Vancouver has a impressive coffee scene. We got some great coffee in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of East Vancouver from 49th Parallel, Elysian, and Aperture.
Forty Ninth Parallel’s Mount Pleasant spot is centrally located on Main St and E 13th Ave. We walked over here from the place we were staying. Someone with a bike rolled up to the shop at the same time. This is a good sign.
It’s busy and bustling in there. It was not a quiet coffee shop, at least at the time when we were there. But there were still some people working quietly on their computers. There were three or four people behind the counter taking orders and making coffee and an additional person restocking the shelves. And then there was an additional person adding crazy toppings to Lucky’s doughnuts in the back kitchen. There’s plenty to gawk at in the doughnut case while waiting to order your coffee.
There was a mixed crowd of people meeting up, people working on their laptops, and others from the neighborhood just stopping in to grab a coffee. It felt cozy inside with dark wood and warm lighting in some areas, but with outside light spilling from the large northern windows.
We got a latte and an espresso and a glazed raised doughnut. All were excellent. We were especially surprised by the doughnut – perfectly yeasted and chewy, with slightly less sugar than one would expect. My mouth is watering as I write. So good. And the latte – the combination of the light coming in from the side windows and the dark wood community table, and the teal cup and saucer made for a nice photo. I bought an espresso demitasse home for a souvenir.
49th Parallel serves their espresso on a plank with sparkling water and a spoon for sugar:
We spent a bit of time on Main St, but wish we had more. We wanted to explore more to the south, (the SoMa neighborhood as was explained to us by the internets) but our timing didn’t work out that way this trip. But there were plenty of interesting shops and things to see north on Main towards Gastown.
Elysian Coffee lies on the west boundary of Mount Pleasant, just a block west of Cambie St.
The Elysian Coffee on West Broadway was much quieter than 49th Parallel. There was a steady stream of customers, but it wasn’t so busy that you couldn’t talk to the baristas. The building had a brown exterior, and they sport a logo that doesn’t quite match with others who serve specialty coffee. But the coffee experience was very nice.
In contrast to the dark wooden walls of 49th Parallel, Elysian felt much brighter. Their windows look out onto West Broadway, which is a busy street with much more car traffic than pedestrian. Canadian Thanksgiving was coming up, and our baristas showed off a few photos of skillfully-made turkey latte art that they were posting to their instagram account. Our barista gave us tips on other places to check out and not check out, so we took notes to fill out the schedule for the rest of our stay. We decided that we’d check out Lynn Canyon, try to hit Timbertrain Coffee Roasters and Revolver Coffee and visit the Old Faithful shop, but maybe skip over Pallet coffee roasters. And to look out for coffee from Phil & Sebastian if we could find it.
We got an espresso and macchiato, pulled from their Synesso machine.
Aperture Coffee Bar
49th Parallel and Elysian roast their own beans, but Aperture Coffee Bar serves Chicago-based Intelligentsia.
Also situated on West Broadway, in addition to the coffee, Aperture is stocked with a beautiful bookshelf area that looks amazing when the rays of sun stream in through their southern window.
The coffee itself was fine. Intelligentsia is special, but not rare, and I guess I wasn’t too impressed with the preparation of their black cat espresso, at least compared to 49th Parallel and Elysian.
But it was definitely a pleasure to hang out in the shop for a bit and enjoy the ambiance and friendly barista vibe.
One thing that was funny to us about West Broadway was that there was such a high density of sporting goods stores. There seemed to be two or three per block from the massive MEC to smaller ski/snowboard shops. We stopped into MEC to look around and maybe shop and then continued on our day.