Where to Find Great Coffee in Vancouver

Photo: Ethical Bean

Vancouver’s coffee culture has a long and proud history, and has seen considerable evolution over the years.

Commercial Drive in the 1970s was the heart of the city’s Italian community, where the community would chat over espressos at cafes like Café Calabria (founded in 1976). Since then, Vancouver has become popular for coffee aficionados, particularly for those seeking locally-owned coffee shops that take pride in the quality and transparency of their sourcing and multi-stage process.

Here are 10 cafes for appreciating great coffee in Vancouver:


Photo: Milano

Owner and Master Roaster Brian Turko presides over Milano, which has multiple locations in Vancouver, as well as operates Turks on Commercial Drive. The coffee company, rooted in Italian tradition, has won numerous awards for their coffee, including 15 gold medals from the IIAC International Institute of Coffee Tasters. Milano’s story began in 1974 when founder and Master Roaster Francesco Curatolo launched Milano in Vancouver, introducing the city to his expertise in Italian roasting and blending. Turko mentored under Curatolo for 15 years, perfecting the craft as well.

Milano is known for their espressos, which blend up to 13 unique origin coffees. In addition, up to 70% of each of their blends consists of organically grown coffee beans. Visitors will particularly delight in trying up to 8 espressos at any one of their locations.

Ethical Bean Coffee

Photo: Ethical Bean

As their name indicates, Ethical Bean Coffee is not only focused on the quality of their coffee but also committed to fair trade and sustainability. Co-founders Kim Schachte and Lloyd Bernhardt first became passionate about coffee when they spent time in Guatemala, waiting to adopt their daughter. Since its launch in 2003, Ethical Bean Coffee has been offering 100% certified organic, fair-trade coffee, donating a portion of proceeds to Guatemalan non-profits and local charities. Director of Coffee, Aaron De Lazzer, is a Certified Q Grader, hand-selecting beans for each of their various roasts, which range from mellow to superdark. At their East Vancouver café, visitors can enjoy freshly brewed beverages in addition to purchasing their products (e.g., whole bean).


Photo: Kafka’s

Kafka’s has become synonymous with high calibre roasting and preparation. Proudly independent, this local company has gradually grown since it launched its initial location on Main Street nearly 15 years ago. They source directly from farmers with weekly roastings of their fair-traded beans to ensure freshness. Their three café locations—downtown, Gastown, and East Vancouver—are design-forward, with the highest quality beverages, pastries, and light meals. Kafka’s uses The Bloom by Espro for pour overs, and a modified Synesso for optimal-pressure (approximately 9 bars) espressos. Their Park location features stylish modern interior design, which serves as a gathering spot in the downtown core.


Photo: Pallet

Pallet began in 2014, and over the past decade, has built a reputation for the transparency, traceability, and artisanal calibre of their coffee. Beans are sourced directly from producers, focusing on the quality and seasonality of crops. Meanwhile, local roasting showcases the multifaceted natural flavours of the bean versus overriding it with other flavours. The labelling of their specialty products is very clear about the mills/farms where the coffee is sourced from, the harvesting and processing process, as well as the import partners that bring the coffee to Vancouver. For example, Pallet features coffee from Sumatra, Indonesia, from the Putra Gayo Mill, owned by Iwannitosa Putra. The coffee is naturally dry fermented and sun-dried, and imported by Café Imports. Pallet operates numerous cafes, Pallet Plus (which combines coffee and food), and Palate Kitchen (a combo restaurant and café)—at these, you can enjoy Americanos, cappuccinos, pour overs, and much more.


Photo: Nemesis

Look for an upside heart logo for some of the best coffee in the city. Nemesis is equally committed to full transparency, forging long-term partnerships with farmers and producers around the world. For instance, Everaldo Cassandro from Brazil is one of their coffee partners, who grows the Catucia variety and engages in meticulous harvesting and post-harvesting processing, including drying in suspended terraces. Nemesis cafes feature striking interior designs as well as top-notch beverage and food programs. Their coffee bars encompass drinks such as batch brews and lattes, and their pour over bars have a rotating selection. Whole beans are also available for purchase.

49th Parallel

Photo: 49th Parallel

49th Parallel takes a meticulous scientific approach to their coffee-making, using five different roasters in order to customize the roasting process to the flavour profiles of various beans and to allow for more technique flexibility. The company is committed to direct trade sourcing and minimizing environmental impact. They are transparent about the farmers they form long-lasting relationships with, and are committed to quality and sustainability. One of their partners, for example, is Luis Pedro Zelaya who runs farms in Antigua, Guatemala.

49th Parallel has numerous locations across the city, serving beverages such as flash brewed iced coffee, flat whites, macchiatos, and espressos. Bags of their coffee, such as their Old School and Epic Espressos, are available for purchase. Their locations also contain Lucky’s Doughnuts, so visitors have some of the finest doughnuts in the city to pair with their coffee.

Prado Café

Photo: Prado Cafe

The owner of Prado Café (multiple locations), Sammy Piccolo, is well known within Vancouver’s coffee community as one of the path-makers for the local industry. Piccolo is the winner of multiple accolades (e.g., Canadian Barista Champion) and was once a partner at Caffe Artigiano before he and his brothers eventually sold the business. His brothers went on to found 49th Parallel, and Sammy took over Prado Café on Commercial Drive in 2012. Over the last decade, he has retooled Prado to reflect his exacting passion for coffee and expanded it to include locations across Metro Vancouver. The drink menu includes classics like espressos and cortados, in addition to seasonal offerings such as an orange mocha macchiato. Prado also sells whole bean products, such as their Colombia Cauca – Single Origin Espresso.


Photo: Revolver

Revolver has a devoted following in the city for their unswerving devotion to all things coffee. Their charming Gastown location takes coffee very seriously, with espresso tasting flights and espresso brew flights on their menu, as well as other classics such as macchiatos and espressos. Revolver is not a roaster but has a curated offering of the finest local and international coffee, such as The Barn’s (Germany) Honduras La Arada and Luna’s (Vancouver) Ethiopia Wolde Hirbe.


Photo: Matchstick

Matchstick takes a very thoughtful and community-minded approach to their coffees and cafes. Their philosophy is simple: a focus on high quality ethical sourcing, and light roasting to highlight natural flavours. Matchstick opened their first coffee shop/roastery in 2012 on Fraser Street, and since that time, has expanded to multiple café locations. Interiors are bright, airy, and inviting—with a friendly neighbourhood feel. The cafes feature an espresso bar, batch brew options, as well as pour over selections. Visitors can also purchase whole bean options, such as Sweater Weather Espresso, Bulldog, and Diamante.

Murchie’s Fine Tea and Coffee

Photo: Murchie’s

Murchie’s was established in 1894, and is one of the nation’s oldest brands. The company connects a visitor with tradition and history—founder John Murchie delivered tea to Queen Victoria when he was an employee at Melrose’s in Scotland. In addition to their teas, Murchie’s sources 100% Arabica coffee from the best international coffee regions. Coffees for purchase include a Government Street Blend, Winter Roast, and Panama Bold Coffee. Café/store locations also include giftware and tea/coffee accessories.

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