Siphons to coffee flights: Vancouver immersed in artisanal coffee scene
Lynda Steele & Sandra Hermiston , CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, April 22, 2014 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 22, 2014 8:28PM PDT
Coffee is big business in Vancouver and while the convenience of picking up a cup of java at a Starbucks or a Tim Hortons is appealing, several artisanal coffee cafes have set up shop in the city, sacrificing speed for the complexity of a high-end brew.
Do you enjoy your coffee “bright”? Or prefer your java brewed with a chemex or a siphon? Then this burgeoning coffee culture is for you. Sammy Piccolo, four-time Canadian barista champion and co-owner of Prado café, says there are dozens of cafes that will introduce you to unique brewing methods and high-quality coffee.
"Vancouver, I believe, is the best coffee city in the world,” says Piccolo.
Each café brings a different coffee experience and many regulars say enjoying a well-brewed coffee can be compared to tasting fine wines.
At Platform 7 on East Hastings, you can enjoy hand crafted espressos. The café transports its patrons to a Victorian London train station with its décor and offers exotic brew methods, including a Japanese siphon.
"You can pick out notes, pick out taste profiles: fruit, citrus, chocolate," says owner Marke McNichol.
World barista judge Andrea Piccolo says to not worry if your coffee palate isn’t as sophisticated as the experts.
"Don't get too hung up if that's not what you're tasting initially. It's about just developing your palate and getting a taste for the pure coffee," said Piccolo.
Piccolo encourages people who are interested in learning more about coffee to take small steps their coffee education.
“Maybe just take a little less cream and sugar. Maybe you want to try a different brew method. Maybe you just want to find a little more about where your coffee comes from," says Piccolo.
Revolver in Gastown is another place to start developing your coffee palate. The café is the first in Canada to offer flights of coffee, similar to the way craft beer tasters are served. A flight includes either one coffee bean brewed three different ways, or three different beans brewed one way.
"It's like when you do any kind of tasting, you start to realize, ‘Oh, I like this kind of coffee and I don't like this one,’” says George Giannakos, owner of Revolver. “But when you don't have them side by side, it's really hard to get that context.”
A small number of retailers double as coffee roasters. Matchstick Coffee Roasters has a roaster that customers can check out at its location near Fraser and Kingsway. The café serves its own brand of coffee called Catalogue.
"Even when we think a coffee tastes outstanding we try to make it better anyways, because nothing we do is about being good enough, it's about being excellent," says co-owner Spencer Viehweger.
For people who have already started exploring Vancouver’s coffee culture, expert Mark Prince runs www.coffeegeek.com, which provides in-depth insight into all things coffee. Click here for Prince's consumer tips on finding a quality cup of java in Vancouver.