29th of April 2015

Best Coffee Shops in Downtown Vancouver

During the last few months I have developed a love for coffee shops. But not any: I’m in a constant search for a new quiet and cozy café where I can spend a rainy afternoon in Vancouver.

This hobby of mine – could be called “café scouting”? – consists of finding the right place where I can chat with a friend calmly, having a second office where I can work on this blog – free unlimited wifi is a must -, or staying in a different “living room” where I can read a book – and probably spend too much time on Instagram ;)


Let’s not forget, though, that the primary reason people go to coffee shops is to have coffee ;) And about this, I feel like I’m the only person in Vancouver ordering espressos. Just the other day the curious barista couldn’t resist asking me where I was from. “There we go!”, she said after I confirmed her theory: I could only be European or Latin American, any Canadian wouldn’t order an espresso, duh. It looks like even Mr Clooney couldn’t convince them that (N)espresso is awesome.

My love for espresso coffee comes from Italy – where else? -. That’s what I love the most about spending time in different countries: I keep accumulating small lifestyle changes that make me become who I am now, how cool is that?! So yes, during my time in Milan, my daily caffeine intake was so high I still wonder how I didn’t get tachycardia.


In Italy, also in Spain, if you order “a coffee” in a bar you get an espresso coffee: a tiny cup filled with 30 millilitres of a fragant, creamy liquid extracted at 90ºC from 7 grams of finely ground coffee, pressed at 15 bars. But this is not just a formula. It’s an art. However, in Canada, and many other parts of the world, “a coffee” is a big paper cup filled with half a litre of a dark watery beverage usually served with milk and sugar. These are the extremes, you know all the in-betweens ;)

While I admit that I order americanos every now and then, usually when I need to warm up – or when I need to feel a bit more adjusted to the Canadian culture -, most of the time I prefer paying almost three dollars – ouch – and having a nice espresso, because less is always more.

Going to the point, I have already tried quite a lot of different bars in Downtown Vancouver, the ones where I like hanging out the most are the following ones, and not just for their good coffee:

1. JJBean

This is a chain, but wait: a decent one. Actually the JJ Bean on Alberni and Bute Street is one of my favourite cafés right now. If only they had power points to plug my laptop… In my opinion the best spots are the ones upstairs, where you can enjoy your hot drink in one of their comfy seats – I love the minimalist design – while having a nice street view thanks to the glass walls.

2. Mink

Don’t you love it when your espresso comes with a square of dark chocolate and a glass of sparkling water? That’s what they do at Mink, apart from selling lots of gourmet chocolate bars, which make really good gifts by the way. And you can even enjoy all that at one of their outdoor tables (weather permitting).

3. Blenz

This is another pretty acceptable chain with a welcoming, bright and neat space, especially the Blenz on West Georgia and Thurlow Street (on the map above a different location is shown since the one I’m talking about was not available). This one is normally quiet; with the soft background music playing you can either relax on an armchair or work at one of the tables. When I’m there working on my laptop I feel like I’m a rich person in my – shared – Downtown office ;)

4. Greenhorn

Greenhorn is one of the coffee shops belonging to “The Third Wave”, one of these small, independently owned bars – usually with vintage decor and full of “cool” people – that work closely with artisanal coffee roasters and focus on serving high quality espresso drinks. The seating spaces are quite limited but the atmosphere is very hip.

5. Breka Bakery

Big space, wide range of European style baked goods, open 24/7, free wifi and literally 20 seconds away from my apartment. Breka really feels like a (loud) library at times, especially in the evening, when there are dozens of students doing their homework at the common table.

6. Musette Caffè

With a similar vibe than Greenhorn, it wouldn’t be the perfect place to work either, but Mussette certainly is the perfect place for bike lovers. If you are not, don’t worry, just admire all the biking related decoration while chatting with your friends. Apart from serving 49th Parallel Roasters – I adooore their pastel blue cups -, they have healthy cakes and snacks.

7. Trees Organic Coffee

Even if their tagline is “The Best Cheescake in Town” – which is still on my to-eat checklist -, they proudly serve organic and fair trade coffee and offer savoury foods during lunch time. Like in all of the bars above, avoiding the rush hours is always best if you want to enjoy your coffee in peace!

Over to you: Do you know any other cool coffee bars in Downtown Vancouver I should try?


[This article is featured on Nomadic Notes Travel Guides]

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