Across the bridge we find a coffee shop with a personality all its own, or that of its owner. I've followed Viva Java to three locations over the years and this one defies understanding. At the end of nondescript strip mall along busy Bridgeport Road, south of the casino, close to Costco and within walking of the Canada Line, but nowhere near anything in particular, we find Arti Hagop and his amazing coffee roasting operation.
It's a strange location to be sure but well worth the visit. Arti roasts organic beans every day and will blend them to your specifications (he has supplied coffee to the fussiest of film crews).
Arti has a reputation, and it's largely true: he doesn't always get along with people. He is an independent thinker who loves coffee and knows the coffee roasting business. It is all about coffee with Arti, and the coffee is wonderful.
Become Arti's friend and you will be greeted by name, even after a lengthy absence. In my case, it's been about four years, and upon seeing me Arti shouted out an immediate, "Hello Jimmie-Man!"
I've always been Jimmie-Man to Arti, and one only argues with Arti if... well, if you don't want any coffee today. Years ago, he earned the nick name The Coffee Nazi and it still applies. He seems to have softened just a bit, though it still helps if you know what you want before you order.
No fancy desserts or croissants here, and that isn't important. What is important is the great coffee, along with Arti's special blend of humour and commentary on world events, and for freshly roasted beans: there's nothing to compare with Viva Java.
Viva Java is located at 2900 Smith Street, Unit 9, in Richmond BC.
Photos by Jeem . Copyright 2013 by Jim Murray.