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Coffeehouse and Cafe Reviews


phaelon56
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I'm a JJ Bean fan as well, but just before xmas my sister in law was shopping for a home machine and during the research I made her do, she encountered all this discussion on how espresso tastes better when the portafilter has had it's spouts removed.  Apparently one of the Victoria coffee houses is brewing this way, anyone notice one of our Vancouver spots  brewing this way?  Photos of the technique are quite beautiful, and the espresso is reputed to be hands down better even in taste tests with less discriminating tasters!

Please let me know if you have seen this / tasted this, and where.

I read about this in the December issue of EAT. They're called "crotchless" shots and theyre served at 2% Jazz Espresso in Victoria. I don't think any Vancouver places are doing this yet unfortunately, but I'd like to try one.

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For ambience, I would say Calabria. It isn't designer coffee like Artigiano but I love the tacky decor. Forget all the double latte with no fat or skim or whatever you're supposed to order and just go for a regular coffee.

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I'm a JJ Bean fan as well, but just before xmas my sister in law was shopping for a home machine and during the research I made her do, she encountered all this discussion on how espresso tastes better when the portafilter has had it's spouts removed.  Apparently one of the Victoria coffee houses is brewing this way, anyone notice one of our Vancouver spots  brewing this way?  Photos of the technique are quite beautiful, and the espresso is reputed to be hands down better even in taste tests with less discriminating tasters!

Please let me know if you have seen this / tasted this, and where.

The naked portafilter was a revolution in espresso. We were one of the first shops to do this here, if not the world. The very first pictures can still be seen Here and the story can be read on the Barista Guild Website

Our machine has ran totally Naked ever since. JJ Bean, Artigiano and many other shops are since also using naked portafilters.. so you might have been drinking naked all this time and never knew it :shock:

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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Well I finally made it to Cafe Artigianno this past week. Went to the Massive Change exhibit at the Art Gallery and ran (literally) across the street to CA for coffees. The most recent visit (revisit to the exhibit as it closes today) confirmed my first impression - this is truly amazing coffee. Rich, smooth are the two adjectives that first come to mind. Cafe itself is busy and crowded and the condiments bar difficult to navigate and difficult to use but the coffee makes up for these small inconveniences. Staff and service are perfunctory but that might be part of the event?

To contrast, we drove up to Whistler early New Year's Day (8 am) to pick up our daughter. She and her friend looked a little haggard so we offered to get them coffees before driving home. The line up was out the door and it was -8 C so the wait was very chilly. Once inside, service was slow but things got worse. The barista's hands were shaking so badly she split most of my latte and unfortunately I didn't notice that she simply topped the drink up with milk so the effect was warm milk with a mild coffee flavour. While we were waiting for our drinks several people brought back their drinks complaining about the taste. Word to the wise - don't go to Starbuck's first thing New Year's morning - the staff is more hung over than the patrons.

Cheers,

Karole

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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the "Latte Art", or is that just a tourist thing?

Presentation is a serious factor of course. The coffee should taste great and look great.

Latte Art (which has been around for decades) can only be achieved if the following criteria are met: espresso with thick crema, milk that is fresh and steamed to silky perfection, and a barista who knows how to pour it. Without these, Latte Art cannot exist.

So for the consumer to find a shop that has good presentation is a good start to finding great coffee. Not a gaurantee, but a very good sign.

Caffe Artigiano were the first shop in Vancouver to highlight Latte Art and take it to the extreme (owner Sammy Piccolo won the 2004 world latte art compitition in Singapore).

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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Holy crap! This naked portafilter thing is some cool geeky stuff.

Alastair's coffee speaks for itself( if you wonder whether it makes a difference or not) although there is more to it in that as far as technical expertise and quality of beans etc.

For the sake of continuity and for those who will do searches in the future is there somone who can merge this thread with the original coffee house discussion?l

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I would like to hear more about the Park Royal location. I'm the manager, and I've been there since day one. One of the drawbacks to the ristretto shots we pull is the fine line you must dance to pull them. A touch low in volume - bitter. A touch over - no longer a ristretto. We will always make a new espresso if it doesn't meet your expectations.

I hope your visits (coop and winegeek) were not recent. We trained the staff almost completely from scratch - and they have come a very long way, believe me. We prefer to teach from scratch. It may seem like more work, but in the long run, it's not.

A few days ago, I'd read good (not great) things about our espresso on coffeegeek, and was pleased. When I read this, I was taken aback, I wanted to learn more... so, if you're willing, give me the details. I'll figure this out, and fix it.

I think it has more to do with the lay-out than the coffee itself. While I know that being busy is a good thing for you, my wife will no longer go there because it is so cramped. There is absolutely NO personal space. While all the other locations are also busy, this one seems to push the envelpoe for seating. By the way, she still loves the coffee, just not that location, which is very dissapointing because she works in West Van.

Derek

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Holy crap! This naked portafilter thing is some cool geeky stuff. 

Alastair's coffee speaks for itself( if you wonder whether it makes a difference or not) although there is more to it in that as far as technical expertise and quality of beans etc.

For the sake of continuity and for those who will do searches in the future is there somone who can merge this thread with the original coffee house discussion?l

I've asked hopkin to move the "naked shots" over to the Coffee Forum ... there are a couple other forums on the topic over there already. Everything else in the Artigiano thread is about that particular business, so I'll leave them separate for now.

Thanks!

Arne

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I think it has more to do with the lay-out than the coffee itself.  While I know that being busy is a good thing for you, my wife will no longer go there because it is so cramped.  There is absolutely NO personal space.  While all the other locations are also busy, this one seems to push the envelpoe for seating.  By the way, she still loves the coffee, just not that location, which is very dissapointing because she works in West Van.

Can't argue with it being cramped... running the food and clearing the dishes is a trick at times. So, we've shifted a few of the tables away from the pinch points, and we've actually removed a couple of the tables to give more room. Holidays, and weekends, that store is packed, especially in the afternoon. The mornings are pretty quiet though, until 10 or so.

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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My main concern was with the bitterness of the triple shots I have ordered. I usually have a machiatto, which seems to temper the bitterness. The room to me is okay sort of like a cave with Italian nick nacks. Don't be taken aback on this barret, no one is perfect. Keep in mind you get more diversified comments here then on coffee geek. Coffee is only about 5th on most of our vice lists. BTW to come up to the standards set by the Howe St. location is quite a lofty goal.

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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It's not that lofty a goal... we're all trained the same, we all spend time with Sammy. We swap staff in and out of the stores to make them more well rounded. I must admit though, I do love the Hornby store... something about it... maybe it's the 5 groups? Posterity?

I know that no one is perfect, but from the tone of the conversation, I was under the impression that Park Royal's espresso was consistently below the quality set by the other locations. When was your last visit?

I'm in search of more diversified comments... I've read enough about bottomless portafilters and PIDing a Sylvia. I want to know how the coffee is, when I'm not standing there, or pulling the shots myself, I want to know how the service is and, well, everything! That's my job! Any takers?

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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been out of touch last few days ... but Elysian room coffee here I come! Hopkin, thanks for the news ... I don't usually travel too far and wide for my daily dose, but crotchless portafiltering is worth it ... might have to bring the crowd with me Sat or Sun a.m. ... when do you guys open on the weekends ? AND do you let x-baristi hang out behind the bar ~ one can only hope you will let a coffee 'geek' like me catch a glimpse :cool:

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been out of touch last few days ... but Elysian room coffee here I come!  Hopkin, thanks for the news ... I don't usually travel too far and wide for my daily dose, but crotchless portafiltering is worth it ... might have to bring the crowd with me Sat or Sun a.m. ... when do you guys open on the weekends ?  AND do you let x-baristi hang out behind the bar ~ one can only hope you will let a coffee 'geek' like me catch a glimpse  :cool:

Hell, they even let non-baristi like me have a gander. I goota admitt, the crotchless shots look even cooler in person. :wacko: And they taste damn good too.

A.

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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.

I have to recind that comment ... was at the JJ on Commercial on Tuesday and damn near had to walk out the service was so friggin' slow. There must have been 6 staff behind the counter, and another 2 or 3 milling about in the back ... nobody doing anything I would call productive. I know it was the first day back after New Years, but still ....

The guy who I have to assume is the new manager is the only person there who knows how to pull a shot. The barista who was working on my 3 shot latte must have tossed out 3 attempts at espresso. It wasn't busy ... he wasn't "in the weeds" ... he just didn't know what he was doing. It's either lack of training or lack of ability ... but I shouldn't have to wait 15 minutes for a latte when I'm the only one in line!

I try not to rant ... but I'm hoping someone from JJ's lurks here, or that hopkin or barret can pass this along. I would have said something myself, but the "assumed" manager had 4 staff around him at the time, and I'm not about to be late for an appointment so I can tell him what he should already know.

I've been to The Elysian Room twice this week ... if you weren't so far out of my way Alistaire I'd have a new fave :rolleyes:

A.

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I have to recind that comment ... was at the JJ on Commercial on Tuesday and damn near had to walk out the service was so friggin' slow.  There must have been 6 staff behind the counter, and another 2 or 3 milling about in the back ... nobody doing anything I would call productive.  I know it was the first day back after New Years, but still .... 

The guy who I have to assume is the new manager is the only person there who knows how to pull a shot.  The barista who was working on my 3 shot latte must have tossed out 3 attempts at espresso.  It wasn't busy ... he wasn't "in the weeds" ... he just didn't know what he was doing.  It's either lack of training or lack of ability ... but I shouldn't have to wait 15 minutes for a latte when I'm the only one in line!

I try not to rant ... but I'm hoping someone from JJ's lurks here, or that hopkin or barret can pass this along.  I would have said something myself, but the "assumed" manager had 4 staff around him at the time, and I'm not about to be late for an appointment so I can tell him what he should already know.

I agree 15 minutes is WAY too long to wait in those circumstances, i don't really understand how it can be that bad... but... redoing shots is usually a sign that the barista knows what they are looking for, dumping them is a sign they are not finding it. To the barista's credit (and I hope) it may have been someone that was just so fanatical about your drink that they wanted to make it [too] perfect.

Not communicating with you about the wait is the worst mistake they made.

I was in the commercial store early in the week and had a pretty good shot. I perched behind the bar and watched the crew for about 10 minutes. The place was jammed, the manager wasn't in, the barista's had things under control, there must have been 6 people on shift at least. It seemed like a fairly organised chaos.

I've been to The Elysian Room twice this week ... if you weren't so far out of my way Alistaire I'd have a new fave  :rolleyes:

And the Kolachy shop is how far from you? Don't you go there at least twice a day?! i quote you:

where were you?  Supporting your friend?  NO!  Supporting your kolachy habbit! YES!

It makes me sad. :sad:

:raz:

Edited by hopkin (log)

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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been out of touch last few days ... but Elysian room coffee here I come!  Hopkin, thanks for the news ... I don't usually travel too far and wide for my daily dose, but crotchless portafiltering is worth it ... might have to bring the crowd with me Sat or Sun a.m. ... when do you guys open on the weekends ?  AND do you let x-baristi hang out behind the bar ~ one can only hope you will let a coffee 'geek' like me catch a glimpse  :cool:

We've had many guests behind the counter, but the nice thing about our open bar setup is the machine doesn't have its back to you, everyone can see it all happening.

mon-fri 7am-10:30

sat-sun 12noon-10:30

looking forward to your visit

Alistair Durie

Elysian Coffee

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I've been to The Elysian Room twice this week ... if you weren't so far out of my way Alistaire I'd have a new fave  :rolleyes:

And the Kolachy shop is how far from you? Don't you go there at least twice a day?! i quote you:

where were you?  Supporting your friend?  NO!  Supporting your kolachy habbit! YES!

It makes me sad. :sad:

:raz:

Ouch! :unsure::unsure::unsure:

See you Monday? :laugh:

A.

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We've had many guests behind the counter, but the nice thing about our open bar setup is the machine doesn't have its back to you, everyone can see it all happening.

mon-fri 7am-10:30

sat-sun 12noon-10:30

Thanks for providing your hours ... luckily between the snow and my being a bit under the weather, I didn't come tromping out at 9 a.m. today ... in fact still sitting at the computer and just got off a call with my sister-in-law, my fellow coffee geek and the jealous one since we live in a real coffee city and she is still trying to get the right beans for her new set up ... and the beat goes on, or the pour :cool:

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I went to the new park royal cafe artigiano for the first time today with my little troop.

not impressed.

gangster bandanas on half the pre-pubescent service staff, the majority of which operated with a grace reminiscent of the pleistocene. seriously pronounced brow ridge on the cro-magnon fellow who brought our food, constantly muttering curses at the people in his way, bandana bouncing, gold chain swinging in time with the lurking gait of newfound bipedalism and his own personal hiphop soundtrack.

almost entertaining to watch, but not nice to experience (for a $20 coffee and snack).

"hey, this stuff yours?" he asked me gruffly, pointing to the muffin and 2 sandwiches he carried...true quote, i kid you not.

coffee? really pretty. big deal.

my reuben sandwich. nothing special.

potential third space hangout? never.

perhaps, i assume, the new park royal location is finding its feet, because otherwise this is an overblown hype-balloon bound to burst.

andrew

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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I hope I'm not violating the rules by posting again here when the coffee talk is moving to another page but -

trudged through the snow yesterday to the Elysian Room for hands down the best espresso in town! Alistair and his crew are brewing some delicious 'naked' coffee and of course being the coffee-geek/foodie that I am, hung out for a while with the crowd.

I think the key components have been stated here already, all is fresh, very fresh and the nice bar-ware they use makes a difference, but none of this masks your espresso if it is not fresh and delicious - as their's is!

All I can say is that if you haven't been by for a coffee, you should add this stop to your route and then like myself you will be plotting when and how to make it part of your routine :hmmm:

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Just wanted to send out a general post to anyone interested in coffee in Vancouver. Run, don't walk to the Elysian Room. This is THE place for serious coffee drinkers in our town. I could go on (and on and on) but just go there if you are into coffee.

Now, I don't want to bad mouth any other shops, but one thing that makes this so true is that it is one shop and is still under control. As we see from all the discussion about Commercial St. location of JJBean and West Van Artigiano, this is part of the problem if it is one person's vision that is making things work, then it is hard to expand.

Interestingly enough, this is the real problem with *$, they have expanded to where they need auto-brew espresso and not skilled baristas and their shops are not out of control. [this the type of discussion one can have for real if one is hanging out at a good coffee shop like ER] :wink:

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Andrew,

I appreciate your candor in the evaluation of the cafe. I read your post last night, and by 9 o'clock this morning, I had dealt with it. My staff work too hard to have someone creating more work for them. That problem is resolved now.

Are we still finding our feet? Probably a little. When Artigiano Park Royal opened, we had planned on a quiet opening - it didn't happen. Our reputation precedes us, or so I keep getting told. I would have liked to have heard your comments in person. I can always learn more, and anyone willing to talk, I'm willing to borrow their knowledge.

Thanks Andrew,

Barrett.

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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I finally got a chance to try the lattes at The Elysian Room. What a treat! Rich, smooth, nuanced and definitely full of flavour. I will be back for more. Is it the best in town? I would have to say my experience there was better than at Cafe Artigiano and I think the product was as good as if not better than Cafe Artigiano. The Elysian Room is just a nicer destination - less crowded and delightful staff. CA was crowded and the set up of the machines impedes any real interaction between the staff and customers. Because of the lineups at CA they just process you as quickly as possible so there is no experience. I have to say that the beverages were excellent but given the choice I would head back to the Elysian Room in a heartbeat. Nice to know they are on the way to work :biggrin:. The only trick will be dueling it out with all the B'Mers for a parking place. But the reward will be worth it.

Cheers,

Karole

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