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Coffeehouse and Cafe Reviews


phaelon56
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Vancouver is known for having some good coffee and espresso available but I'd love to hear details - I've only tried a few places there. Also... how about the rest of BC and Western Canada? Let's hear about your favorites but don't be shy about telling which places just can't brew a good cup either.

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Thanks Owen for starting this ...

Rather than start in the heart of Vancouver where coffee shops abound, I thought I'd mention a little spot in my neck o' the woods ... North Burnaby.

In a part of Burnaby known for its Italian population there are starngely very few places to get a good shot of espresso. A few have come and gone (perhaps experiments gone awry) but Papagallo Cafe (6696 hastings - SW corner of Hastings & Sperling) has been pulling shots of espresso for over 10 years now.

Originally in the Kensington Square mall, they were "encouraged" to relocate when a larger coffee chain decided to move in (sorry for the editorializing ... still kinda peeves me tho'). Their new digs, although smaller, are more "quaint" and IMO better suited to a shot and the morning paper.

The coffee Pappagallo serves is nothing trendy. No "shade grown," "ethically traded" or "hand-picked by your favorite underprivelaged ethnic-group-du-jour" beans here. That's never been the point. Pappagallo coffee tastes like ... coffee. The latte, cappacino, machiatto crowd better like the tast of joe 'cuz that's what you get. For me. it was the presence of that slight bitterness in the coffee that won me over. It was a great change to Brand-S where everything pretty much tastes the same.

The owner Pat, his wife (been going for over 10 years now and still don't know her name!) and son Rene have cultivated a loyal group of followers, many of whom still journey over from the mall. They offer a decent selection of baked goods ... their cheesecakes (home made) are INCREDIBLE. They also offer some light breakfast/lunch options ... my wife and I walk our Jack-Russels up there on Saturday for a latte and a breakfast bagel.

Parking can be a bit if a drag ... there's a bit around the back. Otherwise you're toughing it out on the streets.

Pappagallo Cafe

6696 Hastings

Burnaby, BC

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There is a lot of good coffee and a lot of bad beans. My favoriste take out is Cafe Calabria on the drive, the americanos are oh tasty and hot! For coffee at home, bean around the world "Ethiopia Harrar" is the favorite in our abode. I got 1/2 lb of starbucks the other day because we were desparate, as it was a block away, and it was terrible, soo incredibly bitter, though not even strong. We have thrown away our filter drip coffee maker, and just use either bodum, or stove top espresso maker and that still doesn't help the Starbucks beans.

DANIELLE

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-Virginia Woolf

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For beans try Continental on Commercial at 2nd on the SE corner. The best is the Famiglia. You have to ask for it. They sell at least a 40 gallon bin of it every day so it's very freshly roasted. Oddly enough their espresso drinks are crap.

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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  • 6 months later...

After a good spin on the bike coming in to a hot Bean Size Latte and a warm bowl of Russian vegetable soup & crusty loaf is most pleasing. I especially enjoy the Bean around the World locations on West 10th and Main Street a real energy in the people hanging out there and the coffee is real. Interested in other peoples favorite coffee spots in and around the city.

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Inspired by our recent travels, the missus and I have discussed opening a real cafe in Vancouver. And I'm only being semi-tongue in cheek here, I actually think the fashion masochists of Yaletown would enjoy coffee without options. Here's the concept, based on the prevailing attitudes of the continent.

Sizes? We don't do sizes, you want more? Order two. Caramel Latte garnished with confit of gooseberry? Nope. We have two products, coffee and coffee with cream, which will it be? Take out? Piss off. If you're in a rush, stand at the damn bar, drink up and get out. If you are so busy and important that you don't have five minutes for a quick coffee, you should have one of your assistants making it for you. Exceptions to the no takeout rule will be waived for neighbours in the immediate vicinity, they'll get a tray with cups of coffee to run up to the office, please return the cups when done. And no, you can't buy the music we're playing. We're a cafe, not a record shop. Payment will be made in Euro's exclusively, and include a service charge, so there will be no grubby jar with a smilie face and something about the staff snowboard fund on it around. There's no line snaking towards the register, stand at the bar and we'll get to you, don't worry. And you want your pumpkin crannberry chocolate dipped scone on the side? We're a cafe, not a bakery, besides, who wants to eat in the morning? I distrust breakfast eaters as a rule.

And while I suspect that organic, passed through the gastrointestinal system of a cat, shade grown is a bunch of bullshit, we will serve fair trade beans, if collectively we need to wear a Boss suit rather than Zegna so some poor bastard in the hills of Columbia can afford to buy his kids pencils for school, then so be it.

Now drink up and get out. Or sit quitely in the corner and read your paper, you're welcome to linger.

Now all I need is a name. Something with a lot of hard constanants would give it a Germanic sound...That might help imply my rather fascist attitudes towards the way a cafe should be run.

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I would normally say Artiggiano but the one in Park Royal has been terrible both times I have been there. The espresso was overextracted and bitter both times.

Good luck with your utopia Keith. Perhaps you should step up and build such a place. I would come by, once.

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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Artiggiano is good, minus the attitude.

I did have an outstanding espresso last night at a joint on granville between pender and hastings.

Totally trashed my nights sleep, but damn it was good.

The place is called Trees Organic Coffee and their coffees are quite good.

I think there was a sign outside the other day that said, "Best Cheesecake" or something. Haven't tried it yet though.

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Now all I need is a name. Something with a lot of hard constanants would give it a Germanic sound...That might help imply my rather fascist attitudes towards the way a cafe should be run.

You should call it Caffeine Nazi ... No coffee for you! One month!

God I missed you Keith! Welcome back. :laugh:

A.

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And now for Victoria.

The home of eccentrics and some of those have decided to open coffee shops.

Some have Germanic tendencies, but we wont' use the "N" word.

First up is Caffe Fantastico. They are a small roasting operation that is adamant about small batches and only sell 1/2 lbs at a time.

Their coffee is only sold in double shots. If you want a single shot, go elsewhere. You want an espresso or macciato to go? Go elsewhere. Even if you wanted a quad to go, they won't do it.

An extra shot? Nope. It's double or nothing. Great coffee though.

Next up is Sam Jones at 2% Jazz. Also roasts his own and is fantatical about espresso. Gives away free espresso on a regular basis. He latest thing is crotchless espresso. Since he teaches about the proper way to serve espresso, he removed the bottom of the porta filter. You can see the properly tamped coffee undulated and swirling to the middle and down to the cup. very, very sexy. Sam pours very sweet espresso, like no one else.

This should keep you perked up for now,

s

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DameD, Calabria is where I had my first-ever espresso. It was a shock, I didn't really know what espresso was back then (lo these twenty years ago) but I was looking to impress a girl. She didn't drink hers, and was rather impressed that I did.

Later I switched to Joe's, just 'cuz everybody hung out at Joe's and it was also pretty damned good.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Joe's Cafe on Commercial is my choice.

It may not be the best, but having cappuccino layered into a tall glass with a mile-high head of foam served by unpretentious fellows in an unpretentious setting is pretty cool. It's especially fun when there's any sort of World Cup or European Cup football going on.

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We enjoy a coffee or latte from JJ Bean every weekend when we go to the market for our weekly shop but it definitely can't be considered a coffee house. I always feel a sense of victory if I can walk away without having spilt my drink or someone else's. At 0830 on a Saturday morning, there are a lot of people who need their fix and they have a sense of real determination about them. We've also been to the one on Powell Street which is more of a coffee house. We combine that with a trip to the Gourmet Warehouse which is always expensive. Most of the time our beans are from JJ Bean. I also enjoy Torre Fiazione (I know I spelt that incorrectly - assume it is close to the phonetic spelling :biggrin: )

I have yet to try Caffe Artiggianno - I haven't felt cool or hip enough yet. I'm working on it, though.

Cheers,

Karole

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Coffee at home is my choice unless Mr. Talent opens his new one. I would probably be a regular as that's all I want, straight, brewed black coffee or an espresso. (Could this be my German/Swiss DNA?) No lattes, no mochachinos. I haven't been to a coffee place yet that serves a decent espresso (like I had in Europe) or a delicious muffin, scone, pastry etc. Tend to buy beans from JJ Bean at G.I. and have been to Bean Around the World on Main St. (really liked the atmosphere, staff, and customers there), but found their baked items leave a very unpleasant coating on my tongue. I'm assuming they don't use butter. La Petite France on Arbutus (at 10th?) serves a very tasty small cup of Illy and their pastries are the best I have found so far and worth the extra cost.

Starbucks obviously rules in Vancouver though. They are everywhere and very convenient and consistent. In this case, location is everything. Their baked goods are awful, who is their supplier, anyone know?

"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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caffe artigiano, simply the very best

I have to agree with vandan on this one.

Artigiano serves the only coffee comparable with what we've sampled in European cities.

Best part is you can buy it on site (Intelligentsia brand) and it tastes just as good brewed at home as what they serve up in the store.

Even the decaf. :laugh:

cm

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I would guess that Artigiano has jumped the shark in terms of hipster cool factor. A website, multiple locations, it's Starbucks with a local street cred. It's cool the first couple times, mainly because of the visual impact, but after that it's merely an alright cup.

Plus the whole "world champion barista" crown being constantly banged over your head makes me snicker, rather than impress me. All I think when I hear that is amazement that there is even dumber competions than ballroom dance championships.

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I just discovered Alyssia (I think thats the spelling ) around the corner from the Fifth Avenue Cinema on Burrard. The place never really appealed to me from the outside but as I was walking by last week I stopped in to grab a coffee.

For some reason I went for a Mocha which I haven't had in a long time and was amazed at how good it was. It wasn't big or topped with whipped cream, just really good chocolate syrup, great espresso and milk foam. The owner is apparently a fanatic for quality coffee and is always out sourcing the best beans etc. Just watching him work on each coffee shows how serious he is.

I've been back a couple of times and all the coffees are excellent.

The rest of the offerings (food) look OK but nothing out of the ordinary.

I'll put these guys up as having among the best coffee on the West side if not the city (subjective as that is).

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Speaking of mocha's (tho I know a real coffee geek wouldn't deign to sip one) Torrefazione(?) on 41st makes the best I've had by far. They don't add any sugar to the chocolate syrup. If you resist the urge to add sugar it makes for a fantastically mellow morning drink.

I've heard some disquieting rumours that they may be closing soon. I hope not.

It ain't the meat it's the emotion

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I used to live half a block from BC Gelati and I credit Mike (the owner at that time, I think he handed over the reigns to his sister) for introducing me to espresso. The way it should be. He had spent a few years in Italy working in cafe's and brought that knowledge to us here. I moved away from the neighborhood and one afternoon I was in the area and went in for an espresso, and unfortunately, it just wasn't the same. But 3 years ago, it was the best damned coffee in the city!!

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I was taught to sweeten it with a little bit of a "special" sugar that was kept behind the counter for the regulars only. (I think there were about 10 of us at the time that knew about it). Basically it was a paste made out of brown sugar and espresso. Oh was that good!! But really you can add what you like.

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This is probably a stupid question, but does one add cream and sugar to an espresso? My coffee-drinking experience is sadly limited to Americanos from *gasp* Starbucks (I can always find a location!) and I've been to Caffe Artigiano a handful of times.

First of all Ling, we must cure you of your Starbucks habbit. Once you try really good coffee, you'll wonder what sort of swill SB was putting in your Eggnog-extra foam-half whip-tripple shot-vente latte-for here.

Espresso is typically enjoyed with sugar ... although I prefer mine without. Espresso with a bit of steamed milk is a machiatto (Italian for "marked"). You can vary the amount of milk ... but the idea is to taste the espresso. For me, I like steamed milk and espresso in equal portions. The foam is really just for show in my case ... if I'm making coffee for myself I tend to avoid it.

Try this sometime ... go to Artigiano and order a single latte, a machiatto and a regualr shot of espresso (add sugar to the espresso). Try each in succession (latte, machiatto, espresso) ... finish them if you want to be wired for the rest of the day. Somewhere in there will be your coffee.

On another note ....

Has anyone noticed the change in service at the JJ Bean on The Drive? Apparently they've changed management ... to their detriment IMO. Service and coffee quality has really dropped off. What happened to Mary?? This has really fowled up my morning routine! First we lose Finezze Di Federico to Cobbs, and now this! I want answers now dammit! :angry:

I need coffee ...

A.

Edited by Daddy-A (log)
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