Canada gets many things right: healthcare, good-looking Prime Ministers, incredible natural environments, and genuine friendliness everywhere. But I’m going to let you in on a lesser-known secret: there is some seriously amazing coffee in Vancouver.
Vancouver is the hottest hub for coffee culture right now, and a rising foodie town, to boot. From diverse cuisine to exotic chocolate-snorting experiences, this coastal metropolis is also one of the most beautiful places to live in, like, ever (ranked by The Economist as the third most “liveable” city in the world). So when you do visit (or move here after a certain event in November *ahem*), we compiled a list of top coffee spots in the downtown area to help you get settled in.
Where to begin? This place is just phenomenal. They curate a rotating selection of beans from artisan roasters all over the globe (check-out this amazing guide to learn more about coffee roasting and more). With skill and care, they brew each and every cup to perfection. Their “tasting flight” allows you to try several coffee varieties or brewing methods.
Personally, though, I must say the espresso macchiato is one of the best ever. The staff here are truly talented and more than happy to chat. If you’re craving sweets, the quirky treats will not disappoint. Always bustling with good people, good vibes, and groovy music, Revolver is the social space where you want to be.
The crowded booths here are filled with smart professionals on coffee breaks and cool Vansterdam kids you want to get to know. Just sit at the long communal table and casually drop in on a conversation. You won’t regret it.
The drip/pour-over here is excellent, and I would highly recommend their cortado too. From the visuals in their flawless latté art, to the aroma of their full-bodied brew, you can trust that they have a delicious brew in store. See this quick note on easy ways evaluate your espresso experience. They also offer seasonal drinks for the summer like sparkling juices, iced tea, and cold brew on tap. Don’t miss out on their yummy baked goods, which are savory and satisfying for sure.
Unlike the constant buzz at Revolver, Timbertrain’s more work-friendly ambiance with sleek wooden tables, natural light, and minimalist interior is a better bet if you’re looking for a place to get some work done, catch up with a friend, or simply read in peace.
For artisanal coffee that’s not over-the-top fancy, Milano is a neat coffee chain that does it all and does it well. Their award-winning espresso makes for a great cup of mocha that is worth every last drop. Beyond coffee, they have a wide variety of high-quality tea drinks, sweets treats, salad/sandwiches etc. Even their hours are accommodating, with the doors open until 9pm every day.
Of their three locations, the Gastown shop is the most spacious with all sorts of seating options: wall-chairs, cozy sofa chairs, lounge couches in the back, and long communal tables. The relaxed ambiance makes for an ideal meeting spot.
If specialty coffee isn’t your thing and you just want a simple cup o’ joe, this corner coffee shop has you covered. Located near the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station, this Bean Around The World is often bustling with locals and loyalists. There are many BATW’s around Vancouver, but this is my favorite. In addition to a great view and welcoming staff, this Victoria franchise supports local artists and efforts of non-profits in the community and abroad.
In this homey café, you find easy-to-understand coffee menus (without esoteric, two-line descriptions for each brew) and a large selection of baked goods that are well-portioned and well-priced. On sunny days, try their cold brew; it’s more affordable than Starbucks (and tastes better too).
This is what you’d expect of a good lookin’ café. With teal-colored glassware, a clean, modern design, and natural light coming in through the windows, Prado is the trendy spot for solid coffee and filling treats like waffles, brioche toasts, and more.
They are well known for their flat white, but the kombucha on tap is fun, too. This particular location faces an intersection at the heart of Gastown, which makes the photogenic corner café an ideal spot to get your lazy afternoon caffeine fix, and do some people-watching too.
Nelson the Seagull is a true neighborhood gem. Not only do they have some of the best brunch food around town, but their coffee is top notch, too. The flat white is done just the way it should be, and their vegan latte (house-made almond milk!) is not to be missed.
This family-friendly bakery/café is a little out of the way, but certainly worth the trek. The interior design is commendable, with vinyl records, quirky art objects, and vintage floor tiles—everything that constitutes quintessential “hipster.” In nice weather, they have outdoor seating where you can sip excellent coffee and watch the afternoon drip away.