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Coffeehouse and Cafe Reviews


phaelon56
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Alembic!!!! Thank you! I feel ashamed for forgetting the name.

Yes, Montrachet and I were waxing poetically about it a few days ago. My favorite coffee. Although, if you've ever met the original owners, there were other reasons :blush:

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Is Alembic a type of coffee, or a brand of coffee? I looked at the map on the website and I think I can find this place. :wink:

I had a double espresso from Caffe Artigiano yesterday and I added a bit of sugar to it, no milk. It was more concentrated than the espressos I had from Tree, and more bitter.

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Alembic is a style of brewing. I cant' describe it nearly as well as the BC Gelati website, but the flavour is something very unique. I wish the Alembic systems were still for sale. I may have to order one online.

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Wow! A Cafe Artigiano in Kerrisdale. Now I have to summon up all the coolness I can muster and go in. I wonder why Torrefazione went under? It was always packed. There are definitely a lot of coffee joints in our 'hood. All we have are coffee bars, banks and sushi restaurants. And (the shame of it all) a Cobs! Gasp. Why can't it go under? What I want is a Williams and Sonoma to take over the Salvation Army Thrift store on the corner of 41st and the Boulevard. That would be a good addition.

Cheers,

Karole

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People, people, Torrefazzione is owned by *$, yes, this is true, and that is why the closed the Kerrisdale location. They can only afford to compete with themselves directly across the street on Robson, where there are south siders, north siders.

All this coffee talk is interesting, you all can rival some of the coffee geek communiques. However what is interesting to me, is that as usual, here in Vancouver we spend less money and don't just order whatever we want from the web.

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Was called away and perhaps posted too hastily.

As for coffee, JJ Bean has me hooked these days, but I drink 99% of my coffee at home. I have a Rancillio Audrey, or Miss Audrey as they are known, it is old and has served me well for many many years. Espresso at home is better than you can consistently get at any cafe in Vancouver, or even as far away as Italy.

Note: when I am in Italy the cafe owners frequently make fun of me, because I believe there are more coffee's than three (Daddy-A don't take offense). I am a big fan of iced coffee in various ways, and this always makes them laugh ... except for one small cafe in Modena (one of my favourite spots, but I digress).

Bialetti I see someone answered, this is a fine way to brew coffee and if done right is not bitter.

Also, I have to comment on all the Starbucks hate mail, it is really too much. Starbucks has it's place and for those of us with discerning taste, just ask for a new drink if your espresso doesn't taste good, usually this works, only once did I have to have an argument with the shift supervisor who failed to apologize when she realized the automatic bar was out of beans! It is thanks to *$ that coffee has been elevated in north america and we can have famous baristas working at Artiginale etc.

Enjoy your next shot, even if it is a half-caf non-fat no-whip mocha :cool:

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Note: when I am in Italy the cafe owners frequently make fun of me, because I believe there are more coffee's than three (Daddy-A don't take offense).

Moi? Never! Always room for another open mind in these hallowed halls. A big welcome to you and your new addiction.

Also, I have to comment on all the Starbucks hate mail, it is really too much.  Starbucks has it's place and for those of us with discerning taste, just ask for a new drink if your espresso doesn't taste good

Actually, my beef with *$ (I like the shorthand!) has little to do with their insipid coffee. It's more about their lack of corporate responsibility and the Walmart-like way they seek and destroy the competition ... but that kind of discussion has no place here on eGullet which is focussed on food and not the homogenized "culture" companies like *$ creates.

Sorry ... been shopping at Coquitlam Centre with the kids and was forced to eat at Boston Pizza :wacko:

A.

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Ah yes, Alembic was the proper name of the brewing system. Thank you phoodphan! Let me know if you find a source peppyre. I will do the same.  -m

The proper term is a Vacuum Brewer. I know the owners at BC Gelati and I really must ask them why they chose to call their vacuum brewers "alembic" which is a word for a laboratory distillation process. Perhaps its what Italians call them. They carried the Hellem models from France, who have since stopped manufacturing them.

'Vac Pots' were invented in late 1830’s europe, and the concept/design is exactly the same today. throughout the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, they were mass manufactured (by Solex, Westinghouse, GE etc) and became a very common household and restaurant item. this is long before percolator and filter auto drip machines fully entered the market, which through convenience and marketing (not quality) killed off the vacuum pot.

Vacuum brewers are still around, very popular in asia and amongst coffeegeeks who widely agree that the vacuum pot is the finest methods of brewing non-espresso coffee.

how do they work? water is heated in the lower chamber and ground coffee is placed in the upper chamber. when the correct brewing temperature is reached, vapor pressure will move water into the upper globe and saturate the coffee. when heat is removed, a vacuum is formed which siphons the coffee down through a cloth filter. when complete the upper chamber is removed and the lower pot is used to serve the coffee.

why is it so good? firstly temperature, which is a big problem with almost every other brewing device. pretty much ALL home drip machines do not heat water hot enough to brew coffee correctly. by nature the vacuum pot will only begin to brew when water reaches 195-200 degrees. coffee grinds are being fully saturated, and are being filtered out through cloth or paper when you remove it from the heat. it seems complicated to read (and explain), but its quite a simple device. it looks fantastic, and can be used right on a dinner table in front of guests.

read more in the Vac Pot FAQ by Mark Prince.

We use and sell the Yama and Hario Vac Pots in our store and I use one at home on a daily basis. Love it.

Edited by hopkin (log)

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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I must say I'm a little dissapointed from the discussion here, which got sidetracked on condensed milk (with vietnamese coffee added) and where to get late night grub downtown. I can pity that some people are 'forced' (seemingly by the convenience excuse) to flock to starbucks or seattles best, but i'm more sorry to read their confessions. its table wine, filler, plonk! i know you know better. life is too short to drink bad coffee!

Its a pain because there are so many quality local independent coffee shops.

Here's some mentioned, some not:

Caffe Artigiano (various locations) Making the big guys look real bad. fantastic barista's. specialising in caffe latte.

JJ Bean (3 locations: granville island, powell street, and commerical) commercial drive location has undergone an almost total staff changeover in the past 3 months, so as for complaints of rough experiences there, a more consistant quality is now settling in. A new Main Street (at 14th) location opening February 2005.

The Elysian Room (5th @ Burrard) One of the city's finest cafe's that no one is talking about. modest. charming. delicious. serious coffee.

Cafe O (Davie St, attached to the Opus Hotel) changed ownership as of 1 month ago. Previously owner used illy but was not so serious about coffee. New owner has installed a Synesso Cyncra (new Seattle manufacturer), first of its kind in Vancouver. Awesome spot to grab a shot downtown.

Wicked Cafe (corner of 7th and Hemlock) Opened about 3 months ago. Owner is very enthusiastic about good coffee and is baking cakes, pastries and waffles in house. Fresh neighborhood energy.

Take 5 Cafe (5 downtown locations) My first and only visit was not so positive but I know they have the means and the talent somewhere, sometime. Been meaning to try them again.

Bean Around the World locations deserve some mention, a vancouver staple with warm wooden decor, feel-good old world style coffee houses. drip coffee is wisest order. capable of decent espresso but barista's are ill-trained at best. hey you might get lucky. still better choice than starbucks.

---------------------

Alistair Durie

The Elysian Room

Edited by hopkin (log)

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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I must say I'm a little dissapointed from the discussion here, which got sidetracked on condensed milk (with vietnamese coffee added) and where to get late night grub downtown.  I can pity that some people are 'forced' (seemingly by the convenience excuse) to flock to starbucks or seattles best, but i'm more sorry to read their confessions.  its table wine, filler, plonk!  i know you know better.  life is too short to drink bad coffee!

---------------------

Alistair Durie

The Elysian Room

As one of the perpetrators in question, I'd like to let you in on a not-so-secret. The Vancouver eGullet forum is particularly chatty and a good chunk of its members are notorious for regularly straying off topic; however, we always manage to return to the issue at hand. Remember, many of us have already met, and we consider each other friends rather than just fellow board posters. If the chat is bothersome, then just filter through. You'll quickly return to relevant discussion. I believe that Arne made similar mention of this local phenomenon in another thread, but I can't remember which one.

And as for Vietnamese iced coffee? Like a good number of Filipinos, I was raised in a household where sweet coffee served with evaporated milk was the norm. :shock: Please try to restrain your disgust. Granted, my tastes have since changed and I certainly enjoy a good cappuccino or espresso as much as the next person. But sweet coffee will always have a somewhat nostalgic element for me, and it's nice to return to the tastes of your childhood once in a while. If that puts me and the country of Vietnam outside the circle of coffee cognoscenti, then so be it. Now. Someone please pass me a steaming bowl of pho chased with a glass of iced coffee.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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I'm with you Moosh.

On a hot summer's day, a Vietnamese ice coffee can't be beat. Part of it, for me, is the littlle bit of foreplay involved. The waiting for the coffee to finish dripping into the glass, the mixing together of the condensed milk with the long spoon, pouring the mixture over ice and then finally, the reward - a strong sweet highly satisfying beverage that Starbucks could never ever duplicate.

I don't know what kind of coffee they use for the iced coffee, but in this case, I could care less.

On the other hand, high end hotels and restaurants should be serving excellent quality coffee and I'll be the first to complain if they don't.

s

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... life is too short to drink bad coffee!

I agree with this line and so with the little time that we do have, it's worth the wait for a nice "vacuum brew" or a Vietnamese drip coffee.

Well said Moosh. Yes we are a bunch of fun-loving food geeks that may stray OT from time to time. Life is short but not too short to take too seriously.

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JJ Bean (3 locations: granville island, powell street, and commerical) commercial drive location has undergone an almost total staff changeover in the past 3 months, so as for complaints of rough experiences there, a more consistant quality is now settling in.  A new Main Street (at 14th) location opening February 2005.

Yeah, I found out about the changeover last week. As you mentioned, the service at the Commercial store is slowly getting back up to snuff. Still, JJ is my source for the beans I grind at home. And a new location at Main & 14th??? :biggrin: Life just improved a whole bunch!

The Elysian Room (5th @ Burrard)  One of the city's finest cafe's that no one is talking about. modest. charming. delicious. serious coffee.

I'm glad you "out" yourself in your threads ... this was sounding suspiciously self-indulgent. Thanks for letting us know ... will have to check it out soon. Do you give eGullet discounts??? :raz:

Bean Around the World locations deserve some mention, a vancouver staple with warm wooden decor, feel-good old world style coffee houses.  drip coffee is wisest order.  capable of decent espresso but barista's are ill-trained at best. hey you might get lucky.  still better choice than starbucks.

My second favorite joe in Vancouver. The Main street location (@19th) is the best IMO.

Thanks for the synopsis hopkin, and welcome to eGullet.

A.

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I would be so happy to see a JJ Bean go into that location on 14th. There was a rumour that it was going to be some organic coffee joint, but with Cobs next door and a *& (I like the shorthand too) 4 storefronts away, I won't get excited until I actually see the signs.

I wonder if I could start a neighborhood petition for it?

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I did see those. Definitely not even close to the ones that BC Gelati used to carry. 3 years ago they were $150ish and very well made. I know, I tried to break a few. From what I can find online, they're hard to find but I'm going to ask over on the Coffee Board to see if I can find one.

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As one of the perpetrators in question, I'd like to let you in on a not-so-secret.  The Vancouver eGullet forum is particularly chatty and a good chunk of its members are notorious for regularly straying off topic;

of course i understand this, my appologies. you see, i'm very passionate about coffee and perhaps get a little too carried away. chefs and foodies talking about trips to starbucks gets me in a bit of a tizzie.

however, we always manage to return to the issue at hand.

that was my exact intention.

And as for Vietnamese iced coffee?  Like a good number of Filipinos, I was raised in a household where sweet coffee served with evaporated milk was the norm.  :shock:  Please try to restrain your disgust.

truth is i quite like vietnamese iced coffee. i just consider it more of a candy than a coffee: its all about the condensed milk. as an iced coffee, i like a glass of ice, a touch of 10% cream, maple syrup, and 3oz of espresso dropped over it all. delicious.

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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Alembic is indeed a term used for a type of distilation. Very popular in making brandy. Starbucks (*$'s) was pimping some vacum brew machines around christmas of last year, they were around $200.00. They looked really cheaply made though.

These are the Bodum Santos Electric re-branded. They have some serious flaws, but are better than most drip machines. And yes even though they are made of plastic they will probably break sooner than glass. They just don't deliver the quality and elegance of traditional vacuum brewers.

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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of course i understand this, my appologies.  you see, i'm very passionate about coffee and perhaps get a little too carried away.  chefs and foodies talking about trips to starbucks gets me in a bit of a tizzie.

Then you'll fit in around here just fine. What would this world be without coffee, food and wineaholics. Welcome to the madhouse Alistair!

One quick note: I tried clicking on the weblink that you provided for The Elysian Room but couldn't access your site. Internet be damned... I'll just have to stop by for a cuppa! And you're just up the hill from my husband's office. He's our family's true coffee nut and I'll have to send him up your way.

:smile:

Joie

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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I did see those.  Definitely not even close to the ones that BC Gelati used to carry.  3 years ago they were $150ish and very well made.  I know, I tried to break a few.  From what I can find online, they're hard to find but I'm going to ask over on the Coffee Board to see if I can find one.

The Hellem pots (that BC Gelati had) are harder to find, they stopped production of them. Could probably find one on Ebay. But you don't need to spend that much to get the same results, the Yama pots we have are $59. Whats nice about them is you can use them right on a stove and the brew time is about 5-8 minutes. More of an everyday brewer. The Hellem/Hario brewers have thier own stand and depending on the heat source it can take up to half an hour unless you pre-heat your water. They are awesome but more of something you would pull out to use with guests at the diner table.

Edited by hopkin (log)

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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