Living in Vancouver the past two years, I think it’s safe to say I’ve tried many different things. However, it’s only been in the past few months that I’ve really been able to experience many of the city’s hidden wonders. Going to school full time and living on a large, bustling campus, it’s very easy to become involved in a repetitive routine, where even forms of relaxation can become banal. So while in the midst of studying this weekend for finals (in the summer? Yeah, I know..) I was able to venture into one of Vancouver’s hidden secrets–coffee shops!
It may seem like a normal thing at first, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how many places there actually are to drink coffee in Vancouver. These aren’t just coffee shops either, but rather places to come sit, drink, and for me, study. Once I jumped on the coffee shop bandwagon, there was no looking back, and now I can definitely say I know what separates the good from the bad, the serene from the chaotic, and the stale from the tasty!
So what makes the perfect coffee shop? This weekend I went and explored to find out!
The most important thing to me, is always the atmosphere. When I’m looking for the perfect place to study, or a place to do some light reading, the setting is key. No one likes a dark or cramped space, or irritating music in the background. So when I ventured into a local Blenz Coffee nearby my apartment this weekend, I knew I was there to stay!
Since it was a breezy out, I got a nice oolong tea, served with a pretty blue tea mug. It was great sitting next by the big window, with the sun shining through. The music was also playing at a very light mumble, and the aroma of fresh pastries and different drinks filled my senses. It was quite a pleasant experience!
The next day, I ventured into Yaletown, the up and coming trendy neighborhood of downtown Vancouver. This find has definitely got to be my favorite so far! It was not just a cafe, but also an art gallery. Named Buzz Cafe, the place was a cozy, two story shop, with a variety of couches, tables, and nooks to settle into. It seemed like a great place for all kinds of people–whether meeting with friends, studying, or just a spot to sit and admire art! For me, it was perfect–I was able to sit back, relax, and read about Picasso, Kandinsky, and Pollock while surrounded by local artist’s work. And sipping on an almond, vanilla, rooibos latte no less! mmm!
My Rooibos latte! Served with a nice piece of dark chocolate on the side.
Studying with art all around me!
While it was hard to live up to to that last experience, I still went out and tried a new place on Sunday. This time I tried Calhouns, a combined bakery cafe, in a big large room filled with wooden tables, dim lighting, and a creaky wood floor. It had a very home-like atmosphere, and while the coffee was only really sub-par, my splurge on an Oreo cheesecake was heaven! Not to mention this place is open 24/7, I’ll definitely be returning for some late night snacks.
The inside of Calhouns.
What I love most about all of these places is that none of them had the typical, standardized look of a Starbucks, or other kind of coffee chain. They all had their own unique personalities to them, and really created memorable experiences. It’s refreshing to be able to walk into a store, and actually want to stay and drink a latte, instead of just booking it out the door and into the world.
I think that you only really truly get to know a city once you’ve veered off the tourist path, and this weekend was definitely that! While Vancouver’s selection of coffee shops may not make the guide books, it’s definitely something that all the locals will tell you to check out.
What makes a coffee shop perfect for you? Are you like me, and focus all on the atmosphere, or is it purely about the drinks? I’d love to hear about your favorite experiences!