Various Locations (see website for more details)
Brief Description: At Cafe Artigiano, award-winning baristas artfully create delectable Italian style coffee. Linger in elegant and welcoming surroundings.
When I arrived in Vancouver, I was truly surprised to find that the city had so many coffee shops – there is one on almost every corner! It was such a surprise as I had just come from living in Ireland where there is a pub on almost every corner! Now, I enjoy my booze but I am a total fiend for quality, strong coffee, so coffee shops on every corner is more important to me! Since Ireland could not offer me what I so desperately needed, finding a good coffee shop became my first priority when I arrived. Hey, who cares about finding a job or an apartment when you have found that perfect cup of coffee?
I tried all of the big chain coffee shops; Waves, Blendz and Starbucks. All were disappointing but I continued with my search. Thankfully, I read an article about Cafe Artigiano and it came complete with a picture of the beautiful latte “art” (see pictures). That was enough to make me think that these people knew what they were doing.
The chain began humbly in Vancouver in 2000, with only one location on Pender and Thurlow. Their mission: to introduce Vancouverites to superior Italian-style coffee. Vancouverites obviously appreciated the introduction and about 2 years later the chain expanded to include its popular (read: extremely busy) location on Hornby and Robson and have since continued opening stores. They currently have over 10 stores, with one of those being as far away as Calgary.
Although Artigiano is no longer my favourite coffee shop in Vancouver (that title belongs to JJ Bean, Revolver or Nelson the Seagull), I will drop in every now again for a coffee, particularly if I’m not close to the above-listed favourites. I still find Cafe Artigiano coffee to be better than what the big chains are churning out. The coffee is strong with a robust flavour; just the way Italian coffee should be. The service is also pretty decent, depending on which store you visit (I find the Kits location to be staffed by students who act as though you are interrupting their very important conversations). I have rarely had issues with the service at their downtown locations.
Unfortunately, I find that the baked goods and sandwiches that Artigiano sells are very mediocre. The baked goods rarely taste fresh, the sandwiches are very pricey, and none of it is worthy of a recommendation. It will suffice when in a rush but I wouldn’t count on having a great snack with your coffee, which is disappointing.
It has now been 5 years since I moved to Vancouver *updated in 2012* and I’m sorry to say that Cafe Artigiano has slipped from my number 1 coffee spot to just scrapping into the top 5. It seems as though a change has been taking place, albeit a slow change, which means we Vancouverites now have better options when it comes to coffee shops. It still serves coffee that is better than Starbucks but now with more decent options around I find very little reason to go to Cafe Artigiano.