Tiffin Project

Vancouver’s Most Beautiful Cafes

by Colter Jones on November 8, 2012

Post image for Vancouver’s Most Beautiful Cafes

As a coffee lover I’ve always believed that coffee should be the primary focus of a café. If the coffee is good, I can forgive pretty much anything. That said, the places that I most frequent are those that have went the extra mile to make not only a superior product but also a great atmosphere.

At times I often relate to George Costanza when he said, “If it were socially acceptable I would drape myself in velvet!” There is a certain charm to dirty, unpretentious, hole-in-the-wall cafes that I find quite appealing, but I can understand why those with an appreciation for interior design and branding do not.

I recently read an article that featured 20 of the most beautiful cafes in the world (see here). The list of 20 does not include any cafes from Vancouver, which makes me wonder if our microcosm of delicious coffee joints has been overlooked or if we just don’t make the cut.

Here is a list of some of what I think are the most beautiful and stylish cafes in Vancouver (In no particular order):

2539 West Broadway Avenue | Vancouver
Tel: 604-736-1848
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thomas Haas– there are few Vancouverites who are unfamiliar with the Thomas Haas brand because of how polished and well executed his chocolates are. The same can be said for both his cafes. Limited seating keeps both cafes quite open to allow the lineup of customers to peruse the glass case full of pastry, and wander the store to pick up any gift items from the shelves. A candy wall allows children to expose tasty treats that have been secretly left for them to discover.

325 Cambie Street | Vancouver
Tel: (604) 558-4444
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Revolver – Where to start? First take a beautiful Gastown brick building, then add some design by Craig Stangetta, and some of the best coffee in town. Revolver has the same minimalist old world appeal that many of Stangetta’s designs subscribe to. Wood, Metal, and lack of clutter make this a very nice place to be. The map of the world done completely in nails is particularly cool.
Photo Credit: Mie Hansen

639 E 15 Ave | Vancouver
Tel: 604 558-0639
Website | Facebook | Twitter

MatchStick– Minimalist and open, Matchstick uses its space to make customers feel at home. The primary seating is a large communal table surrounded by cute forest- green chairs that match the espresso machine. Customers can walk to the back of the store where coffee is being roasted, or watch the baristas from a standing bar located right across from the counter. The cool factor increases with the large bank vault door that had been left behind from previous tenants (BMO?).

2902 Main St | Vancouver
Website | Facebook | Twitter

49thParallel/ Lucky’s Doughnuts – Forgive my bias when it comes to this café because I work there everyday. The store front and large parts of the café have been done in reclaimed brick from the Woodward’s building and reclaimed wood has a strong presence throughout. Custom-built communal tables, a fireplace, and a wide selection of seating give Lucky’s a little something for everyone.

1188 Alberni Street | Vancouver
Tel: 604-254-3724
Website | Facebook | Twitter

JJ Bean Alberni– The posh interior of the JJ café on Alberni Street is a radical departure from the typical laid back, warm cafes that JJ Bean is known for. At times the modern styling, light-coloured wood and highly stylized white chairs make you feel like you’re in a showroom and not a café. A departure from JJ’s typical style, but in my opinion their most successful.

740 West Hastings Street | Vancouver
Tel: 604.915.7200
Website | Twitter

Caffe Artigiano Hastings– High Ceilings, brick walls make this breakfast joint one of Artigianos best. There is little departure from the typical rustic Italian feel of the other cafes, but the beautiful space and Vespa scooter centerpiece that matches the espresso machine in colour make this location particularly successful.

2310 Ash St (@7th Ave) 
| Vancouver
Tel: (604) 568-5909
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Caffe Citadella– An old character home located at 7th and Ash that has been converted into a café. Credit Dejan Bozic, part owner and former designer, with the attention to detail throughout the café. Multiple patios and beautiful landscaping make this the perfect summer spot. There are two levels of seating and even a patio for two on the second level overlooking the garden. Perfect spot for a coffee date. Photo Credit: Raul Pacheco-Vega

~ CJ

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamela Jansen November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am

Thanks Colter. A couple of new ones for me to try. Great article

Mushboo November 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Great to see several of our coffeeshops made this list!

Sammy November 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm

What about Prado ;(

John Troy November 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Thank you for posting an article promoting business that are mostly (50%) connected with 49th parallel. Oh right, doesn’t Colter work for 49th?

gwen November 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm

John Troy. 2 out 7 cafes using 49th equals 28% not 50%. Math is not one of your strong points. Jealous much?

Hamish November 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

What about Moja roasters on the Nth Shore and CC Violin Patisserie in West Van??

Colter Jones November 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm

John, I intentionally left some of my favourite cafes off the list because I didn’t want to show favouritism towards the brand that I represent. Sammy alluded to Prado cafe in the comments, which is one of my favourites in the city. Hamish, I tried to keep the list within Vancouver where I usually coffee hop. Thomas Haas made the list, but he has a cafe on Broadway that is of very similar design to the one in North Van. if West Van was on the list I would have included Violin and Crema.

John Troy November 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Colter – You made a list of the most beautiful cafes but left off some of your favourites? I guess this isn’t really a list of the most beautiful cafes then.

Colter Jones November 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Perhaps I should clarify… Certain cafes are left off the list because although I love them and enjoy the ambiance, I had to narrow down my list to judge solely on beauty alone. I think it hard to argue that the two cafes that I chose who use 49th aren’t beautiful. Lists are a difficult thing to do because everyone who isn’t included feels left out in some way. I really love a lot of cafes in this city, but in the spirit of the list I had to narrow it down. John, is there a cafe that you believe should be on the list or one that should be taken off?

cvgate November 16, 2012 at 1:23 am

Culprit at Vine & W. 4th Ave ~ chock-full and chalk-full of beautiful quotes!

Stuart November 22, 2012 at 5:21 am

Hey, ever been to the coffeebar in Gastown? Moder and comfortable and usually busy.

Nicole Parton November 23, 2012 at 9:19 am

Just under 10 years ago, I made my first solo visit to France. I was in Arles, Province, and stopped into a café that looked appealing. It was a hot day and I was lightly dressed in a sleeveless cotton shift I’d found in Provence. France was a place to heal: I’d just emerged from a nasty divorce and weighed next-to-nothing.
Dining at the very center of the sidewalk patio, I couldn’t help but notice how well my orange dress, orange sandals, and large-brimmed orange sun hat complemented the restaurant’s bright yellow walls. Without asking, many, many tourists paused to take my photo … So many that I began to wonder what the big deal might be.
Gradually, gradually, it came to me. I looked at the cover of restaurant menu and realized that it depicted the sidewalk patio of this very restaurant.. And then I looked more closely.
The cover of the menu was a copy of Van Gogh’s famous Le Café de Nuit. I saw the restaurant’s bright yellow walls, and large exterior wall sconces. Van Gogh had painted many scenes in Arles. He had been institutionalized here.
Tourists had been taking my photo because I was sitting at the center of Van Gogh’s painting! And that is the best street café experience I have ever had.

jame d September 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

I love the atmosphere at Milano coffee in Gastown. They play some great jazz, it’s modern but rustic.

Sallie November 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Colter ;
Have you seen Cafe Bica in the Armoury district?
Besides the coffee you will be in for an eye treat.

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