April 22, 2013

Vancouver Coffee Shops ~ beyond the usual

Coffee in Vancouver is part of the culture of the city. As well as the national and international chains, there are many local independents doing their own thing, often with more excitement and devotion than anything Starbucks or Tim Horton's would dare.

Around the south Main Street area of the city are a number of good coffee houses, beyond the usual. One that stands out is Gene, just off the corner of Broadway and Main in a uniquely shaped building. Gene is not fancy in any way. It consistently serves good espresso coffees, and always with a small spoon, exactly as a good espresso beverage should be served. They feature some rather nice baked items with the croissants being highly acceptable. The place itself is a bit battered and rustic but it feels right for the neighbourhood; the regulars are legion. Service is not particularly warm and fuzzy, and might, to some, feel slightly unfriendly. That too seems consistent, and shouldn't put a visitor off; the coffee is reason enough to come and linger.

Down busy Broadway, just past Cambie as you walk west, is Elysian, my current favourite coffee house. Elysian is a fantastic place with truly great espresso drinks, served with smiles and polite banter. This place offers knowledgeable customer service in a well appointed setting. Pastries, cookies, muffins and treats are all highly recommended and the croissants are among the best in town. Nice selection of quality teas too.

A negative at Elysian: you have to ask for a spoon with your espresso drink. Good grief. An amazing positive at Elysian: they provide you the option of having sparkling or still water with your coffee, just like in Buenos Aires, and exactly as good coffee should be served. Elysian also has the best music mix of any coffee joint in the city and for some reason it always fits the mood of the moment. Or maybe it's all that coffee I'm drinking.

See some Buenos Aires coffee culture: Cafe y facturas  and Esquina Sinclair .


  1. Vancouver may boost a large number of coffee houses, but, one thing is for sure, none of them can make a good cappuccino. When this drink was bought on to the market they missed Canada all together.

  2. Vancouver may have a culture towards coffee with a variety of coffee houses, both local and international, but I did not find one that could make a good Cappuccino, somewhere along the way I think Vancouver missed the boat due mainly to their milk containing too much water content

    1. You might be right about the milk; maybe asking for whole milk might be a solution. For me, two cities that standout for consistently great coffee: Melbourne and Buenos Aires.


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