk cortado starring “fuller bodied” Indian espresso. An on-site bakery produced a flaky, honey-brushed pistachio swirl and still warm ube cornflake cruller.

Oidé Coffee

Coffee Vancouver

Right after my visit, Rika and Kento relocated Oidé Coffee from Grandview-Woodlands to a modern space near Granville Island. They served two of my favorite Vancouver drinks: a spectacular ginger yuzu honey soda and a beautiful and delicious cappuccino featuring Dak single origin beans from Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Propaganda Coffee

Coffee Vancouver

Propaganda Coffee stands out in Chinatown for their elegant design, which includes a neon robot logo, and cutting-edge multi-roaster coffee program. Their frothy shaken iced cappuccino and tangy cascara soda (on tap) both impressed me.

Prototype Coffee

Coffee Vancouver

Matt Johnson and his team debuted stylish Prototype Coffee bar in 2019. They roast coffee in small batches on four Aillio Bullet countertop roasters to maximize variety and freshness. My bright, seasonal Candied Espresso featured single origin Costa Rican beans. They also press waffle donuts in flavors like grapefruit raspberry, lemon bergamot (and cinnamon swirl.

Revolver Coffee

Coffee Vancouver

George Giannakos and brother John run Revolver, an ambitious Gastown coffee bar that debuted in 2011 and touts a triptych of global maps created with nails. This multi-roaster cafe offers a Tasting Flight with two espressos and two macchiatos and a Brew Flight of one coffee brewed three ways. Both options cost $9 and take 10-15 minutes.

Timbertrain Coffee Roasters

Coffee Vancouver

Min Shin, Jeff Shin, and Peter Kim launched Timbertrain in 2015. Customers sit in railcar-like seating. A menu lists Fast Bar, Slow Bar and Cold Bar Offerings. Single origin coffee and nitro cold brew is available on tap and they craft seasonal specials like Clockwork Orange. A black steel and wood coffee bar with cutting-edge equipment completes Timbertrain’s caffeinated phalanx.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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