Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coffee Vancouver

Epic Espresso at 49th Parallel. Bright and tasty.

Did a quick tour of some of Vancouver's hippest coffee spots. By no means is this an exhaustive list of coffee joints, just the places that I visited - and I certainly was not highly motivated to visit a lot of places.

49th Parallel is arguably the leader in the Vancouver scene, with everyone else following somewhere behind. In the few short years that they've been open, they've done a remarkable job establishing themselves as a veritable force in the coffee business. From specialty, Third Wave coffee joints to my local William Sonoma - they're seemingly everywhere and more so than American darling Intelligentsia.

While I found the Epic Espresso to be pleasantly bright and acidic by itself, I did not fancy it in milk. To my tastes, it's definitely not a milk-friendly espresso. Better to leave the Epic all by itself and look elsewhere for an espresso to go into milk. Perhaps something with a but more chocolate character to round it out.

49th Piccolo Latte - too bright for milk.

Like Seattle in the United States, Vancouver has long been the leader in the Canadian coffee scene. But I'm here looking for something truly exciting in the PNW. I'm looking for innovative places doing innovative things while brewing up beautiful coffee and I'm finding much of the same. Shops here are either slaves to the Clover Automated Brewer or they're following the fashion of pour over drip bars. Nice but nothing really innovative to get excited about.

Drew had been telling me about a bakery cafe in the Fairmont Hotel that's supposedly serving great baked goods. Since my hotel is about a block away, off I went in the morning to seek out something tasty. There I found Giovanne Cafe, a hip and modern looking cafe with the requisite Fetco brewers and La Marzocco espresso machine. I asked the barista about their drip coffee and he replied with two brews: the Tiger Blend and the dark blend. I didn't ask much about the dark blend and went with the Tiger, along with some sugar and cream.

Tiger Blend drip at Giovanne Cafe. About average.

I wasn't really in the mood for espresso which is why I went for the drip. Not bad, about the same as your average coffee blend. Add some sugar and cream and it's an acceptable accompaniment to the very moist and tasty scone. Winner.

Back at the Hines Origins roastery, I had a nice cappuccino that was a bit on the fresh side (compared to our aged espresso at Spro)but a nice start to our breakfast platter provided by Tony (sorry Becca).

Giovanne White Chocolate Scone - moist and delicious.

From there, it was off to Momento - one of the newest coffee joints in the Vancouver scene and the only shop with a proper vac pot (syphon) bar. We hung out there talking coffee, coffee shop politics and recipes for a while before heading over to the new Elysian Coffee on Broadway.

Elysian is a long-standing local coffee house and this is their newest cafe. It's modern and hip-looking and they're serving coffee from 49th Parallel and Intelligentsia, though word on the street is that they're breaking away to roast their own coffee soon. The environment and presentation is clean and thoughtful though I found their "macchiatto" (quotes mine) to be rather odd.

Cappuccino at Hines.

The Elysian "macchiato" is a four ounce drink in a Gibraltar-style glass. It's easily one of the largest "macchiato" I've ever experienced. Second only in size to the Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, it's more along the lines of the 49th Piccolo Latte, Intelligentsia Gibraltar, Australian Flat White and the rest of the world's Cortado.

There's a lot more to check out in the Vancouver scene but I didn't want to make an entire day of touring cafes and drinking coffee. I had a ferry to catch! Next time we'll hit more cafes.

Breakfast by Tony.

Living the dream at Momento.

A 4oz "macchiatto"(huh?) at Elysian Coffee.

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