Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017

Author: Shirley & Mike Wong

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
The best Vancouver coffee shops of 2017 are highlighted in our last post of the year

Read on for our picks of the best Vancouver coffee shops of 2017 and our predictions of what’s to come.  With the coffee scene evolving, there is a café that will appeal to everybody’s personal taste.

As this year closes, we want to say thank you for your continuing support! That old saying that “it’s about the journey and not the destination” is everything this blog is about. So our new year’s wish is to keep supporting our independents on their journey because they’re definitely not taking the easy road.

Wishing you all a happy holiday and new year!

Shirley & Mike

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Quantum Coffee’s Poursteady is part of the Vancouver wave of automated pour overs

Biggest Trend:

For the first time, we’re seeing mechanical pour over – or what we call A.I.B. (Artificially Intelligent Barista). Newbies Quantum Coffee and Spade are some of the first. But when you see veteran Revolver eliminating manual pour over, this is a trend that’s only going to get a stronger foothold.

Biggest Pet Peeve:

Paper coffee cups. Although Vancouver is known for its environmentally conscious values, too many single use disposable items still end up in a garbage can, then the landfill. If you drink a lot of coffee, you can’t help but feel you’re partly responsible.

If a city-wide recycling program isn’t feasible, we’d support a complete ban on paper cups. Until then, we give thumbs up to businesses that setup incentives to be green; like discounts for customers to bring in their own reusable cup.

Best Coffee Shops of Vancouver in 2017
Co-owner Dusty Smith of Agro Roasters

Most Influential Roaster:

Agro Roasters (Strathcona)

In 2016’s Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver, we described this East Van business as the most underrated. Today? They are one of the most instrumental roasters in B.C. Unselfish with their time and expertise, if there’s a local coffee event, you can bet Agro is behind it. In a nutshell, they’re all about building the strength of Vancouver’s coffee community.

Best Roaster to Stock Up On Beans:

Republica Coffee Roasters (Downtown)

Coffee can be expensive but it’s affordable to make café-quality drinks at home. With Republica’s new downtown location (they’re originally from Fort Langley), finding well priced beans couldn’t be more convenient. Pick up a pound of coffee at Republica, most for only $15.

Besides price point, not many roasters can beat their fresh roast dates. Sometimes it’s just the day before, literally still breathing. They also ship free anywhere in the Lower Mainland.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Find big coffee deals at Republica

Best Roaster Hosted Event:

Moja Coffee Roasters’ 1-Day Open House Sale (twice a year)

Our favourite time of the year? A coffee insider’s true cheap thrill. June and December, when it’s Moja’s B.C.’s largest coffee sale (just off the Second Narrows Bridge). Though this event still flies relatively under the radar, every year it gets bigger; this year, customers lined up half an hour before opening.

Although the lineup is long, these guys are pros at running this event. Like Black Friday that comes twice a year, we’re happy this roaster gives back to its loyal customers with generous deals: 400 g bags for $10 and $25 gift cards for $20. Their sale was just last weekend and it’s the easiest holiday gifting for family and friends.

Best Roaster Educator:

Spent Grounds Coffee Roasters (South Surrey)

Karen Lopez is the passion behind this new concept. More than a café and micro roaster, they are also the home roasters’ source for buying small quantities of green beans. Don’t miss the tasting bar and cupping/roasting classes in the works.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Karen Lopez of the new Spent Grounds Coffee Roasters in South Surrey, has coffee expertise to share

Micro Roaster To Watch:


If you haven’t heard of them, check out your local café. Though they just launched in November, but their coffees are already sold at select coffee shops like The Birds & the Beets. The owner used to be a roaster for Elysian Coffee, so you know this one has enormous potential. And their roasts? Digging the cool names like Disco Marmalade.

Roaster of the Year:

Pallet Coffee Roasters (3 locations: East Village, Kingsway & Kits)

Expansion doesn’t necessarily mean better, but we think it does in this case. This East Village prodigy has all grown up. We love how their new cafés are all different styles, fitting perfectly into each community, but you still get a consistent experience wherever you have your coffee. And big kudos to their barista training which is a gold standard in the city.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Barista at Pallet Coffee Roasters in Kits

Best ‘Hood for Service:


Isn’t it a sorry moment when the person serving your coffee is grumpy and seems to hate their job? Not here, where we can depend on a cheerful attitude, surprising kindness and plain old friendly conversation.

Best ‘Hood to Hangout with Locals:

Mount Pleasant

Don’t know what people have against hipsters (and this ‘hood is where you’ll see the most). But to us, this stretch of East Van is the last place we’d call boring. People are eclectic, interesting and there’s always a story to tell.

Best ‘Hood With Coffee Potential:

North Road (Burnaby) / Koreatown

If you haven’t noticed the young Korean talent slaying the coffee scene, then you probably haven’t been to Koreatown. This is a generation that’s got big entrepreneurial ideas, very little fear and plenty of drive.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Veroni & Co owner William in Koreatown

Best Kept Secret:

The Narcissus (Port Town)

If we could keep this one quiet, we’d save it for ourselves. This recently opened café is a delicious find. Hidden on Powell St, we’re betting you’ll fall hard for them too. They serve Agro Roasters, and execute their espresso perfectly.

Best Innovator:

Spade (Commercial Drive)

Sammy Piccolo’s latest project is the sweetest one, fresh and creative. Spade masquerades as a café by day (with a small but artisan breakfast/lunch menu) and transforms to a bistro at night (with online reservations). He’s finally launched his own line of coffees; try them as affordable (and efficient) pour overs on the Seraphim.

Best Collaboration:

Genius Coffee N’ Espresso Equipment x Kunie Inaba

Learning how to pour a tulip and heart has never sounded so inspiring. This local Burnaby company hosts small latte art classes taught by award winning barista Kunie Inaba from East Village’s Platform 7.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
The Narcissus in Port Town

Best Service / Best Service By Owner

Nemesis Coffee (Gastown)

This is friendly and personalized service on a completely different level – from the person taking your order, to the barista, to the staffer delivering your food. They understand every moment makes a big impression.

Best Crowd Magnet / Crowd Management:

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts (Downtown)

Nobody steadily attracts and professionally manages a big crowd like 49th. They have experience running their other packed venues in Kits and Mount Pleasant, so yes expect a lineup downtown, too. But you also get high energy, friendly service, skilled baristas.

Best Café for Picky Coffee Drinkers:

Aperture Coffee (Riley Park)

This is where we want to send everyone who stuffs our inbox with silly complaining. There isn’t much these guys aren’t doing right: old school jazz, beautiful photography/art, generous seating and Timbertrain Coffee brewed to perfection.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Ryul Kwan is the owner of Aperture Coffee (shown at Riley Park)

Best Place to Get Work Done: (Tie)

Aperture Coffee (Riley Park)

Work comfortably for hours with zippy Wi-Fi, plenty of seating and a relaxing atmosphere.

Kings Cafe (Kingsway)

A priority of their last major renovation? Install plenty of plugs for laptops and other devices. They love students and the local business crowd.

Best Cheap Thrills (Coffee):

Handworks Coffee Studio (Burnaby)

Save the change in your pocket for a handcrafted pour over from this Japanese micro roaster. Just $2.75 for mild coffee or $2.95 for a bolder flavour. They handpick their own beans to make a smooth brew with very low acidity.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Owner Mas Fujinaga at Handworks Coffee Studio

Best Cheap Thrills (Food):

Kings Cafe (Kingsway)

Can you beat an all day breakfast for $6.50? That’s two eggs any style, 2 toasts and coffee. Add ham or turkey for $1.

Best Coffee at your Local Grocery:

Agro Roasters (Strathcona)

Sometimes it’s just easier buying coffee the same time you’re shopping for eggs, milk and butter. Agro’s mind-blowing beans can be found not only at their Strathcona roastery. They’re also at Donald’s Market in East Village (sells out fast) and Be Fresh Local Market .

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Co-owner Edmund at Moving Coffee

Best Specialty Coffee:

Moving Coffee (Mount Pleasant)

This specialty micro roaster has a home inside Fife Bakery, which is a space so tiny you might end up standing at a counter while sipping your coffee. But the sublime coffee is worth the visit and stands out from the rest.

Best Pour Over:

Moving Coffee (Mount Pleasant)

With a custom designed pour over stand and copper dripper-with-no-name (from Asia), you’ll have an artisan drink hand poured by one of the owners, Edmund. He’s funny, coffee-knowledgeable and appreciates first timers as much as regulars.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Coffees at the new Timbertrain Coffee Depot

Best Espresso:

Timbertrain Coffee Depot (Grandview)

Though they don’t have the space for pour over like their Gastown café, their espresso is impeccable and, specifically, memorable. Our favourite? The Depot Blend that’s only served at this location.

Best Latte: (Tie)

Nemesis Coffee (Gastown)

Timbertrain Coffee Depot (Grandview)

A great latte comes down to amazing espresso, perfectly steamed milk and a barista that’s equal to the task. Hard to pick, but you can understand the quality control when the owners are often your barista – at both of these locations. BTW Timbertrain holds basic latte art classes too.

Best Latte Art: (Tie)

Nemesis Coffee (Gastown)

Timbertrain Coffee Depot (Grandview)

Good latte art isn’t everything, but frankly it counts for a lot. Latte art that falls apart in your drink is usually because the barista hasn’t foamed the milk properly.  And when you’re paying a whopping $4 for a latte, flat milk is a massive disappointment.

On the other hand, well crafted art by a well trained barista simply takes a drink to new heights. It actually makes me happy. These two coffee shops consistently bang out beauties that make two toonies a good investment.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Creamy latte perfection at Timbertrain Coffee Depot


Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Unforgettable latte at Nemesis Coffee

Best Dog Friendly Café:

Coo Coo Coffee (Yaletown)

While you can’t bring your pooch inside, they welcome you and your furry friend to make yourselves at home on their expansive outdoor seating area.

Best Cyclist Friendly Café:

Musette Caffe (West End)

Have no fear of Vancouver’s wily bike thieves. They’re one of the only places that welcomes customers to bring their bikes inside and actually have built-in stands for them. Many people who frequent this place are actually cyclists and this is their regular coffee pit stop.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
The newly transformed Musette Caffe is a showstopper

Best Jaw Dropper:

La Forêt (Metrotown)

Although their service can be spotty, it’s one of the most talked about coffee shops in 2017. This enormous, gorgeous venue was actually an auto body shop in its former life.

Best Transformation / Design:

Musette Caffe (West End)

Another amazing, gigantic space that’s must-see. Hard to believe their old location was a narrow clubhouse-style space where you entered from an alley. This new venue houses the owner’s huge collection of cycling memorabilia, which feels like you’re in a bike museum. They also have unique features like a Pinarello bike rental program and a store with limited edition cycling gear.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
La Foret has a winning design and expansive space

Best Coffee Bag:


Their coffee bags are different and so beautiful, you can frame them for your walls. Each has a haunting effervescent beauty cast in muted sunset tones.

Best Beats:

Timbertrain Coffee Depot (Grandview)

Whether a coffee shop plays 90s hits or classical tunes, it sets the mood and subtly tells customers what you’re all about. On our visit, Timbertrain was playing something completely innovative and different from other cafés, which we loved. Mike called it “modern meditation”.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Duck and waffles at Nemesis Coffee

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
“The Kitchen Sink” with G.O. potatoes at The Gray Olive Cafeteria

Best Food Destination:

Nemesis Coffee (Gastown)

If you’re bringing guests to town to impress, this high brow café should be at the top of your list. With unique menu items that include duck and waffles, they make our wish come true: a place where coffee and food are the ultimate.

Best Breakfast:

The Gray Olive Cafeteria (Burnaby Heights)

When you’ve got hunger pangs for brunch, comfort food at The Gray Olive is the solution. While it’s a tight space, they have stellar qualities that make it worthwhile. Service is fast, prices are good and their signature potatoes are tops.

Best Pastry:

Timbertrain Coffee Depot (Grandview)

A tough one for sure. But if we could eat one thing, it would be Timbertrain’s mouth watering, buttery and flaky scones.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
The best scones are at Timbertrain Coffee Depot

Barista With Best Accent:

Franck Buiron, owner of L’Atelier Patisserie

Maybe baristas with a good accent have an unfair advantage. Buiron is plain charming and his spicy French lilt helped win us over.

Best Barista(s):

Nemesis Coffee (Gastown)

This team of young owners happen to be top notch baristas with a clear passion for coffee.

Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2017
Owner Franck Buiron at L’Atelier Patisserie

Related posts:

Industry experts: Mike and Shirley Wong recommend city’s top cups of joe (Georgia Straight)

Vancouver Barista’s Top 10 Cafes (BC Living Magazine)

Q & A: Vancouver Barista (The Burnaby NOW)

Review of Agro Roasters: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Aperture Coffee Bar (Riley Park): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Elysian Coffee (Downtown): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of 49th Parallel Coffee (Downtown): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Handworks Coffee Studio: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Kings Cafe: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of La Foret: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of L’Atelier Patisserie: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Moja Coffee Roasters (North Van): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Moving Coffee: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Musette Caffe: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Nemesis Coffee: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Pallet Coffee Roasters (East Village): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Pallet Coffee (Kingsway): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Pallet Coffee (Kitsilano): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Quantum Coffee: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Republica Coffee (Downtown): Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Revolver: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Spade: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Spent Grounds Coffee Roasters: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of The Birds & the Beets: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of The Gray Olive Cafeteria: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of The Narcissus: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Review of Timbertrain Coffee Depot: Our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee

Where Vancouver Barista Went In Search of Vancouver’s Best Coffee




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