GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Taipei Cafes: GaBee Coffee

A review of the independent cafe, GaBee, in Songshan District in Taipei.  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.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Double-shot cappuccino — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

GaBee is located close to Zhongshan Junior High School Station — Photo by Athena Lam

Do a search for “Taipei coffee” and inevitably GaBee, will inevitably pop up. Until the recent coffee boom in the Songshan area, GaBee’s location seemed a bit out of the way, close to Songshan Airport and away from the commercial centres of Zhongxiao Dunhua, Ximen, the universities, or Taipei City Hall.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Quiet weekday morning — Photo by Athena Lam

Now, former Taiwan’s Barista Champion, Van Lin’s establishment boasts a chic futuristic decor inside its plain grey entrance. If you visit on a weekday, the cafe will be mostly quiet since cafe goers have plenty of other places on their to-try list throughout Taipei now.

This place makes for a great weekday remote work location. Wi-Fi is available but no plugs are along the front area. I didn’t check the back seating walls.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Seasonal creative coffee cocktails and standard options — Photo by Athena Lam

The drinks menu was quite interesting. Where more recent roasters have focused on creating the perfect roasts in a cup of simple black coffee, GaBee has embraced complexity and heterodoxy. The sweet drink mixes seemed to play to public tastes (more in the next sections), but I admit more than one cocktail caught the eye of this purist. If I wasn’t on a tasting schedule, I’d have tried two drinks here.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Cappuccino at GaBee — Photo by Athena Lam

As it is, I went with a standard drink for easier comparison: a cappuccino. I requested a double shot, which was an extra 20 TWD, and the stronger espresso blend. The drink I received had a smooth layer of foam that took up about 15-20% of the total space. The espresso had a strong, nutty punch that did deliver on the promise of Italy (in the Chinese description). The taste profile was designed to be smooth rather than textured, which I readily accepted.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

GaBee has 3 different espresso machines — Photo by Athena Lam

Their Story / What I like About Them:

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Various coffee-related items on display — Photo by Athena Lam

GaBee was founded in 2004, long before Third Wave coffee became a thing in Taiwan. The owner, Van Lin, became Taiwan’s Barista Champion that same year and has since been a public figure for East Asia’s coffee circles.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

— Photo by Athena Lam

 

Personally, I’m not one for titles. Knowing about them often makes me even more harsh on the apprentices that are now keeping shop for the famous owners. While the three staff in the shop seemed like they could do with an extra hour of sleep, they were helpful enough. Just as importantly, the drink I got was at least yummy.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

GaBee’s anniversary products — Photo by Athena Lam

GaBee is not a place I would want to line-up for, especially when I imagine the volumes that weekend crowds can orchestrate. However, it is definitely a place I would revisit for both the coffee and the workspace.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Co-Branded materials — Photo by Athena Lam

After visiting, I looked up Van Lin’s approach to coffee, which he summarized at a TEDxTaipei presentation. The talk (delivered in Mandarin), explained the creative drinks I saw on the menu. Lin’s approach was that nurturing interest in coffee first required meeting people where they were comfortable with being met: with familiar flavours and textures. Lin’s winning drink was a wonderful homage to Taiwan: a sweet potato coffee cocktail. The bottom was a sweet potato paste, espresso, frothed milk, potato chip, whipped cream, coffee bean, sweet potato slivers. Lin himself explains that it is more like a dessert and an amalgamation of his homeland roots and a beloved foreign / international drink. Since then, he’s gone on to create coffee drinks paired with watermelon, lychee, and even a tomato.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Co-branded materials — Photo by Athena Lam

The cafe’s commercial character is quite apparent, whether it be in the trophies, branded items, or co-branded collectibles. I generally find such things a distraction from the pursuit of the perfect cup. Yet, at the same time, someone has to be the evangelist for the industry. I’m glad to find that its commercial success, and its owner’s reputation, still preserves a certain standard of coffee quality.

GaBee Coffee Taipei Songshan

Pluses for supporting social causes like same-sex marriage — Photo by Athena Lam

Good For:

  • Coffee: Pour-over, espresso, coffee cocktails
  • Food: Pastries, measl
  • Cafe Space: Approx 30, back enclosed patio and main open space
  • Friends: Hangouts, catching up, reading
  • Workspace: Individual tables and round tables for 4
  • Remote Work: WiFi available, no outlets
Address:   民生東路三段113巷12號
No. 21, Lane 113, Section 3, Minsheng E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Website:  Website / Facebook
Hours: Weekdays: 9:30-22:00
Weekends: 9:00-22:00

If you liked this post, check out my list of Off-Centre Tokyo Cafes.

Taiwan
Ninety Plus Coffee Arabica Kyoto

SCAJ Tokyo Coffee Convention 2016 Recap

Ninety Plus Coffee Arabica Kyoto

World Brewers Cup Champion 2016 – Kasuya Tetsu brewing Ninety Plus Geisha Coffee — Photo by Athena Lam

Recap of the SCAJ Tokyo Coffee Convention (SCAJ 2016) in October, which had over 200,000 attendees over 3 days at the Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. With an entry fee of a mere ¥1000 with a pre-registration, visitors had access to unlimited tastings of Japan’s, and the world’s, best coffee suppliers. Check out the photos below on what to expect. Even though this event seems like a “trade show”, coffee fans will be delighted by the variety of quality beans, drinks, and equipment to try.

tokyo big site SCAJ

Tokyo Big Sight at Odaiba hosts many conventions — Photo by Athena Lam

Over 100 exhibitors.

Even though this classifies as a trade show, the admission fee is a mere ¥1000 if you pre-register and ¥1500 at the door. The ticket is valid for the entire 3 days.

I went with another coffee loving friend, so our mission was to try as many quality samples as possible. We didn’t have an agenda and just wandered around with the map.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Many stalls had pour-yourself samples — Photo by Athena Lam

The vendors come from every part of the coffee industry. One can find growers and co-ops from places in SE Asia or bean distributors. These, along with commercial roasters, will have coffee samples.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Coffee growers and distributors from around the world — Photo by Athena Lam

I went with a fellow foodie and coffee lover, Simone Chen, writer for Curiously Ravenous and Japan Times. Our mission was to try as much coffee as we could within an afternoon. For future visitors, I suggest you go all 3 days for a 1/2 day so that you can enjoy all the sample coffees.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

SCAJ 2016 only costed ¥1000 for 3 days entry — Photo by Athena Lam

Trade shows like these are great places to learn about the myriad of ways that coffee can be made, beginning with growing, picking, washing, and drying. As consumers become more educated about quality coffee, roasters have also become increasingly detailed about documenting their processes.

Personally, I always prefer roasters that document the exact farm the beans came from and their process methods (e.g. natural, honey, washed, full-washed).

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Natural processed beans — Photo by Athena Lam

Natural or Dried in the Fruit Process have no layers removed.

Honey Process removes the skin and pulp, but some or all of the mucilage (Honey) remains.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Honey-processed beans — Photo by Athena Lam

Washed Process – skin, pulp, and mucilage are removed using water and fermentation. Also called Fully Washed. This is the conventional form of Arabica coffee processing used in most parts of the world. It is possible to skip the fermentation step by using a high-tech pressure washing machine to remove the skin, pulp and some or all of the mucilage. This process is called Pulped Natural.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Distributor from Vietnam — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Bringing a little bit of culture — Photo by Athena Lam

Vendors included cooperatives and producers from around the world, such as Vietnam. We came across distributors from various African and Latin American countries as well.

Maruyama coffee

Kasuya Tetsu, World Brewers Cup 2016 Champion, was one of several award-winning baristas serving coffee  — Photo by Athena Lam

My best surprise discovery was Ninety Plus Coffee being served by the legendary Arabica Kyoto baristas serving coffee beans they had hand picked at the estates. Words cannot describe how fruity, aromatic, full-bodied and layered the small samples were. Some people might liken it to “tea” because it begins light, but if you let it wash over your tongue, one sip will reveal much more than a flat comparison.

Simone and I so loved the beans we had a small sample batch roasted on location in Kyoto weeks later.

A surprise to some, Arabica is actually headquartered in Hong Kong there and has just opened a new shop in the UAE. They are opening a host of places around the world in 2017, so you can check the cafe list here.

Maruyama coffee

My most savoured discovery at the SCAJ 2016 Ninety Plus — Photo by Athena Lam

maruyama coffee

Maruyama Coffee‘s Nakayama-sensei is a Syphon Champion is in Karuizawa — Photo by Athena Lam

We were also equally delighted to see another Japanese cafe recognised for its consistent quality (and gorgeous cafe concepts): Maruyama CoffeeOriginally from Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, I would recommend any visitor to check out how serenely the cafe integrates into its natural surroundings.

maruyama coffee SCAJ Tokyo

Maruyama Coffee has a long-term view in supporting its baristas — Photo by Athena Lam

Maruyama Coffee came with a full fleet of celebrated baristas, each with their own speciality. Tomoya Egashira represented Adachi Coffee and Miyuki Oguma from Itoya Coffee Factory served their sample piccolo lattes while the syphon masters focused on their single origin brews.

maruyama coffee

In Japan, service and passion are part of the coffee package — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Coffee, coffee everywhere — Photo by Athena Lam

As we cruised through the convention, we noted how many vendors had unique approaches to how they presented their goods. Some showed displays of brews. Others left samples out, while still others were holding workshops and tours.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

DCS also had samples — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Japan Barista Championship Finals — Photo by Athena Lam

We also stumbled on another treat: the Japan Barista Championships. The presentation was in a corner that attracted a crowd but had plenty of space for latecomers like us to find a comfortable spot to stand. The volume was perfect for us to hear the baristas explaining their drinks, without disrupting the rest of the event.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Miki Suzuki from Maruyama Coffee won 1st place — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Judges tasting Suzuki-sensei’s drinks — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Playing with the professional equipment like Simonelli — Photo by Athena Lam

At the back of the hall, we found most of the equipment vendors. Virtually every model of espresso machine from most of the major companies like Simonelli, Vittoria, and La Marzocco were on display and usable. Each brand either had a barista serving or testing machines for visitors to make their own customised drink (with professionals on the side to offer a hand if desired).

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

One of the machines we could use — Photo by Athena Lam

By then, we had drunken about 4-6 (small sample) cups and were rationing our last cups, so we just watched other people try demos.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Coffee tampers — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Stock up on your coffee equipment here — Photo by Athena Lam

minimal chocolate tokyo

Fellow foodie & coffee lover Simone Chen (Curiously Ravenous) — Photo by Athena Lam

Simone also introduced me to one of my new favourite chocolate makers, Minimal Chocolate. Minimal Chocolate is handmade in Tokyo and has meticulous documentation of the cocoa beans they source. Each source bean has its own flavour recipe and profile and when sampled together, the distinct characters of the cocoa beans (from fruity and wine-like, to savoury, to spiced, to fragrant and smooth) becomes apparent.

minimal chocolate tokyo

Minimal Chocolate is a local Tokyo small-batch brand — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Roasters on demo — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Green bean distributors — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Where coffee meets sci fi & robotics — Photo by Athena Lam

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Hario‘s classic coffee brewing equipment — Photo by Athena Lam

Needless to say, some of Japan’s best known coffee equipment companies were there as well. Hario is known for its V60 drip and syphon glass. If you would like to stock up on coffee equipment, I suggest going to Union Coffee in Kappabashi (Tokyo’s kitchen town), near Asakusa.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Coffee and IoT (Internet of Things) is a sleek kitchen solution — Photo by Athena Lam

The convention also showcased some of the latest gadgets in coffee making. Stationary robots would swing their arms to brew the perfectly standardised cup. Or, if you would like to customise your own in the comfort of your home, you could consider an IoT solution by using your iPad to control an automated coffee brewing counter machine with your own brewing formula.

SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2016

Coffee ceremony anyone? — Photo by Athena Lam

We also saw the cultural fusion of a tea-turned-coffee-brewing ceremony. You could wait your turn to be served on a traditional tatami mat.

As usual, tradition is usually contrasted with innovation. One of the latest trends in the US is nitro coffee, which is served from a tap like draft beer would be. I would say give Japan a few more years before they manage to catch up in flavour to the US.

UCC nitro coffee

Nitro coffee hits Japan — Photo by Athena Lam

UCC nitro coffee

If possible, try nitro in the US instead — Photo by Athena Lam

To top off our day, we circled back to Ninety Plus Coffee and chatted with the founder, Naoki-san from Arabica, and watched another barista champion, Jeremy Zhang, brew his beans.

ninety plus coffee geisha

Ninety Plus Coffee’s Master baristas pick their own beans — Photo by Athena Lam

ninety plus coffee geisha

Jeremy Zhang is one of Ninety Plus Coffee’s Taste Makers — Photo by Athena Lam

If you want to try some local Tokyo cafes here:

Tokyo

Tokyo Cafes: February Cafe

フェブラリーカフェ February Cafe Asakusa Tokyo

February Cafe’s storefront on a quiet street.

I entered this small cafe in Asakusa on a rainy Saturday afternoon and found it packed. Only the bar seats were left, and thankfully my friend had saved a spot for us. February Cafe is just across the street from the main shopping areas closer to Senso-ji, which means the small alleys are undisturbed by traffic. The entrance is a demure white, but inside the place is bursting with a corner-cafe-grocer character. The signs are right at the serving counter, which is against a wall crammed with small iconic things. I eats this.

フェブラリーカフェ February Cafe Asakusa Tokyo

Signs balancing on narrow ledges.

For a space so small – just 17 seats – it is uncharacteristically welcoming for remote work. A sign on the wall beside outlets invites patrons to use the plugs. There is no Wi-Fi.

フェブラリーカフェ February Cafe Latte Espresso Black Coffee

Pour over Nicaragua Single Origin & Latte

I’d come here to try the coffee, so my friend ordered a single-origin Nicaragua (¥500) and I ordered a latte (¥430) to check out their art. The latte art was well done, but the beans were a bit underwhelming. I personally would have preferred a smaller latte just to get a higher espresso ratio. The single origin roast was a bit watery and the berry flavours didn’t quite bloom, so it ended up a little acidic.

フェブラリーカフェ February Cafe Asakusa Tokyo

Wall bar that’s meant for remote work.

We didn’t try the food, but the menu items looked quite tasty! There were a group of foreigners who were having a great time catching up. I’d recommend this as a place to get some work done if you’re in the neighbourhood.

フェブラリーカフェ February Cafe Asakusa Tokyo

Back seating for catch ups

Cafe is Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso and pour-over filter coffee
  • Food: Breakfast, lunch and dessert menus
  • Cafe Space: 3 square tables, 1 booth table, 2 bar seating areas.
  • Friends: Hangouts & catching up
  • Remote work & Reading: 2-3 plugs on the wall table (narrow, so small laptops are better).
Address: 1-7-8 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo
〒111-0034 東京都台東区雷門 1−7−8
Map
Website: http://www016.upp.so-net.ne.jp/February-Cafe/
Hours: 8:00 – 19:00
営業日
定休日: 
不定休
8:00 ~ 19:00

If you liked this post, check out my map of cafes Off-Centre Tokyo Cafes.

Tokyo
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)
Gumtree Coffee Tokyo Cappuccino

Tokyo Cafes: Gumtree Coffee

Gumtree Coffee Tokyo Storefront

Gumtree Coffee in a corner of Hong Kong

At an nondescript gunmetal grey corner, professionals just outside the manic Tokyo city centre can get a great cup of coffee at Gumtree. This small, lost corner of central Tokyo bordering Ginza and Tsukiji remains relatively quiet, making it a great place to work.

Gumtree Coffee Tokyo

Seats overlooking the street on the 2/F

Of course, the busy can simply buy a take-out coffee. Those who want to work or catch up with friends can head up to the 2/F seating area.

Gumtree Coffee serves beans from Single Origin Roasters in Australia. They have daily single origin and blend beans for Aeropress. I tried the cappuccino, and the beans have a nutty flavour to go with the milk. They also have pastries (i.e. muffins) and sandwiches at economical prices (think ¥160-250 range). They can keep a workaholic digital nomad going all day without burning too big a hole in the wallet.

Gumtree Coffee Tokyo

Ground-level coffee far

The upstairs area is quite small, but comfortable enough for working. There are three plugs on one wall, and one of the bar tables runs along a window with a view of the street below. Jazz belts out from a ceiling speaker, adding ambience for those who like this sort of stuff.

Gumtree Coffee Tokyo Cappuccino

There’s no Wi-Fi. For me personally, its location in such a random corner of Tokyo, an easy 5-minute bike ride from Ginza and Tsukiji, is a winner.

Gumtree Coffee Tokyo

Cozy 2/F seating at Gumtree

Cafe is Good For:

  • Coffee: Espressos, Aeropress, Cold-brew
  • Space: 8 bar seats upstairs, and 2 lounge seats
  • Friends: Catching up
  • Remote Work: Narrow bar tables, and 3 outlets on one wall, no Wi-Fi
  • Reading: Yes. There are magazines available too.

Cafe Information:

Address: 2Chome-12-6 Tsukiji, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo
東京都中央区築地2-12-6
Website Facebook Page
Hours:
Closed: Sundays
Mon-Sat: 7:00-19:00
営業日
定休日:
日曜日
月〜土: 9:00 ~ 18:00

If you liked this post, check out my map of East Tokyo Cafes.

Tokyo
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)