I used to think a good cup of coffee is an Americano from Starbucks (no offense to those who enjoy it). But ever since we bought a Chemex at home, I’ve been obsessed with trying out coffee beans from different roasters all around the world. It’s often a great souvenir to bring home on our travels! Recently I realized there are a lot of amazing Vancouver coffee roasters so I wanted to pay some attention to the talent at home. Today I’ll be sharing my top picks for where to buy coffee beans in Vancouver and also a giveaway kindly provided by 4 coffee roasters!
Elysian Coffee Roasters
You can’t miss Elysian‘s beautiful water color packaging. This coffee roaster was founded in 2000 and now has 4 coffee shops around Vancouver where you can purchase their beans or enjoy a cup of coffee. The locations are concentrated in the Mount Pleasant/Kits area with one location downtown. The decor of each location is a bit different but expect contrasts of white and wood for a modern feel.
For your first time experience at Elysian, I would suggest the La Soledad. This region has a special bond with Elysian’s founder, Alistair. He has gone down to Soledad a number of times and the coffee producer in Guatemala has also visited Vancouver several times. This is their most popular coffee bean and I can see how this easily appeals to a wide audience. It’s easy drinking both black or with a dash of milk. I like the nutty and chocolaty flavor especially paired with pastry! They definitely have more juicy blends as well if that’s more your taste.
The cafes offer a full range of coffee, tea, and pastry. The baristas are super talented and can all create beautiful latte art. Each day, Elysian chooses one coffee bean to serve that day. It’s a really great idea to push consumers to try something new. The coffee beans are 340g and start at $18 per bag.
Next up is Matchstick who might not need an introduction because they’re very well known in Vancouver. I gained a lot of insight from Spencer, the owner of Matchstick on how the company sources their coffee. The primary criteria is the cup score or flavour of the coffee. However, they also focus heavily on the relationships with the producer. On each of the coffee labels, you’ll find not only the country of origin but the town, the producer and the import partner. It’s important for Matchsticks to be as transparent as possible.
A really interesting part about Matchstick’s offerings is the Catalogue ($17.75) and Bulldog ($16.75). These two offerings provide a consistent taste over time and each time that the beans change, a new number will be used to indicate the change. The owner of Matchstick, Spencer, would recommend the Catalogue or Bulldog if you don’t normally drink coffee from speciality roasters. The Bulldog is a bit spicier with more dark roast. Whereas the Catalogue is very sweet and clean. Both are still single origin coffee and you can find the information of the source on the label.
If you are already familiar with single origin coffee though, his recommendations would be the Pena (from Guatemala and $21) and Rukira (from Kenya and $25). The official tasting notes of Pena is Baked Apple, Honey, Custard. How delicious does that sound?! If you’re into juicy, fruity coffee, definitely try the Rukira. My finacee loves acidic berry flavored coffee and our house is always stocked with coffee from Kenya. You can purchase the beans online or in their cafes.
You can find Matchstick at Fraser/16th, Chinatown, Riley Park and most recently, Yaletown. I love the Riley Park location because it’s so spacious and has lots of “Instagrammable” spots in the cafe. They also have a pretty delicious food menu including fully cooked breakfast items. There’s also a great promotion on right now that gives you a free cup of coffee if you buy a bag of coffee!
I first discovered Moja Coffee at work. The coffee dispensers from a finished board meeting was left in our kitchen and I poured a cup for myself. It was the best tasting coffee I’ve ever had at a work place and I set out to find out what it is! The founders, Doug Finley and Andrew Wentze started the first Moja Coffee location in 2004 in North Vancouver. Now, they have two cafes: one on Commercial Drive and one on Rupert Street in North Vancouver. The Commercial Drive location is the definition of industrial chic with exposed brick and concrete floors contrasted with a chic white counter top and open kitchen.
I would describe Moja Coffee as a great choice for those who prefer more traditional tasting coffee. A lot of the “hipster” cafes tend to go for juicy, fruity tasting notes. But I found the two coffees I tried from Moja Coffee are more traditional with notes of nuts, caramel, and chocolate. They prefer to source single origin coffee beans and you can choose from: Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Sumatra.
For the coffee geeks, Moja Coffee also has limited edition Lab Series coffees. These are more premium and offer more unique tasting profiles. You can purchase the coffee beans from Moja Coffee’s online shop, in their cafes, and at Whole Foods.
Last but not least is 49th Parallel. This is the coffee shop I probably go to the most! It is one block away from home and one block away from work. I actually featured them last year in my Best Places to Buy Loose Leaf Tea post. They are a pretty large company by speciality coffee standards. However, the taste is anything but mainstream and they provide great transparency in their operations. A great intro coffee from them is the Epic Espresso which is easily liked by everyone. They also have many single origin coffees (in the blue package) for those looking for more of an adventure.
As I mentioned earlier, we love Kenya coffee at home. The Kenya Karumandi has official tasting notes of syrupy, blueberry, and wine. It is not a very acidic cup but I liked the fruity flavors a lot. I got the chance to chat with 49th Parallel’s green buyer and he was just in Karumandi last week visiting the operations! He is impressed by the structure and organization of the place. The farmers who deliver their cherries to this washing station are given a good price for coffee. The organization also focuses on quality to select only ripe cherries before depulping.
I also absolutely love going to 49th Parallel for the doughnuts. It pairs so perfectly with their coffee. You can treat yourself to a $5 donut and coffee combo. Each day, they pour a different blend for their drip coffee. It’s always bursting with flavor and is my favorite drip coffee in Vancouver!
Vancouver Coffee Roasters – More Options
I spent a lot of time researching Vancouver coffee roasters so here are a few more options for you to explore.
East Van Roasters – Where to Buy 310 Carrall Street, Vancouver (Gastown)
Luna – Where to Buy No retail location but I’ve seen it at Nemsis Coffee
JJ Bean – Where to Buy 19 locations around Vancouver
Milano Coffee – Where to Buy 4 locations around Vancouver (West 8th, Gastown, Commercial, Denman)
Modus Coffee – Where to Buy
Moving Coffee – Where to Buy No retail location but currently served at — in Gastown
Pallet – Where to Buy 4 locations around Vancouver (Hastings, Kits, Kingsway, Oak)
Republica – Where to Buy Gastown, Cloverdale
Timbertrain – Where to Buy 311 West Cordova Street, Vancouver (Gastown), second location at Grandview
One lucky winner will win: Elysian Guatemala La Soledad, Moja Coffee Nicaragua, $10 Matchstick Gift Card + Enamel Pin, and 49th Parallel Guatemala San Jacinto. Canadian/USA residents only!