July 06, 2014

49th Parallel Coffee

Meticulous comes to mind after having a coffee at 49th Parallel Coffee. This is serious coffee where attention to detail is everything.

49th Parallel Coffee was born out of Caffe Artigiano. In the late nineties, Vince Piccolo established the upscale Caffe Artigiano in downtown Vancouver. It was wildly successful and expanded to five stores and a staff of over 100. Around 2004 Piccolo opened a roasting facility in Burnaby so he could roast his own beans. The same year he sold the coffee shops and Artigiano's expansion continued. Meanwhile Mr Piccolo concentrated on roasting beans and then selling them to coffee shops like Artigiano.

In 2008 49th Parallel opened its first store in Kits and a few years later entered trendy Main Street with another. The store on Main is a delight; lots of seating, including long tables, more intimate settings and some comfy chairs near the back. And while the decor is great, its the coffee that blows one away.

The espresso drinks are made with an obstinate care. Beans are ground and weighed. Temperature and time are constantly measured. The shot is pulled and, if it doesn't meet a certain weight, it is set aside, as was my first espresso. "Not really up to our standards" said the pleasant young man pulling the shots. "I'll make another for you right away."

Presentation is impressive. Espresso drinks are served on wooden boards, with indentations in the wood for cup, spoon and water. Impressive indeed.

The coffee is superb. Creamy, rich and delirious in chocolate tones. I had to have another, this time from a different bean; again it was delightful, with hints of nuts and smoke.

An important sideline, though it's hardly secondary, would be the high end donuts crafted in-house. Could this be the best coffee place on earth?

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.

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