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Author: Shirley & Mike Wong
“Impossible to ignore.”
-The Cranberries (from “Dreams”)
Port Moody’s Gabi & Jules – a sister company of Caffe Divano – opened at the end of July as more than a little coffee-and-pie shop. Owners Lisa and Patrick Beecroft named their business after their daughters. Their oldest, Jules, was diagnosed with autism.
To support those families dealing with the challenges of autism, Gabi & Jules donates a dollar from the sale of each whole pie towards the Autism Support Network of B.C. They also host events throughout the year where all proceeds go towards the network.
On Stop 83 of our weekly Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee, we’ve come to try their popular all-scratch pies. Gabi & Jules have made a name for themselves from selling out their creations at various farmer’s markets. You can also find their pies at Caffe Divano.
The personal intention behind this company reaches home, as we know friends with kids that have this condition. Being a parent isn’t easy; but having a kid who needs extra help, it’s definitely life-changing and demanding on a family.
This Saturday morning, we find some street parking down the block. (Note, Gabi & Jules also has their own free parking lot in front.) Walking towards their building, we’re charmed by this little neighbourhood.
Mike sometimes rides his bike along Clarke St. It’s a road popular with commuters as an alternative to busy St. John’s St., patterned with residential homes and a sweet stretch of stores. Many businesses occupy unique little houses. Even next door to Gabi & Jules, there’s a house with a vegetable garden blooming in the front yard.
You won’t find many cafes this gosh-darn-it’s-cute. And what a surprise it is, with its two distinct entryways: an oversized hot pink door (very much like on a real house), or the window-paned garage door, rolled all the way up on this summer day.
Pretty is the key word here. We enter through the garage door and see a dramatic feature wall configured from various white doors, turned left and right, complete with knobs and mail slots.
There’s a few customers here already, having pie and coffee, at wood-block, two-seater tables.
Hipster-styling is typical in Vancouver’s newest cafes, but this is a refreshing change. Blush coloured walls, leafy vines of roses painted behind the counter, an unabashed bubble-gum shade on the La Marzocco machine (complete with white racing stripe). As Mike observes, I can tell you love it.
Still, it’s not overwhelming in its romanticism. Mike remarks, it’s not too much for him. Other men may agree: while plenty of female customers visit, we see men drop by too. Some come by to pickup a pie and leave, others stay to have coffee with women.
Our biggest take? This location is not at all like Caffe Divano’s coffee shops – which have a slightly commercial feel – and we like the clear difference between the two brands.
As we wait in line, we check out a shelving system to the right of their counter. It has a range of handmade products developed by Gabi & Jules: jarred granola, salted caramel popcorn, fudge brownie mix, jam and even branded tee shirts.
The staffer greets us, friendly. There’s a wall beverage menu written on a rustic windowpane, listing organic teas and coffee. They serve drip and espresso coffee by Vancouver’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters.
Mike opts for The Gabi ($4.80 large) which is a latte made with treacle toffee. I order a Spanish Latte ($4.40 small) which is a drink made with sweetened condensed milk. We’re told both will be made with 49th’s Old School Espresso (caramel, nuts, dark chocolate). The prices are a bit steep, which is surprising for a cafe outside Vancouver.
Note that 49th also made a special Divano House Blend for this company (full body, cocoa, caramel).
While there are many sweet choices here – scones, crostada, cookies (the Lemon Drop is famous) – we order pie, as that is their specialty.
To order pie, simply ask what pies they’re serving that day. Today, there are three options.
We decide on the feature pie, Honey Roasted Peach Cobbler. Customers with allergies will appreciate they post a complete ingredient list at the counter. For example, the peach pie is all-natural – made with flour, butter, salt, sugar, peaches, honey, brown sugar, ginger, sour cream and cinnamon.
We also try a slice of their signature pie, Strawberry Ginger Peach. If you like pie à la mode, they keep it local by serving Port Moody’s Rocky Point Ice Cream here.
(Note: We forgot a receipt but calculate each slice cost around $4.50 – a price that’s pretty reasonable.)
She tells us our food and drinks will be brought to our table. We take a seat at the back. From here, we can see there is a big kitchen at the rear of this cafe, with several staffers making pastries.
Our pies are brought out first and we’re wowed by the unique presentation. They serve your slice in heated tin pie plates. Get to the bottom of your plate and read the imprinted message: Handmade pies & baked goodness – made with love – Gabi & Jules.
We really enjoy our pies. We love pies in general, so it’s nice to sink our forks into a crust that is notable: buttery and rich, flaky and tender. The fruit tastes sweet, ripe and a deep rich hue.
Our favourite is the Roasted Peach Cobbler, which is mouth watering from juicy, chunky slices of peach. Their pie menu regularly changes (ie. for seasonal ingredients) and we would come back to try some others.
A few minutes later, our drinks are brought to our table and the staffer apologies for the delay.
It’s cute that drinks are accompanied by have a tiny star-shaped cookie. Both of our lattes have very good flavour. Mike thinks the toffee goes well with his coffee. I’ve had Spanish latte with 49th Parallel before, and find condensed milk is an excellent match.
The only thing missing is a thicker consistency in their milk. It comes off as too thin – visually, it looks like milk mixed into tea – so it doesn’t translate as a true latte. If they could master this, it would also help improve their latte art, which can’t hold up inthe drink.
The high price of their lattes doesn’t feel justified, although Mike comments, “It still tastes better than Starbucks”.
When you come here, look at all the doors in this place and think of them in the context of autism. We don’t have all the answers, yet.
But maybe, those doors mean something bigger, like something unlocking.
VANCOUVER BARISTA REVIEW
Name of coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters’ Old School Espresso
Origin: Honduras & Guatemala
Location of roaster: Vancouver, B.C.
Price: $4.80 (large)
Brewing method: The Gabi (espresso with treacle toffee)
Roaster’s tasting notes: “Cocoa, molasses, round.”
Mike’s comments: I really enjoyed the toffee flavour which was not not too sweet. It did not overwhelm the coffee and it was well balanced. The milk could have been frothed better to make it thicker.
- Friendly and attentive service which included food/drinks being brought to the table.
- Thoughtful presentation with pies served in heated tin plates. Recommend you try their pies: they’re notable and the price is reasonable.
- One of the cutest cafes around, which really charmed and surprised us.
- Would love to see an improvement in the execution of milk frothing in order to get a true latte experience.
Seating availability: 4/5
OVERALL RATING by VANCOUVER BARISTA: 4.31/5
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2302B Clarke St, Port Moody
Operating hours here.