Since I moved to Vancouver, more than seven years ago, there have been many changes in the Vancouver food scene. The most noticeable change that I’ve seen is the gradual improvement of the coffee scene. In the past year we have seen the introduction of Revolver, Matchstick, and Nelson the Seagull, all establishments that take pride in the coffee that they offer.
I wanted to make it easy for you to find good coffee in Vancouver so I put together this list of coffee shops that I recommend (these are in no particular order):
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 2, 2014
I have recently been made aware of Dose Espresso Bar at 1517 West Broadway (at Granville). This tiny coffee shop does a great brew. They have limited baked goods to compliment your coffee.
The new Matchstick in Chinatown (East Georgia Street) is a comfortable, large space to linger over a delicious cup of house-roasted coffee and some pretty good baked goods or toast. They are also licensed, although, I’m more keen for the coffee than a beer.
If you are in Kits and looking for a decent coffee hit, Momento Coffee House at 2766 West 4th (at MacDonald) has you sorted. Not open on Sundays.
JJ Bean, various locations: “My” JJ is the shack at CBC on Hamilton Street but I pop into the stores on Granville Island, Yaletown, and Main Street occasionally too. JJ isn’t perfect though – I’m finding that their quality can be inconsistent (the Yaletown store springs to mind). Their baked goods are made in-house daily and their muffins are absolutely huge! JJ cafes try to adapt to their location so the Alberni Street store is more chic for the downtown crowd, whereas the Commercial Street store feels more comfy.
Nelson the Seagull, Gastown: Any café in Vancouver that sells flat whitesis alright by me! Nelson offers good coffee (although I’ve had a few sour ones recently) and I, personally, am a big fan of their lattes. They bake daily so you can grab yourself a muffin or a bacon and egg cup, or you can sit in and have something more substantial, like a sandwich. Nelson has the feel of a friend’s lounge room, with easy-going tunes, comfy couches and communal tables.
Breakfast at Nelson the Seagull
Revolver, Gastown: So hipster it hurts but these guys know their coffee. The space is well-decorated with lots of wood and exposed brick. I’m almost intimidated with all of the coffee paraphernalia that covers the counters here. Limited snacks such as coffee cake and muffins are also available. Their lattes are stronger than most places but their portions are smaller than I would like.
Matchstick, Mt Pleasant: The newest addition to the coffee scene, Matchstick is a retailer and a soon-to-be roaster of coffee. Large windows, wooden commune tables, and a chic look all encourage you to linger. The problem will be can you get a seat? Matchstick already has a loyal following and obviously fills a void in an area with few options. Food is currently limited to pastries, sandwiches, and muffins.
Elysian, Broadway/Cambie & Kitsilano: Not my automatic go-to choice but will do when I’m not close to any of my other favourites. The coffee is strong here and they do a decent latte – that’s enough for me to drop in every now and again. They have a number of snacks, such as cookies and small treats.
What are your favourite coffee shops? Send me some suggestions if you feel I’ve overlooked some good ones!