Whether it’s an essential part of your morning routine, a hump-day treat, or you simply need a break from your desk, we all love a coffee shop. Vancouver has an abundance of choice in this area–the city is home to a variety of big names, but there’s an awesome selection of small, independent spots too.
So, what makes a good coffee shop? Of course, quality brews are a given, but beautiful interiors, homemade snacks, and friendly staff all make up part of the appeal. This is a guide to the local spots you may not know about, but should.
Fairly new on the Vancouver scene, Prototype has quickly established a reputation for quality. Its Strathcona café is a thoughtfully curated space, with the coffee roasted right behind the counter. You might need a minute to choose from their huge, wine list-style tasting menu, but pour-over flights are available if you get stuck and want to sample a few.
The maple cream latte is a cosy option for those with a sweet tooth, and there’s a unique selection of bottled cold brews available to grab and go, including an oat milk mocha and a tea lemonade.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9am to 4pm
Address: 883 E Hastings St, V6A 1R8
En Route opened this year and has already become a huge hit with Kitsilano locals. It’s a unique offering that’s part café, part bike shop, and it’s not uncommon to see lycra-clad cyclists enjoying a coffee break in its minimal, fresh interior. A huge meeting-style table makes En Route the perfect spot to sit and work, although seating time is currently limited to 30 minutes.
Using a quality selection of rotating beans from Calgary-based roasters Phil and Sebastian, the menu features all the usual staples, including exceptional drip coffee. Food-wise, the vegan breakfast wrap with tofu scramble is a winner.
Hours: Monday – Friday 7am to 4pm, Saturday – Sunday 8am to 5pm
Address: 2205 W 1st Ave, V6K 1E9
Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Le Marché St George is a well-loved neighbourhood staple. Set in a beautiful heritage building, it’s a cozy little café where families can come and spend quality time – although the pandemic means that seating is currently outside-only, so be sure to wrap up warm.
Featured drinks include a Paris fog and a matcha latte, but the French-inspired food menu is worth visiting for alone. The café offers a choice of quiches with specials that change every few weeks – expect flavours such as broccoli and gorgonzola – or, if you prefer something sweet, there’s a selection of crepes, including cinnamon sugar and chocolate peanut butter.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8am to 5pm
Address: 4393 St George St, V5V 4A3
The sister location to, and fuel behind, the Gastown café, Timbertrain Depot has a strong community focus and is a hub for local coffee lovers. Set in an industrial warehouse space in Grandview-Woodlands, the Depot is where the magic – aka the roasting and innovating – happens, and the owners want to let you be part of the process, inviting you into their lab.
The food options, including double-baked almond croissants and breakfast sandwiches, are great, too – all made inhouse and with local produce.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8am to 4pm, Saturday – Sunday 9am to 4pm
Address: 551 McLean Dr, V5L 0C2
Taken over by local artist Shannon in 2014 to stop her favourite neighbourhood bakery from closing, Liberty is a family-friendly, homey space that reflects the owner’s love of all things British. The attention to detail is what makes this place special, with old portraits lining the walls and ercol chairs sourced and shipped from England.
The menu is equally as distinctive, featuring a selection of delicious homemade goods such as jalapeño croissants and Totoro cookies, and coffees roasted by Vancouver-based Elysian. Bear in mind that seating is limited to allow for physical distancing.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am to 4pm
Address: 3699 Main St, V5V 3N6
With an ambition to make specialty coffee more approachable without sacrificing on quality, Modus is the place to go if you want sweet and complex flavours in your brew. Located in Mount Pleasant, the coffee menu focuses on showcasing single producers, with profiles that are seasonal but consistent.
My advice would be to sit in and savour a pour-over or try one of their exciting weekend brunches. Their weekday snack menu has been paused due to the pandemic, but keep an eye out for its relaunch in the near future.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Sunday 9am to 3pm
Address: 112 W Broadway, V5Y 1P1
With an airy, bright interior, Storm City Coffee offers a great space to work if you need a change of scenery – although with physical distancing in place, seating is more limited than usual.
Serving up locally roasted coffees, its current featured drinks include a steamed cold brew and a pumpkin maple latte, which uses their in-house syrup made from real pumpkin. If you get hungry, there’s a great choice of brunches, as well as a rotating selection of cream puffs.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 8am to 2pm, Sunday 9am to 3pm
Address: 3403 W Broadway, V6R 2B4