vancouver chinatown propaganda coffee

Vancouver Coffee Walks: The Main St Golden Triangle

This Vancouver Coffee Walking / Cycling Route is designed to sample cafes from Vancouver’s historic downtown core through to Vancouver East. You will be cycling through Coal Harbour, Gastown, Main Street, Chinatown, and Commercial Drive created by a digital nomad raised on the West Coast and now mostly based in East AsiaThe areas mentioned have cafe clusters, so it is possible to take public transit to each of the areas and walk around if you do not want to cycle. Most places are remote-work friendly, but may not have Wi-Fi.

Moja Coffee North Vancouver Espresso

Moja Coffee’s Espresso Macchiato — Photo by Athena Lam

I make limited recommendations based on what seems to be…somewhat reasonable amount of caffine to intake for a day. Each of the areas — Gastown, Chinatown, Broadway and Main Street, Commercial Drive, and East Hastings — are worth spending half a day in and have between 3-6 cafes clustered around to try. I would recommend bringing a friend as Vancouver drinks are usually double shots. 🙂

Vancouver Coffee Rides Map (For your phone)

I’ve also created an open map of my suggested route. You can do the following with this map:

  • See the full list of independent cafes (in addition to the ones I mention in the post)
  • Pre-load it / save it on your phone (with Google Maps)
  • Keep it open on your phone without Wi-Fi (as long as you don’t restart it or close Google Maps)

*Note: Independent cafes to me means fewer than 5 shops (which is why places like Caffe Artigiano, Beans Around the World, and JJ Bean do not appear.

Begin in Gastown and Coal Harbour

Vancouver Harbourfront Park Coal Harbour Canada Place North Shore

Vancouver Harbourfront Park in Coal Harbour via Instagram

Begin your day at Gastown and pick up a coffee to go at Revolver Coffee.

Bring it to the Coal Harbour Convention Area (photo above) and park to enjoy your first cup with a spectacular morning view of the North Shore Mountains.

Macchiato at Timbertrain Coffee Roasters in Gastown Vancouver

Timbertrain’s macchiato — Photo by Athena Lam

Cycle back to Gastown and try another cup at Timbertrain Coffee Roasters.

False Creek Recreational Path to Main Street

Rocanini Roasters on West 5th

A generous ‘regular’ macchiato from the roastery — Photo by Athena Lam

When you’re done, cut through downtown over to the False Creek Recreational Path. You can choose where you’d like to enter it. You can cycle straight south, down towards Burrard or Cambie Bridge. I personally prefer the more scenic and car-free cycle towards Science World to enter it. Exit around Olympic Village.

Head over to Rocanini Coffee Roasters in a hidden area with some quirky places. (Foodie Tip: Solly’s Bagels makes a great side detour towards Cambie Bridge for a snack, but you’ll need to double back. It’s on the map.)

Next, climb the slight hill to head to – what I call – Vancouver’s Golden Coffee Triangle at  Main Street around Broadway.

Bike Tip: If you are on Ontario, watch out for the steep hill around Broadway. The residential roads are gorgeous in the summer with the tall, leafy trees, but watch out for cars at the roundabouts.

Main Street Cafes

49th Parallel Macchiato and Luckys Doughnuts

49th Parallel macchiato and Luckys Doughnuts via Instagram

You could stay in this area all day if you wanted. It’s a hipster area with boutiques, small cafes (the food type), restaurants, and specialty shops.

Try 49th Parallel Roasters, which also has Lucky’s Doughnuts inside. (Foodie Tip: There is also another famous doughnut place down Main Street called ___. I highly recommend you get a combo.

Beta 5 Chocolates Industrial Ave Main St Vancouver

Not a cream puff person, but Beta 5 Chocolates changed my mind via Instagram

Gene Coffee Bar on Main St

Outside seating along the glass walls on both sides of the cafe for people watching. — Photo by Athena Lam

Slide back down the hill to Chinatown.

Food Tip: Head over to Beta 5 Chocolates in the photo above for some of the best cream puffs you’ll ever have (or a chocolate Sunday). It’s on the map!

Chinatown Cafes

Matchstick Coffee Roasters Chinatown

Two macchiatos waiting to be claimed at the bar via Instagram

Chinatown used to be the community hub for the Chinese until its recent gentrification (and Richmond’s mushrooming population). Many people knew it for the ‘druggies’ who were in the alleys. It still has a needle clinic at the Hastings corner. I knew it for the awesome, rowdy grocers, butchers, and fishmongers. It also had an amazing fishball noodle place, until the restaurant caught fire in 2014. After that, the Vietnamese community started growing. Now, it’s been redeveloped into a historic district – with trendy new cafes and some great gastropubs.

I recommend checking out the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden which is free.

  1. Check out Matchstick Coffee Roasters
  2. Propaganda Cafe is a great alternative.
  3. Next, take the Union / Adanac Cycling route to Commercial Drive (follow the map between G & H. This route goes through quiet residential streets and passes by Strathcona Park, which is a great hang-out place. You will also see many well-kept Vancouver wooden Victorian houses.

Adanac Cycling Route to Commercial Drive

prado cafe cappuccino

Prado Cafe was one of Vancouver’s earliest Third Wave cafes — Photo by Athena Lam

Commercial Drive is known for two (maybe three) things: the Italian community, the lesbian community, and maybe the hippie-tree-hugging-local-organic communities. I used to cycle across town here every weekend, so I happen to love them all. True to its Italian roots, this place goes crazy during the Eurocup and World Cup, and has plenty of Italian diner-style espresso bars serving super sweet pastries to go with a formidable espresso shot (not quite like the rest of Vancouver’s West Coast style coffee).

For Third Wave espresso drinkers, pay tribute to the original Prado Cafe on Commercial Drive. They have a downtown location, but the original has been around long before Third Wave Coffee picked up. Sammy Piccolo is the legendary 4-time Canadian Barista Champion!

Next, head further East into a rougher side of town for the dedicated foodies and coffee hunters.

East Hastings Coffee

Platform 7 Cafe on East Hastings

On the rugged East End of Vancouver, you’ll find a splash of London serving a dash of Italian espresso. — Photo by Athena Lam

Choose either a residential road or the more direct (but heavy traffic) East Hastings route to Platform 7 for some Stumptown Coffee served in a London train station-themed cafe.

Foodie Tip: Best be hungry around this time. Hop across the street to Mr. Red Cafe for some awesome Vietnamese Pho noodles. The portions are quite filling.

Lastly, follow East Hastings back towards downtown. You’ll get a feel for the rougher side of Vancouver, where you can still find thrift shops and no-nonsense grocers. This part of Vancouver is quickly disappearing as gentrification continues to expand (beginning from Gastown to Chinatown).

Goliath Coffee Roasters at Makerlabs

Goliath Coffee Roasters at Makerlabs via Instagram.

Visit the location of Goliath Coffee, which is a brand you might have seen in The Capilano in Gastown. or other places throughout the Lower Mainland. What makes this location special is that it is in a 26,000 sq feet makerspace known as MakerLabs. You can enjoy your coffee in a unique location with comfortable sofas, super high rafters, and all sorts of interesting projects and raw materials around you.

When you’re done, head back to Gastown and Chinatown for dinner. There are a wealth of options in that area, ranging from gastropubs to push contemporary West Coast restaurants, sushi places, and oyster bars with happy hours (if you make it by 5pm). One of my personal favourites is Nicli Pizzarea between Chinatown and Gastown. It’s pretty true to the Neapolitan-style pizza – and I’ve been to Naples. 🙂

Happy riding! If you have recommendations, please share them and you’ll be credited!

If you liked this coffee walk, check out my other cafe lists and coffee walk:

Giant Merida Scultura Evo 904

Giant Merida Scultura Evo 904, originally from Hong Kong

PS: Here is my trusty steed, which I first found second-hand in Hong Kong, rode over the UK with, and brought to Vancouver as well for the route above. 

Vancouver (Canada)
prado cafe cappuccino

Vancouver Cafes: Prado Cafe (Downtown Eastside)

A review of an independent coffee house, Prado Cafe (Vancouver downtown Eastside branch). 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.

prado cafe cappuccino

6oz cappuccino at Prado Cafe (Gastown) — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

prado cafe gastown

Prado Cafe sits on East Hastings in the Downtown East Side– Photo by Athena Lam

Since its beginnings on Commercial Drive before Third Wave Coffee took over Vancouver, Prado Cafe has expanded to include 2 additional locations. One is at Fraser, and the other one is in the gentrified Downtown Eastside between Gastown and Chinatown.

prado cafe gastown

Spacious seating — Photo by Athena Lam

As one of the many revitalised buildings in the district, Prado has kept subtle details such as the wooden floorboards and the mantle of the unused fireplace. The interior’smetallicc chairs are true to its no-frills Commercial Drive roots and gesture to bygone decades.

Free Wi-Fi is available, but I didn’t notice plugs.

prado cafe gastown

A range of in-house baked goods & health foods at Prado — Photo by Athena Lam

The cafe menu, in contrast, is up-to-date with current trends (think home-made granola). The cafe makes everything in-house and visitors can choose from a range of baked goods and light meal items. The health conscious can probably find something suitable.

prado cafe gastown

A pretty cool menu approach — Photo by Athena Lam

prado cafe cappuccino

Drink options include a 4oz macchiato and 6 oz cappuccino — Photo by Athena Lam

My cappuccino was well frothed, but the actual coffee was, sadly, watery. This is surprising given the standard that Prado should have, and that Vancouver drinks come with standard double shots. However, given the reputation of the owner, and my positive impression of their Commercial Drive home branch, I would be willing to try this location again.

Also, as a local tip, tea drinkers can try a London Fog is a drink that originated in Vancouver.

Prado Cafe Story / What I Like About Them:

prado cafe gastown

Prado’s glass walls are great for watching the characters that pass by — Photo by Athena Lam

I have a particular attachment to the area around Pidgeon Park, a congregation point for Vancouver’s homeless and left behind. Before independent cafes like Nelson the Seagull and Prado started cropping up after the area’s revitalisation, many Vancouverites would opt to circle around the streets between Gastown and Chinatown. However, Prado’s home on The Drive was also once a slightly rough area, home to people with lower incomes. I was glad to see it open directly on East Hastings when it could have chosen a “safer” street just a block or two over.

 

prado cafe gastown

Not bad for meetings — Photo by Athena Lam

Another part of the Prado story is that Sammy Piccolo (and his family) deserve a lot of credit for building Vancouver’s Third Wave Coffee foundation. Prado Cafe’s owner-operator, Sammy Piccolo is a four-time Canadian Barista Champion, first ever winner of World Latte Art Championship, winner at the Coffee Fest Latte Art Championship, and four-time top-three placement for Canada at the World Barista Championships.

He was also a partner at Caffé Artigiano, a popular Vancouver coffee chain that was sold in 2005, and is a current partner at 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, a family business. I’ll be honest — Caffé Artigiano I have always disliked for a variety of reasons despite visiting many times with friends; 49th Parallel, however, I love.

prado cafe 49th parallel

Prado Cafe serves local Vancouver roaster 49th Parallel Coffee — Photo by Athena Lam

Finally, many of Vancouver’s independent cafes take a stance on supporting local, which I personally appreciate given the Lower Mainland’s abundance of fertile farmland. Prado is no different. Their food is made with free range eggs, and mostly local and organic ingredients.

prado cafe gastown

Prado is a great place for people watching in Vancouver’s historically rough neighbourhood — Photo by Athena Lam

Good For:

  • Coffee: 49th Parallel beans, espressos
  • Food: Pastries, light snacks.
  • Cafe Space:
  • Friends: Hangouts, catching up, reading
  • Workspace: Handful of tables, communal table
  • Remote Work: Free Wi-Fi available
Address:  100 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1G8
Website:  Website / Facebook
Hours: Weekdays: 7:00am-6:00pm
Weekends: 8:00am-5:00pm

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

Vancouver (Canada)
vancouver chinatown propaganda coffee

Vancouver Cafes: Propaganda Coffee (Chinatown)

A review of an independent coffee roaster, Propaganda Coffee in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. Notes are by an amateur coffee enthusiast and shoestring digital nomad. Descriptions are equal parts coffee and remote-work suitability. 

vancouver chinatown propaganda coffee

Cafe Overview:

Propaganda Coffee Chinatown Vancouver

Propaganda Coffee is in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown — Photo by Athena Lam

Located along Chinatown’s former main grocery street, Propaganda Coffee has been quietly serving some of Vancouver’s best Third Wave coffee.

For someone used to Tokyo-sized cafes, Propaganda is humongous. The cavernous space is washed with white walls and spaced out seating.

vancouver chinatown propaganda coffee

A mix of hip and minimalist — Photo by Athena Lam

Wi-Fi is available, so choose your most comfortable workspot, whether it’s by the windows, long-table or cart-sofa.

First, head over to the modern counter with its Modbar tap espresso machine. The simple menu is on the wall and the selection of beans is right of the cashier.

Propaganda Coffee Chinatown Vancouver

High ceilings and spread out seating sections for patrons with different tastes — Photo by Athena Lam

You know a cafe is serious about its beans when those are the only items on its single-page website. Propaganda is one of the few cafes in Vancouver that serves single-origin pour-over as well as espresso drinks.

vancouver chinatown propaganda coffee

West Coast-style double-shot default cappuccino — Photo by Athena Lam

I ordered a cappuccino, which they used Phil and Sebastian beans for. The extraction came with a punchy aromatic note that was different from the typical nutty espresso roast. The milk was perfectly frothed with a wet foam layer and milk mix.

My friend ordered a latte, which came as a generous 12 oz bowl-cup.

This is easily one of my top 5 cafes in Vancouver just for the coffee alone. The spacious seating and central location are both big bonuses.

Their Story / What I like About Them:

vancouver chinatown propaganda coffee

— Photo by Athena Lam

The 5 neat rows of coffee bags beside the cashier immediately sold me. Propaganda does not roast in-house, but they have excellent taste in their selection (or at least it matches mine). Bows & Arrows, one of the most respected roasters in BC, was one of the options. Elyssian Room I credit for bringing pour-over / French press culture to Vancouver about a decade ago. Timbertrain and Phil and Sebastian are also in my top 5 for consistent quality.

Propaganda Coffee Chinatown Vancouver

Coffee bean selection is rotated and teas are are also on offer — Photo by Athena Lam

Opened in early 2015, Propaganda seems to have shied away from too much publicity. The coffee grapevine tells me that William Wang and Winfield Yan are the owner-operators of this new establishment. Wang had trained at Caffe Artigiano and Prado Cafe on The Drive, both at one point owned by Canadian Barista Champion Sammy Piccolo.

Propaganda Coffee Chinatown Vancouver

Propaganda Coffee’s Modbar espresso machine — Photo by Athena Lam

Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso, pour-over. Rotating local bean selection
  • Food: Sandwiches, light pastries
  • Cafe Space: Open setting and spacious Seats approx 20 people.
  • Friends: Hangouts, catching up, working
  • Workspace: Individual bar tables, coffee tables, long-table.
  • Remote Work: Wi-Fi and some plugs available
Address:   209 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T8
Website:   Website / Facebook
Hours (Daily): 8:00am -6:00pm

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

Vancouver (Canada)
EVR Vancouver PHS

Vancouver Cafes: East Van Roasters (Gastown)

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

East Van Roasters Cappuccino — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

EVR Vancouver PHS

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

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:

EVR Vancouver PHS

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

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.

EVR Vancouver PHS

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

EVR Vancouver PHS

— 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
Hours:

 

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.

Vancouver (Canada)
Moja Coffee North Vancouver Espresso

Vancouver Coffee Rides: Historic Gastown and East Van

This Vancouver Coffee Cycling Route is designed to sample cafes from Vancouver’s historic downtown core through to Vancouver East. You will be cycling through Coal Harbour, Gastown, Main Street, Chinatown, and Commercial Drive.

I make limited recommendations based on what I think people could actually take. It’s probably still too high, so bring a friend!

Vancouver Coffee Rides Map

This is free and downloadable to your phone. As long as it is pre-loaded, you do not need to have Wi-Fi.

Also, I’ve included all the other independent cafes (which to me are fewer than 5 stores) I’ve mentioned previously so that you can check them out too if you want alternatives.

Begin in Gastown and Coal Harbour

Vancouver Harbourfront Park Coal Harbour Canada Place North Shore

Vancouver Harbourfront Park in Coal Harbour

Begin your day at Gastown and pick up a coffee to go at Revolver Coffee.

Bring it to the Coal Harbour Convention Area and parks to enjoy your first cup with a spectacular morning view of the North Shore Mountains.

Macchiato at Timbertrain Coffee Roasters in Gastown Vancouver

Timbertrain’s macchiato

Cycle back to Gastown and try another cup at Timbertrain Coffee Roasters.

When you’re done, cut through downtown over to the False Creek Recreational Path. You can choose where you’d like to enter it. You can cycle straight south, down towards Burrard or Cambie Bridge. I personally prefer the more scenic and car-free cycle towards Science World to enter it. Exit around Olympic Village.

Rocanini Roasters on West 5th

A generous ‘regular’ macchiato from the roastery

Head over to Rocanini Coffee Roasters in a hidden area with some quirky places. (Foodie Tip: Solly’s Bagels makes a great side detour towards Cambie Bridge for a snack, but you’ll need to double back. It’s on the map.)

Gene Coffee Bar on Main St

Outside seating along the glass walls on both sides of the cafe for people watching

Next, climb the slight hill to head to – what I call – Vancouver’s Golden Coffee Triangle at  Main Street around Broadway.

Bike Tip: If you are on Ontario, watch out for the steep hill around Broadway. The residential roads are gorgeous in the summer with the tall, leafy trees, but watch out for cars at the roundabouts.

Main Street Cafes

You could stay in this area all day if you wanted.. It’s a hipster area with boutiques, small cafes (the food type), restaurants, and specialty shops.

49th Parallel Macchiato and Luckys Doughnuts

49th Parallel macchiato and Luckys Doughnuts via Instagram

Try 49th Parallel Roasters, which also has Lucky’s Doughnuts inside. I highly recommend you get a combo. The doughnuts come in traditional favourites such as plain and usually chocoalate. In the summer, I’ve gotten passion fruit, and around Christmas I tried pistachio cranberry.

Beta 5 Chocolates Main St Vancouver

Mint Chocolate Eclair to devour on the spot.

Food Tip: Head over to Beta 5 Chocolates for some of the best cream puffs you’ll ever have (or a chocolate Sunday). It’s on the map! The photo is of the eclair because all my other shots were just of the gorgeous nest cream puff. Each flavour comes with entirely different constructions, whether it’s a swirl, a cut top, or – as I maneionted – an egg in a nest!

Slide back down the hill to Chinatown.

Chinatown Cafes

Chinatown used to be the community hub for the Chinese until its recent gentrification (and Richmond’s mushrooming population). Many people knew it for the ‘druggies’ who were in the alleys. It still has a needle clinic at the Hastings corner. I knew it for the awesome, rowdy grocers, butchers, and fishmongers. It also had an amazing fishball noodle place, until the restaurant caught fire in 2014. After that, the Vietnamese community started growing. Now, it’s been redeveloped into a historic district – with trendy new cafes and some great gastropubs.

I recommend checking out the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden which is free.

Matchstick Coffee Roasters Chinatown

Two macchiatos waiting to be claimed at the bar via Instagram

Check out Matchstick Coffee Roasters.

Propaganda Cafe is a great alternative.

Strathcona Park Adanac Union Cycling Vancouver

Strathcona Park along the Adanac Union Cycling Route Vancouver

Next, take the Union / Adanac Cycling route to Commercial Drive (follow the map between G & H. This route goes through quiet residential streets and passes by Strathcona Park, which is a great hang-out place. You will also see many well-kept Vancouver wooden Victorian houses.

Commercial Drive

Commercial Drive is known for two (maybe three) things: the Italian community, the lesbian community, and maybe the hippie-tree-hugging-local-organic communities. I used to cycle across town here every weekend, so I happen to love them all. True to its Italian roots, this place goes crazy during the Eurocup and World Cup, and has plenty of Italian diner-style espresso bars serving super sweet pastries to go with a formidable espresso shot (not quite like the rest of Vancouver’s West Coast style coffee).

For Third Wave espresso drinkers, pay tribute to the original Prado Cafe on Commercial Drive. They have a downtown location, but the original has been around long before Third Wave Coffee picked up. Sammy Piccolo is the legendary 4-time Canadian Barista Champion!

Platform 7 Cafe on East Hastings

On the rugged East End of Vancouver, you’ll find a splash of London serving a dash of Italian espresso.

Next, head further East through rugged East Hastings to Platform 7 for some Stumptown Coffee served in a London train station-themed cafe.

Mr Red Cafe Pho Noodles East Vancouver

Pho noodles at Mr. Red Cafe on East Hastings

Foodie Tip: Best be hungry around this time. Hop across the street to Mr. Red Cafe for some awesome Vietnamese Pho noodles. The portions are quite filling.

Lastly, follow East Hastings back towards downtown. You’ll get a feel for the rougher side of Vancouver, where you can still find thrift shops and no-nonsense grocers. This part of Vancouver is quickly disappearing as gentrification continues to expand (beginning from Gastown to Chinatown).

Goliath Coffee Roasters at Makerlabs

Goliath Coffee Roasters at Makerlabs.

Visit the location of Goliath Coffee, which is a brand you might have seen in The Capilano in Gastown. or other places throughout the Lower Mainland. What makes this location special is that it is in a 26,000 sq feet makerspace known as MakerLabs. You can enjoy your coffee in a unique location with comfortable sofas, super high rafters, and all sorts of interesting projects and raw materials around you.

When you’re done, head back to Gastown and Chinatown for dinner. There are a wealth of options in that area, ranging from gastropubs to push contemporary West Coast restaurants, sushi places, and oyster bars with happy hours (if you make it by 5pm). One of my personal favourites is Nicli Pizzeria between Chinatown and Gastown. It’s Vancouver’s first certified VPN Neapolitan-style pizza. I’ve been to Naples, and I’d have to agree it’s pretty true to that other coastal town on the Continent. 🙂

Happy riding!

Over to you. Would love to have more local input. What are your favourite cycling coffee routes? They will be added and you will be credited!

PS: Here’s my happy steed. It was originally found in Hong Kong, second hand, brought over to the UK for a cycling trip, and finally has a home in good old Vancouver.

Giant Merida Scultura Evo 904

Giant Merida Scultura Evo 904, originally from Hong Kong

Coffee / Cafes Vancouver (Canada)
Makerlabs Makerspace Vancouver Goliath Coffee Kavhe Chai Aslan Chai

Vancouver Cafes: Goliath Coffee @ Makerlabs

This is a review of an independent cafe by a amateur coffee enthusiast and shoestring digital nomad. Descriptions are equal parts coffee and remote-work suitability.

The Cafe Overview:

Makerlabs Makerspace Vancouver Goliath Coffee Kavhe Chai Aslan Chai

The awesome swing and bookshelves near the entrance.

Meet Vancouver’s only coffee roasted out of a makerspace. I’d first discovered Goliath Coffee when I walked past The Capilano in Gastown. Then, I stumbled on their roasting corner laid out for all the public to see when I was touring MakerLabs.

Goliath Coffee is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, as they are specialty roasters. I came on a Friday, so I got a sample of their brew from Kahve Chai, which is by the entrance of MakerLabs. The beans are air roasted at the back of the ground floor in 1kg batches, hand-packed, and distributed to cafes and shops throughout the Lower Mainland.

Makerlabs Makerspace Vancouver Goliath Coffee

Goliath Coffee’s corner in Makerlabs.

MakerLabs is a membership-only space. However, the public can go in to the shop and the cafe. Since it’s in industrial strip close to the container port, people don’t know to come for good coffee. That translates to a visitor having the entire lounge area to themselves. The building doesn’t have free Wi-Fi, but there are are definitely outlets somewhere for you to charge your laptop. It’s a great space to work out of flexibly: on the floor, the coffee tables, a sofa, or even a swing!

Makerlabs Makerspace Vancouver Goliath Coffee Kavhe Chai Aslan Chai

My black from Kahve Chai / Aslan Chai.

Kahve Chai is run by the owner of Aslan Chai and open on weekdays. My last intelligence was that the Goliath team are working on the perfect cold brew, which is perfect for summer. In the meantime, you can enjoy an espresso or pour over coffee. Goliath has two light roasts for sale that have a balanced flavour. For people from Asia, it may still count as a medium or dark roast because it is more savoury as compared to the fruity options common to Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Their Coffee Backstory / Why I Like Them:

 

Makerlabs Makerspace Vancouver

The area you can enjoy your coffee in at Makerlabs.

In a town where the battle to be called a worthy roaster is fierce, Goliath Coffee hit my soft spots. Firstly, it’s one of the only roasters that specialises in beans from one country: Cameroon (AGRO Coffee Roasters did too when it began). It’s tough to take a stance when purchasers have the power to scour the world for good quality beans at bargain prices. Goliath’s name actually comes from the Goliath Frog that is native to Cameroon and the company donates its proceeds back to conserve the rainforests that it inhabits.

Secondly, they put farmers in their first line. The three words they bold are freshness, flavour, and farmers. Business is business. The first bottom-line is that it remains cash-flow positive. That’s not good enough, for me. Good business brings benefits to all stakeholders. I give major points to people who find a way to align their core values with profits. Goliath’s figured it out by emphasising, along with other independent Vancouver roasters, that great beans begins with great, long-lasting partnerships, beginning with the people who grow the beans thousands of miles away.

Lastly, the roasting operations is in a communal makerspace. I think it says something about a company that leaves all their beans and equipment for everyone to see, knowing that there’ll be plenty of traffic in and out.

Goliath Coffee fresh beans at Makerlabs

Bean samples left for anyone to check out.

Good For:

  • Coffee: Pour-over. Cold Brew (working on it)
  • Food: Not really
  • Cafe Space: Open lounge area in front of Kahve Chai
  • Friends: Hangouts & catching up
  • Workspace: Great for quiet workspace as people don’t know to come!
Address:  780 E Cordova St Vancouver, BC V6A
Website:  http://goliathcoffee.com/
Hours: Wednesdays & Saturdays (Goliath), office hours (Kahve Chai)

If you liked this post, check out my full list of Vancouver’s Best Independent Cafes (with contributions from Redditors).

Coffee / Cafes Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver Cafes: Moja Coffee

This is a review of an independent cafe by a amateur coffee enthusiast and shoestring digital nomad. Descriptions are equal parts coffee and remote-work suitability.

Moja Coffee North Vancouver

Entrance to an unassuming grey corner block

The Cafe Overview:

Opened in 2003, Moja Coffee has been quietly supplying beans to a smattering of cafes and shops throughout the Lower Mainland. I went to their original shop in North Vancouver, which is in a quiet street with silver Lego-block container buildings. North Vancouver gems seem to have a penchant for odd locations and buildings that seem to be construction offices that never got removed (MEC, Arctery’x, even Thomas Haas). It adds charm to the scavenger hunt.

Moja Coffee North Vancouver Patio

Patio seating area

Moja Coffee’s location means that it’ll never get too crowded. It serves the informed locals and coffee fanatics who make a point of swinging by to get a cup, often to go. There’s a patio facing a quiet street and covered by a tree or two. Inside, the space is simple and divided in clean lines between the counter and the seating area with long tables.

I tried their (Vancouver-style) macchiato and two different Americano beans. The milk was well frothed, with a good consistent texture and smooth foam. What especially delighted me was that the fruity notes surfaced at the end with a kick. (See additional description below). They also have pastries to remote workers filled!

Moja Coffee North Vancouver Espresso

Moja Coffee’s Espresso Macchiato

I recommend this place for people who like a quiet work space and friendly staff. This isn’t the typical type of cafe that has buzz and street traffic. The longer you stay, the longer it feels like a sleek, modern private office. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and I don’t recall seeing outlets. However, this is a unique space to lay out your things and do some mind mapping, story-boarding and big-picture drawing.

Their Coffee Backstory / Why I Like Them

Moja Coffee Beans Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

Moja Lab Series Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelbesa

If you like making your own beans, I recommend trying the Moja Lab series. These are microlot roasts that have experimental flavours that document essential information (such as type of beans, process, harvest, grower, cupping notes, and roast metre). I tried the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelbesa, which delivered on its promise of fruity (blueberry) aroma with a chocolate finish.

For cyclists, Moja Coffee is on a green cycling path from Lonsdale Quay, which is accessible by ferry from downtown. For those on the East End, make this your destination after crossing the Second Narrows Bridge!

Lastly, if this location is a bit too out of the way, head to their cafe on Commercial Drive.

Moja Coffee North Vancouver Barista Carson

Carson pouring my drink!

Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso
  • Food: Pastries
  • Cafe Space: Around 20, with window bar stools, indoor long tables, and outside patio
  • Friends: Hangouts & catching up
  • Workspace: Great for work, especially planning and spreading your stuff out. No Wi-Fi.
Address: 1412 Rupert St, North Vancouver, BC V7J 1E9
Website: http://www.mojacoffee.com
Hours: Mondays to Saturdays: 7:30am – 5:00pm
Sundays: 9am – 3:00pm

If you liked this post, check out my list and map of Vancouver’s Best Independent Cafes (with additional contributions from the Reddit Community).

Coffee / Cafes Vancouver (Canada)