As I mentioned in my last post on Hey Happy, we visited Victoria and Vancouver, BC earlier this month. As promised, here is an overview of some of the shops we visited and other local recommendations.
560 Johnson Street
683 Garbally Road
We really enjoyed the coffee at Bows and Arrows, and had possibly the most personal and friendly service of the trip there. The shop is located in their roastery, which is neat, and also noisy. For us, the noise was kind of relaxing, as the kids could be as loud as they wanted to be and it wasn’t a disturbance. Nevertheless, potential for noise is something to be aware of, should you be in search of a coffee shop for the purpose of catching up with a friend; it might not be the best option. BUT everything was done really well, it was fun to see their roastery in action, and the shop had a casual, unpretentious vibe, which I appreciated.
311 West Cordova Street
Timbertrain was our first Vancouver coffee stop. The interior layout is very unique and has a lot of seating, despite the smaller size of the shop, and huge windows at the front of the shop let in lots of natural light. Their pour over set up is aesthetically appealing, with several different coffees to choose from, and the coffee was great. Their espresso when we went in was a choice of two different blends. For single-origin lovers, it was a little disappointing, but they did do an excellent job on both of the blends with flavor combos you couldn’t get from a SO.
325 Cambie Street
Revolver was our second coffee stop in Vancouver. It also may have been our favorite Vancouver coffee stop. They are a multiroaster shop, offering two different espressos and a variety of pour over options. We opted for the flight, which included a single shot of two different espressos, and a single shot macchiato of each espresso. I loved the layout of the flight; I enjoy trying everything, and that’s exactly what it felt like. The shop is in a busy part of town, and seemed to be pretty popular because it was packed. We found a spot to squeeze our family of five, but it definitely doesn’t top the list of places to hang out with a family. It would be excellent for one or two people to hang out. We still loved it, the espresso was great, and the baristas were friendly and more than willing to answer questions that I had about the roasters and origins represented in the drinks we got.
302 W Hastings Street
Our next coffee stop in Vancouver was nemesis. They roast their own coffee and also offer what I’ve heard is a killer brunch menu. Truth be told, we should have nixed our restaurant brunch plans and come to nemesis instead; the food looked amazing. As it was, we stopped by shortly before closing and ordered a Rwandan espresso and an herbal tea. The timing of our visit was not ideal: it was pretty empty in the shop, which made the loud music seem out of place, and the kids were a little restless, which made sitting and enjoying our drinks challenging. The espresso seemed like it had great potential and the tea was good. I really want to come back and try it earlier in the day, as I think that would give me a more accurate picture of the shop. In fact, even not having come for brunch, I would almost recommend skipping your brunch plans and going to nemesis instead because the menu and reviews were just that good. And how awesome is it to actually be able to order great coffee when you’re out for brunch?
2902 Main Street
Our final stop, 49th Parallel, is widely known and often offered at multi-roaster shops in Portland, so we felt like we should check out the real thing while we were in town. All 49th Parallel locations also make doughnuts. We stopped by their Mount Pleasant location on our way out of town to grab doughnuts and coffee. We got a macchiato, espresso, and drip. The drinks did not disappoint. Even with the shop being incredibly busy, the drinks were just right, really well-pulled shots and nicely steamed milk. Definitely high on the list of best shops I’ve been to as far as coffee quality goes. The doughnuts were also super good, although a word to the wise – they are big and very sweet and the two- and four-year olds do not need their own, especially if you are heading on a several-hour road trip when you leave. Some doughnut holes to split as a family might be a good option. The shop was a very cool space, although as I mentioned, very busy. It was a challenge to find somewhere to sit, even despite the large shop. Nevertheless, I would definitely go there again, and maybe check out that neighborhood of Vancouver next time. It reminded me of some of my favorite areas of Portland.
In case you are planning a trip to the Vancouver area of British Columbia, here are a few non-coffee activities that we really enjoyed.
The weather was gorgeous while we were in Victoria, so most of our activities took place outside. Walking around near the harbor and around the Parliament buildings is fun and free, just be aware that public restrooms close early in the off season, so if you have young children, maybe use the restroom before leaving the restaurant. Beacon Hill Park was lovely. It didn’t seem exciting just driving around it, but walking around in the gardens, watching the ducks and geese swimming and diving in the ponds, and finding little trails to explore was fun for everyone. They also have a playground which the children also enjoyed. Public transportation in the form of buses are plentiful in Victoria, including double-decker buses. If you have some time, get some Canadian cash ($5 per person over 6 years old) and ride one of the double-decker buses for a while. Our kids LOVED it.
We spent a day in Whistler riding the gondolas and playing in the snow. Tons of fun for everyone, also super expensive, although children 6 and under are free. I recommend eating in Whistler Village before heading up the mountain/after getting back. The food at the lodges on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains was really expensive and not amazing enough to justify the price (in my opinion). PureBread had some delicious baked goods.
Vancouver was more challenging for us; it was raining the couple days we were there and all of our plans for what to do were outdoor activities. We did check out a record shop, and went to Stanley Park despite the rain. It was fun to drive around the park in the rain, and we did get out a couple times to see the harbor. If you happen to be there when it is sunny, it would be absolutely delightful. I would love to hear any indoor activities that you’ve loved in Vancouver!