Coffee Travel: Shooting it up in Vancouver, Canada with ZACoffeeArmy

Tuesday, 5 July, 2016
Words and pictures by Bruce Collins of the zacoffeearmy

You can follow their adventures

It seems appropriate to be writing this in Archive, Revolver Coffee’s funky overflow space. I’m washing down my ample slice of blueberry coffee cake with a sublime Matchstick Guatemala Cortado.

Since the establishment of the ZA Coffee Army in Melbourne in 2012, we’ve sampled many cups of greatness around the world: Nashville, Washington DC, Melbourne, Perth, Richmond, London, New York and, of course, our own beautiful country. For the last week or so, however, we’ve been in Vancouver.

Force us to pick two spots here that are worth repeated visits and we’re left with no doubt.

1. Revolver Coffee ( - 325 Cambie St, Gastown, Vancouver. Monday to Friday; 7:00am–6:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 8:00am–6:00pm

Revolver is an amazing space. It’s packed from 07:30 in the morning until 18:00 when the blinds are drawn. Their space is conducive to lingering. Free wifi and a work friendly overflow space called ‘Archive by Revolver’ make this top spot a great place to catch up on life and catch up with friends.

Their offerings are broad. They serve cold brew coffee, Chemex and Espresso based drinks. All 3 offerings are superbly brewed by their knowledgeable and extremely friendly Barista team. They brew their Chemex with the Able gold kone coffee filter, so expect some fines in your cup. They will use a paper filter by request, though. Regardless, the Aramo Ethopian we had (courtesy of Ritual Coffee Roasters) was absolutely superb. Similarly, the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle works overtime and their milk based espresso drinks are consistently great. Coffee, however, is as much about people as it is about coffee. And, the people at Revolver are amazing. If you find yourself in Vancouver, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better cafe.

Revolver don’t roast. They do, however, stock an eclectic collection of amazing coffees from Ritual, Bows and Arrows, Phil & Sebastian, Matchstick and Heart Coffee Roasters.

Average cost: Approx. $4.50 per drink

2. Timbertrain Coffee Roasters ( - 311 West Cordova Street, Gastown, Vancouver. Monday to Friday; 7:30am–6:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 9:00am–6:00pm

Much like Revolver, the barista team is incredibly friendly and they have the skills to boot. Unlike Revolver, however, Timbertrain roast their own coffee. Smaller than Revolver, the shop can seem packed at times but seems to clear quickly. They also serve baked goods and pair these with Chemex pour overs (also brewed with Able’s gold Kone), Espresso based drinks, iced coffee’s and nitro brew on tap (this runs out quickly, though.

Serving mostly South American coffees from Brazil, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico and Columbia, they do dive into Africa with their Ethiopia Sidamo and Yirga Cheffe offerings.

Average cost: Approx. $4.75 per drink

Both spots are very cool but in our time here, we realised again that the heroes leading the charge in South Africa are well ahead of the charge. Our top coffee shops and roasters could rival any in beautiful Vancouver. Nevertheless, you can visit here with the peace of mind that you won't need to settle for average, chain-store-coffee. Vancouver has it all.

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