49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

 

49th Parallel Latte

49th Parallel Latte

 

Ah, it is Friday, and since my plans to do a giant experiment today at work went down the drain due to …. [my laziness], I will write about…. coffee!

Today was a decent coffee day: I went to the Starbucks at work and was happy to find pretty much all my favorite baristas to be present. So, as per usual, I put down my mug without saying a word and I got my Americano made perfectly to my specifications – without my mug being all dripping with coffee on the outside and that little piece of white sticky note with my order scrawled on it still stuck to my mug, and room still remaining. (That, of course, would constitute a bad coffee day, and that happens when that one Least-Favorite Barista Boy – LFBB – is present. I swear he does it on purpose because he dislikes me for some reason.)

Anyway, yesterday though, was a good coffee day: I didn’t have my Starbucks.

I went instead to 49th Parallel Roasters – this is a coffee house not to be missed – their espresso is excellent, their lattes pretty, their couches chocolate brown, and their cups sky blue. This is, indeed, a chic little cafe sitting on Vancouver’s 4th Ave. 49th Parallel Roasters are founded by the same guys who created Caffe Artigiano,  so naturally, their coffee scores high points with me. It’s too bad I don’t live or work in that neighbourhood. I really like their Americano.

If you can’t get down to their cafe, their locally roasted coffee can be found at markets like Meinhardt, Whole Foods and Capers, as well as some other coffee places. I have a bag of their organic Ethiopia Yergacheffe Konga. 

 

49th Parallel Roasters

2152 W 4th Avenue, between Arbutus and Yew

604-420-4901

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Caffe Artigiano 06.28.08. Betty’s 86th.

I think there was a new guy at the Artigiano I go to at Kerrisdale. Well, whether or not he is new, he made a pretty nice heart the other day. Then again, everybody seemed to have gotten the same heart…


artigiano latte art

 

This day was special: it was one of E’s old neighbor Betty’s 86th birthday. We didn’t know this – we had drove by to see E’s old place in the neighborhood, and happened to see Betty’s niece in the garden and were invited in to say hello. E hasn’t seen Betty for over a decade and Betty’s starting to suffer from dementia but still remembers E fondly. After we found out it was her birthday that day (and after having said latte at Artigiano), we went down to Michelle’s Cake house on W. Boulevard and got her a tiramisu. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of it, it looked quite pretty. I would have chosen the fresh mango cake but Betty seemed more like a Tiramisu kind of gal. Anyway, Michelle’s Cake House is an Asian bakery, and makes fabulous cakes and pastries. There was a gigantic lineup when we were there; they take numbers.

We brought the cake back to Betty’s place just in time as her friend told us she was just about to call and order a cake for Betty. ^__^

 

Michelle’s Cake House

6033 West Boulevard, Vancouver

604-261-3284

Weekend’s Happy Latte

Saturday AM. Caffe Artigiano Kerrisdale. Happy grande latte.

Happy Latte

 

I bought a 1/2 pound of their Columbia El Castillo. I don’t have an espresso machine, or I’d have gotten their Private Reserve. I’ve also grown to like espresso more than drip brew, but at home this is much better than drinking instant stuff. And on weekends I guess I have time to brew a little coffee. This Columbia turned out to be excellent- mildly sweet, not at all bitter, low acidity. Just the way I like my coffee. (Actually, I like this better than the Americano that I typically have at Artigiano, which has a more sour aftertaste.) 

Columbia El Costillo

Coffee | Take 5 Cafe

Where I work, there is Starbucks, Second Cup, and Tim Hortons located within one building. You’d think that is a lot of choices but given that I don’t coffee from the latter two, there really isn’t anywhere else to go. At about a 5 minute walk, Starbucks is the second closest. Second Cup takes about 3 minutes and Tim Horton’s about 8. This morning, I walked out into the cold clammy Vancouver rain to Starbucks (my building is not directly connected to where the coffee is), to get my usual – a grande Americano, double, no room. (Their Americano I can take because it is not bitter or acidic. It is the only thing from Starbucks I drink, because I can’t stand their drip brew.)

Today I went at my usual time – when it is most quiet (although this particular location has never screwed up my orders even when busy). The usual gang I am used to seeing is there, but then suddenly the person preparing my drink is an unfamiliar face, whom I take to be a new barista girl. Hmm. She is quite nice, and asked me whether I wanted room. I had already said it, but that’s ok – no room please. In a few moments she hands me my Americano, sitting in the sleeve (because I am a wimp). I picked up the cup and immediate knew something was weird. I took a sip. It was cold! COLD! Not ice cold, but like coffee-that’s-been-sitting-for-a-day cold! WAH?! GAH! GACK! ACK!

Now, I am quite used to Starbucks’ branch-to-branch, day-to-day, barista-to-barista inconsistencies with my Americano’s. Sometimes, it is not very hot, other times it is. Some days, I suspect they give me an extra shot. Some days “no room” means only half a cup. Doesn’t really matter, since it’s not the greatest stuff anyway, and the deviation from the norm is usually not that much. It will have to do in this Bux-monopolized world.

But not COLD coffee. Not my first, vital morning cup of joe, not on a clammy day like this. That barista must have had skin so thick she couldn’t tell that the cup of coffee she was holding all that time was not at all hot! So I gave it back, she nicely apologized and gave me the “no idea what happened there” explanation, and quickly made me a normal one.

I never expect anything awesome from Starbucks, but I never had something this … scary, either.

Which brings me to a Bux-related story. The other day at Metrotown, I almost lined up for Starbucks. Thank goodness I didn’t and instead tried an Americano from the newest branch of Take 5 Cafe there. I wasn’t expecting too much – but it was really great. Not over roasted, not bitter, only very very slightly acidic, and had a good body. I even like it better than Caffe Artigiano’s, which I find slightly more acidic. Take 5’s Americano is the one to beat!

take5

Take 5 Cafe (various locations in Vancouver, soon opening on West 4th!)

La Cuisson 咖啡坊

la cuisson
La Cuisson

Something I have noticed in this city: Vancouver itself is a true, Pacific Northwest coffee-loving city, with absolutely no limits to how many Starbucks and/or specialty coffee shops can occupy a single block. In its suburb of Richmond, however, this trend is very obviously replaced  by bubble-tea houses. There is around the same number of Starbucks in the whole city of Richmond as there is within a half-mile radius in downtown Vancouver alone. It is, however, almost impossible to count the number of tea houses in Richmond.  

Unfortunately, for coffee lovers of this suburb, the best and most convenient roast would be from your own machine. At least, there aren’t many non-chain coffee places serving up a great cup of espresso in Richmond. A search led me to La Cuisson 咖啡坊, a real “coffee house” in Richmond. I have always passed by this place in the Union Squre Plaza, but have never gone in.

It’s a cozy little shop with about 7 tables. Many coffee confections – from machines, to giant bags of beans, to little exerpts about coffee sitting by the tables – surround you. There was one barista and one waitress working when we came, and several tables of people. The service is friendly and fast. They have beans from many different parts of the world. Hot drinks, cold drinks. There is tea on the menu for non-coffee drinkers, and aside from the pastries there is also a little snacks menu (I remember seeing toast and stuff).

I had the Americano, with a bit of crema, not a lot. I found it slightly lacking in aroma and body. Roast is very slightly bitter, acidity is low.

Americano
Americano

P chose the espresso with cookies. The cup and serving dish look pretty. Decent crema on the espresso.

Espresso and cookies
Espresso with cookies

NF’s latte, with little hearts. Unfortunately I had to use my cell phone to take these pictures so I apologize for the poor quality. I didn’t like the cup this came in…serving a latte with latte art in a run-of-the-mill coffee cup just doesn’t seem right. I tried a bit of this- it’s not bad, definitely better than chain stuff, but again I found it a bit lacking in aroma and body.

Latte
Latte

Supposedly all the treats in the store are home-made by the owner’s wife (I don’t think either were present when I visited). The cakes look pretty good. We ordered some biscotti. With almonds. Not bad. Taste like biscotti, which aren’t really my thing. They seem to like sprinkling powdered sugar on everything.

Biscotti
Biscotti

La Cuisson is not that much more expensive than your typical chain-coffee house, and I found it to be cheaper than many tea houses. They also sell machines and beans. All in all, a genuine coffee shop owned by a true coffee-lover. I’d come here again and try their other stuff.

 

La Cuisson 咖啡坊

1326-8368 Capstan Way, Richmond (In the Union Square Plaza)

Latte Art @ Cafe Artigiano

Heart

Back from a little hiatus… which involved a hospital visit and being dissected. This unfortunately means that my Christmas posts will not be filled with extreme feasting. *sigh* However, I am backlogged on posts, so we should be bursting with food nevertheless! For Christmas Eve, I have decided to dedicate a post to something lovely: Coffee.

I was a tea drinker… once. I used to dislike coffee. Somehow, some when, I converted. At first, I could drink the instant stuff. Then I went from getting a tall Americano from Starbucks once in a little while, to having a grande every day. Now, the drip brew from Tim Horton’s tastes like shit to me. I am by no means a coffee connoiseur, I don’t even brew my own… but I salivate when I see nice espresso machines. I only know that I don’t like drip brew, I don’t like bitter, I don’t like over-roasted, and I prefer espresso-based drinks.

Caffè Artigiano is considered to be one of the best coffee houses in Vancouver, and has won the Canadian Barista Championship for several years. I love their espresso for what it tastes like, not the leaves and hearts that decorate the milk foam on top. Not that I don’t consider it a skill, but latte art in general doesn’t impress me so much, because sometimes I think of fancy-shmancy as a cover up for a less satisfactory product. This is, of course, not the case at Artigiano. Though I must admit the latte experience is more exciting with the art than without.

Their Americano is good, better and with a nicer crema than your typical Starbucks fare:

Americano

Now, if you have had a latte at Starbucks, and actually like it, then that’s just… too bad. I can still drink Starbuck’s Americano, but there is no way I’d have the latte at Starbucks. I don’t know if there is latte better than Artigiano’s: their’s has got a great aroma, very roasty, and not at all bitter. Which is very important. It is far superior than most latte’s out there, even without the latte art. This particular leaf wasn’t the prettiest, but it really doesn’t matter:

leaf

Due so soon?! A tall just isn’t enough! 

due

Before I tried it I had an impression that this place might be a little overrated. I don’t think it is – Artigiano is really that good. But maybe just how great you think it is depends on your specific coffee preferences and snobbiness, and what you order. Artigiano is pretty much the same price as Starbucks, but to me it is far better. Unfortunately they just aren’t close to where I live, and I don’t have an espresso machine.

Caffe Artigiano

5 locations in Vancouver: Pender, Hornby, Hastings, Park Royal, Kerridale.