I took a trip to Vancouver, and was shocked at how bad the coffee scene there was. For whatever reason, this major Canadian city had few cafés that I can recommend in good faith. As with the Seattle list, I rate them by coffee quality alone, and order an espresso and a pour over/drip.
- Revolver: 5/5. Revolver is likely my favorite café in Vancouver, and it nails so many things. They offer beans from roasters around the world for purchase, and have multiple offerings for both espresso and pour over (more than a lot of other cafés, anyway). Their Intelligentsia espresso was delicious: fruity but balanced. The House of Funk espresso was bizarre, but not in a bad way: it was weird to drink an espresso that had whisky notes.
- Platform 7: 5/5. One of the easiest places to recommend: it’s very hard to find a place to sit here because of how many people visit, for good reason. The espresso was great, with tons of red cherry notes. Their espresso milkshake is spot on, too. Much to my delight, they offer siphon and Aeropress options, too, though I didn’t try those–I was much more intrigued by the cupping flight, and got to choose 3 origins. I chose Indonesia, Ecuador, and another one I cannot remember, but all of them were delicious. Platform 7 is a little expensive, but it’s money well-spent: it’s hard find coffee of that quality and variety anywhere else.
- Prado Café: 4.5/5. Prado is up there as one of Vancouver’s best cafés for sure. It’s owned by a former Canadian Barista Champion, so it has a strong pedigree. The espresso here was decent, but felt a little weak, but also silty like a French Press–I cannot explain it any other way. Their drip was delicious, and was juicy, with notes of lemon.
- Kafka’s: 4.5/5. The espresso here had tons of complexity, with cherry and cocoa notes. Their washed Yirgacheffe was, as expected, very floral and a clean cup. Very little to complain about here.
- Elysian: 4/5. Elysian fails with their espresso: it was weak and just didn’t have the quality that other cafés did. They make up for that in their drip, though, which was super interesting: I got notes of plum, raisin, and dark stone fruit. I just wish the espresso was better.
- JJ Bean: 3/5. JJ Bean is disappointing with the hype around it. The espresso was decent, if a bit over-extracted. Conversely, their drip was under-extracted. What little flavor was present, though, was at least pleasant. Once you got past the slight rubberiness, it had notes of chocolate and raisin.
- Coffeebar (Gastown): 3/5. This one was a surprise, because it wasn’t really on my list at all, and I just happened to be in the area. The espresso isn’t great, and is on the darker side of roast, but the Spanish latte and affogato were quite nice. The atmosphere is really nice, as well.
- Milano: 2/5. Milano was a disappointment as well. Their pour over was rubbery, and their espresso was bitter. Their menu is cool, but with the basics being bad, I didn’t order anything else.
- 49th Parallel: 1.5/5. This place had the same problems as Milano: rubbery drip and bitter espresso. It’s neat that they’ve partnered with Swift Cup for their instant coffee, but overall, this place is very difficult to recommend.
- Caffe Artigiano (North Vancouver): NA. I don’t have enough data to give this place any rating, but it’s definitely positive. It’s another place I discovered just by being in the area: they have surprisingly good espresso, and a great mocha. I didn’t get to try anything else, though.
Overall, I’m slightly disappointed with the coffee scene in Vancouver. Yes, there are several really good places, but it’s difficult to get excited about having visited Seattle. If you are in Vancouver, though, Platform 7 and Revolver are amazing cafés that are definitely worth a visit.