A review of an independent coffee roaster, East Van Roasters in Gastown, Vancouver. Notes are by an amateur coffee enthusiast and shoestring digital nomad. Descriptions are equal parts coffee and remote-work suitability. Most photos are shot with a second-hand Fujifilm X100.

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East Van Roasters Cappuccino — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

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EVR is right beside Nelson the Seagull in Gastown — Photo by Athena Lam

I stumbled upon East Van Roasters while heading to one of Gastown’s many other independent coffee shops on one of those frigid winter afternoons with a distinct West Coast dampness that leeches all heat and comfort out of you no matter how many layers you put on.

It looked independent. It was warm. It had seating. That was enough for a quick fix.

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Outer seating area with a view of the chocolate lab — Photo by Athena Lam

The cafe is brightly lit and wraps you in a cozy calm warmth that seems a million miles away from the rugged streets outside. I don’t think there’s Wi-Fi or plugs here, but the tables at the back make great places for an hour or two of work.

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Cafe back seating area — Photo by Athena Lam

I ordered a cappuccino (pictured above) to test out the coffee, which they roast in-house weekly. The foam is done nicely and I liked the temperature. The coffee itself fell a bit flat and was both a bit too acidic and burnt. The pricepoint is great value (something like CAD 3.50), there are other places within a 5-minute walking radius that I would rather go.

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Mayan spiced hot cocolate — Photo by Athena Lam

However, I highly recommend the hot chocolate. Though the CAD 4.75 price tag seems hefty at first, the bowl is gigantic. The chocolate is mild, with plenty of milk mixed in. The foam at the top is perfectly done and infused consistently with the liquid beneath. The chili kicks in after you’ve swallowed the rich, sweet and savoury drink, adding a perfect finish to cut through the heaviness (so that you can continue drinking, of course).

Other hot chocolate flavours are available, but I’d highly recommend the original Mayan drink.

East Van Roasters Story / What I Like About Them:

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The Ranier Hotel is a restored historic building housing a community program — Photo by Athena Lam

As I was leaving, a block of text near the ceiling caught my eye:

East Van Roasters is a non-profit initiative benefiting the women residents of the Ranier Hotel

A bit more research revealed that East Van Roasters has two things I highly support: 1) employment of marginalised individuals who create great products and 2) sustinable sourcing.

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Shelley Bolton trained at Madre Chocolate in Hawaii for 2 years — Photo by Athena Lam

In a day and age where we have so many options for quality products, I prefer to contribute directly to someone’s livelihood than add my dollar to another listed company’s annual billion-dollar earnings. East Van Roasters is run by the Portland House Society (PHS), a non-profit founded in 1991 to provide housing, services, employment, and advocacy for people left behind by Vancouver’s gentrification and skyrocketing standard of living.

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EVR employs marginalised women with a history of drug addiction  — Photo by Athena Lam

Secondly, I believe that the foundation of quality is based on sustainable partnerships along the supply chain. As the most traded commodity after oil, coffee is a great example of our globally connected world. East Van Roasters directly trades with organic farmers. Their cocoa is srouced from the Conacado co-op in the Dominican Republic and Pangoa, Peru. Their EVR espresso beans are roasted in-house weekly.

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One of gentrification’s virtues is preservation of old buildings — Photo by Athena Lam

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— Photo by Athena Lam

Fun fact: The cafe’s Managing Director Shelley Bolton volunteered to work for free to train under award-winning Madre Chocolate in Oahu, Hawaii. Two years later, she returned to Vancouver to open EVR in 2013.

Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso-based drinks. (Actually, their hot chocolate is better.)
  • Food: Pastries, light snacks.
  • Cafe Space: 16-seat seats
  • Friends: Hangouts, catching up, can even play board games (saw someone playing Bananagrams)
  • Workspace: Handful of large tables, work ledges.
  • Remote Work: No Wi-Fi or plugs
Address:  319 Carrall Street, Vancouver
Website:  Website / Facebook


Mon: 9:00am-2:00pm
Tues-Fri: 9:00am-5:00pm
Sat: 10:00am-5:00pm

If you liked this post, check out my post Vancouver Coffee Rides: Gastown and East Van.

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