Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Review #5 - Cito Espresso

Cito Espresso
116 Davie
6am-9pm, Mon-Sun

Architecturally, very dry, very Yaletown. Doesn't seem super inviting. It's very clean and pretty but the very antithesis of warm. No comfy chairs, no where to get comfortable with a book. They are across the street from 2 established cafe; Urban Fare and Starbucks so maybe they were going for something different. Extra points for selling giftware and quality home espresso units. Loses points for playing Norah Jones..... so typical!!

Wi-fi and Plugins
The trifecta; Yes, Strong and Open. Only 1 plugin in the front left corner booth.

Espresso Drinks and Coffee
I had an Americano again. This was my 4th time there and I've had an Americano every time. This was the 4th best Americano I've had there. About a C-, poor crema. Maybe it was because it was decaf (I need to do my reviews in the morning). Blended drinks and loose leaf teas on the menu. Bonus points for making their drip coffee in a french press and having their beans roasted by Cafe Vivace in Seattle, the inventors of latte art.

Had a piece of Lemon Flaxseed Cake (interesting flavor combo). Good selection of baked goods. Their Fench pastries looked really good and their loves were cut in generous slices. They also served bagels and a couple of sanwich options.

Didn't get any. Got my drink. Not too friendly. Looked busy even though there was only one other person in the store.

Bottom Line
This is the best cafe in lower Davie. What it loses in warmth it makes up for in quality of product. It's a great place to stop in for a coffee but not a great place to linger.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Review #4 - JJ Bean

2206 Commercial Dr.
(3 other Vancouver locations and one in North Van)
Open every day 6:00am-10:00pm

Everytime I have to go east on the Skytrain I stop here. I wish I had to go east more....

Rustic. I know some of the other locations have different decors but this one looks a little run down... not is a bad way. Kind of like the old corner store you went to when you were visiting your grandparents. It's comfy.

Wi-fi and Plugins
Good wi-fi (free) but not a lot of plugins.

Espresso Drinks and Coffee
Great. Their espresso always has that full bodied flavor I like, with a hint of sweetness. I enjoyed my 16 oz americano with an apple oatmeal muffin which was still warm... STILL WARM!!! They boast their own roasting facility and therfore always carry a wide selection of roasts. The only one I've ever had out of the store is the Mojo Roast, A chocolaty medium dark. MMMMmmmm chocolaty medium dark...

Other than the muffin, they had a great selection of baked goods as well as a small but diverse selection of sandwiches that weren't displayed. That makes me think that they're fresh.

Aloof would be the best word. It may be that they are so engrossed in making you the best espresso drink you've ever had but I've never had a JJ Bean barista say anything to me. They aren't very engaging. I still go back because of the quality of product but say "hi" or something. Ask me about the weather or if I like the Canucks.... ANYTHING!

Bottom Line
I wish I owned this place. It's awesome. They have a great product and they're a little more focussed on coffee/espresso than the other shops I've reviewed. Less about the food more about the coffee. Now if we could get their baristas talking a little more we might have the best darn coffee joint in the city.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Review #3 - the elysian room

the elysian room
1778 west 5th ave
Vancouver , BC
V6J 1P2
mon-fri 7am-10:30pm
sat-sun noon-10:30pm

Amazing. Very peaceful and soothing. It is a small cafe which I like therefore the noise level would never exceed your patience. They played soft but enjoyable music. Derek thinks it would provide a great study or reading atmosphere. A good local feel. The set up is nice as the counter is there right when you walk in the door so that those people who are getting coffee to go will not disturb others who are sitting in the shop. I thought that was great.

Wi-fi and Plugins
I believe they had free wireless as there was someone in there with a computer, but we did not bring a computer of our own to prove this. sorry.

Espresso Drinks and Coffee
Derek and I both had straight up coffee. It was absolutely incredible. Each cup of coffee is made to order and is individually brewed in the Clover, an automatic french press machine. The price for a cup of coffee ranges from $2-$3.25, but it is well worth it. They serve Intelligentsia coffee but are currently trying out Novo coffee and are most likely going to make the switch to this new Denver based company. We had the Novo coffee (it was called Hache from Ethiopia, with one smell of the beans, we had to get it). They had a Synesso espresso machine and the espresso drinks were average in price. I appreciated how much they cared about coffee at this place.

We went in the later evening (as they are open until 10:30pm) so I had a chocolate pistachio biscotti and Derek had an apple cranberry cookie. They were both very tasty. They had a few other pastries and treats as well as some wraps for lunch or dinner. They were average in price.

Great. The guy who helped us recommended to the Hache coffee and had us smell it beforehand and was very excited to serve it to us. When the other barista brought us our fresh coffee she said "the flavour of the coffee gets better as it cools a little bit, so I would recommend doing that". To me that shows passion just in the fact that she wanted to let us know that. They were also kind enough to clear our dishes for us. They seemed very well trained on the espresso machine and had great customer service. A+ in my book.

Bottom Line
I can't rave about this place enough. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of being there and were really soaking it up. We wish we lived in the neighborhood and that this was our local coffee shop. The shop is a bit small which can be an issue with overcrowding if it got to that point, but that is a personal preference. Also they do not open until noon on the weekends which I don't like and if I lived in that neighborhood I would be disappointed to not be able to roll out of bed on Saturday morning and get coffee from there. But I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Review #2 - Bojangles Cafe

Bojangles Cafe
#1089 - 1097 Marinaside Crescent
Yaletown, Vancouver , BC
V6Z 2Z4

Different. Not what I expected. Lots of natural wood finish decor. Kind of like something in Whistler. Very "Ski-chalet"-esque. Lots of level tables and lots of bar height tables and a GRRREAT living room area complete with fireplace. Betcha the Christmas Tree goes in that area.

Wi-fi and Plugins
They had Wi-fi but it was password protected. My server gave me the password but it didn't work. A good selection of plugins throughout the store.

Espresso Drinks and Coffee
AGAIN, I had an Americano. It tasted good even though the crema was not great. I noticed they served JJ Bean Coffee so they have a good product and a good drip setup. Their Nuova Simmonelli machine looked quite new. My wife's hot chocolate was rather average. No whip... NO WHIP. WHAT IS THAT??? Prices were a little below average.

I had a day old ham and cheese scone which tasted brand new. It was awesome. Wanda had a toasted bagel and said it was really good too. They had QUITE an extensive food selection (wraps, sandwiches, soups, lasangna). Prices were below average.

Nice. Our server didn't make any eye contact and I couldn't hear her when she spoke to me. I thought she wasn't the most experienced barista. She could have pulled a better shot for my Americano with a little tweaking.

Bottom Line
Well this was a great restaurant that served better than OK coffee and espresso drinks. Their food selection was above average. Their location makes a big difference. It's stunning and a great place to just sit for a while and look at the water. 4 other Vancouver locations including Ambleside, Denman and Waterfront.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Staff!!

I'm welcoming a new reviewer to this blog. Her name is Browntown and she was a manager at the Well when I started there. All you need to know is that she can kick you @&& on an espresso machine and is from Oregon and that automatically make her a great judge of coffee (and a poor judge of college football teams...lol).

Get ready for Browntown's reviews coming to this blog from time to time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Review #1 - The Well Cafe

3271 Dunbar Street (17th and Dunbar)
Open 6:30am-6pm M-F
7:30am-5pm Sat
Closed Sunday

Well here is my first review. I'm starting off easy because I work here. But I also think I have a lot of knowledge of this place.

It's a little small. Only 18 seats and a little narrow. The visuals can range from "leaves something to be desired" to "peaceful and calming", depending on your tastes. All music played is instrumental, 2 comfy chairs.

Wi-fi & Plugins
No Wi-fi but there are plugins next to the Well (a powerbar) and behind the bench seats on your right as you enter the store.

Espresso Drinks and Coffee
It has improved greatly in the 18 months I've worked there. The new Mazzer Grinder is the biggest reason that the espresso is at its best right now. Good barista training is also a big reason. The drip coffee is good as well. It's very consistent because they have only one dark and one medium roast and it never changes. My favorite drink Medium Americano. Caramello is their signature drink, basically a mocha with caramel substituted for chocolate, topped off with a chocolate.

Good selection. New sandwiches look good and are tasty. Baked goods are fresh, but not decadent. The Cranberry Apricot Oatmeal Bar is a nice snack, but get one with a lot of cranberries. The lemon loaf is also really good. Soups are fantastic!!! Cinnamon buns come from Grounds For Coffee, because nobody does it better.

I guess that would DEFINITELY be a conflict of interest if I commented on that!

I believe that The Well Cafe is a hidden gem. It's a cafe that caters to it's locality and doesn't have the trendy feel of some (most) other Vancouver cafes but their product is good. A good place for lunch or a snack. A great place to read with a big cup of coffee if you get the good chairs.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's This About?

My name is Paul and I have an undying passion for coffee. I love drinking, roasting, and making coffee drinks. I am a barista at a very good cafe called The Well Cafe.

I visit a lot of cafes because of my passion, so I thought I'd start reviewing them. If you don't see a review of a cafe that you're interested in, it would be for one of two reasons:
1. I haven't been there yet (in which case let me know or send me YOUR review)
2. It's not very good. For legal reasons I won't be posting bad reviews. In case I get.. you know... sued!!

I hope this Blog is of assistance to you in your pursuit of a great cup of coffee.

Coming soon, my first review.....