Tag Archives: Coffee

DIVAS COFFEE – #916-5300 No.3 Rd, Richmond, BC, Canada (604) 270-3482

19 Apr

PRICE: $3-10

My recent foray into Café Crepe has sparked a drastic but totally predictable addiction.  I am now addicted to Crepes.  Everywhere I go, I ask myself a simple question: does this place have Crepes?  If the answer is no, my God it becomes hard if not impossible to go inside.

So, of course, while strolling down Lansdowne Mall, you can imagine the amount of joy I’m experiencing when I unexpectedly see the pearly gates of heaven in a most unexpected place.  Diva’s Coffee is a place that I have passed several times on occasion, but this time, for some unforeseen reason, it stands out to me.

I soon realize that this is result of the glowing neon ‘CREPES’ sign that’s in place.  I guess addiction makes you more aware of things.

So I quickly go in, and order myself a Nutella Crepe.  I check out their drink menu.  Today is the rare day when I am in the mood to drink something that is not Coffee.  Hmm.  I’ve never tasted an Avocado Bubble Tea Shake before.  Pearls too?  Yes please!

“Forget Marijuana, Crack Cocaine and Heroin, Crepe addiction is no laughing matter.”

One of my new favourite things to do is check out food as it’s being made.  My hostesses are very good sports, and provide a dazzling display of their Crepe and Bubble Tea making ability.  It’s fantastic.

Once they’ve finished the show, I’m off to the table and ready to enjoy my new found culinary master-pieces.

The Nutella Crepe is laced with Powdered Sugar and Whipped Cream.  The Crepe itself is pleasantly warm, with a slightly toasty texture to boot.  The Nutella mixes beautifully and provides that familiar sweet, Chocolate and Nut induced bliss-coma.  The Whipped Cream adds a fantastic fluffy sweetness.  Delightful.

The Avocado Shake is a unique and pleasant surprise.  Avocados complement the Soy Milk and Tapioca Pearls.  A very light taste that proves to be quite refreshing.  Not too sweet, not too light, it would be perfect for a summer day.  As for me, I’m starting summer early, so all the better that I can enjoy it now.

I finish pigging out on my entrees and wave good-bye.

The cravings have subsided, but I’m already experiencing withdrawal.

My hands are shaking, and I’m breaking a sweat.

I suppose I’m doomed to serve as an example to youth that Crepes are the true ‘gateway drug’.

Forget Marijuana, Crack Cocaine and Heroin, Crepe addiction is no laughing matter.

Divas Coffee on Urbanspoon

CAFFE ARTIGIANO – 574 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada

17 Apr

PRICE: $3-10

Granville Street in Vancouver is a blast to visit in the Spring.  The sun is starting to come out.  The good buskers are starting to play music; festive, more upbeat music, as opposed the droning tired tunes that plague the city during the winter season.  Right now it’s one of the very few days we’ve had this year where I feel a craving for something rather cool.

However, me and my foodie compatriot believe that the occasion calls for something far greater than a simple slushie.  Forgive us for being such snobs, but we didn’t come all the way out to Downtown Vancouver to pop into a 7-Eleven.  So off we go searching for any fine establishment that has something cool to refresh our tongues, mouths, and minds.

Strolling through Granville Street, we start doing ‘drive-by perusings’.  That is, we pop into restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores, quickly peruse their menus, and pop right back out.  All done repeatedly with the speed and gutsiness of a drive-by-shooting.  Well, as gutsy as being a foodie can be.

After having executed this little program several times, we come across Caffé Artigiano.  Bright red adorns the porch and entrance.  We creep in, and begin what hopes to be our final drive-by perusal.

Success!  They have something that sounds cold yet doesn’t sound like a waste of our time.  I order the Dark Chocolate Freeze.  My foodie partner orders a Spanish Latte.  I am shocked by the absurdity of her choice.  A hot drink during hot weather?  What a fool.  The fact that she also picks the ‘Chocolate Seduction Cookie’ off the menu does not make up for this shortcoming.  I cannot allow myself to be seduced by such foolishness.

Nevertheless, we parade to the inside of the room, and wait for our orders to finish being made.  Chandeliers adorn the ceilings.  Brownish red tinges all the walls.  Stone tiles under our feet and under our hands; both floors and tables have the cobblestone European vibe going for them.  Funny, the air conditioner is turned rather high.

“The fact that she also picks the ‘Chocolate Seduction Cookie’ off the menu does not make up for this shortcoming.  I cannot allow myself to be seduced by such foolishness.”

Our drinks are soon called out, and our Cookie soon warmed.  The Dark Chocolate Freeze has a rather mild taste.  The Chocolate mixes almost evenly with the taste of what seems like some sort of Coffee Roast.  It’s too light to be a full shot of Espresso.  A mild but refreshingly cool drink.

God the air conditioning is strong.

The Spanish Latte is a beautiful creation.  Condensed Milk and Espresso mingle together to form a leaf of foam.  Semi-sweet, mixed with perhaps two shots (I think, judging by the strength) of Espresso, the warm and creamy Beverage provides a balanced and smooth way to experience a Caffeine rush.

God the air conditioning is strong.

The Chocolate Seduction Cookie is okay.  It fails to seduce me.

God the air conditioning is strong.

I look over at my friend, happily sipping away at the warm delicate drink that I had previously ridiculed and decried repeatedly in my head.

I look over at myself, and find that I’m shivering from head to toe.

What kind of fool orders a hot drink on a hot day?

Apparently one that takes indoor air conditioning into account.

She’s still a fool, though.

Caffè Artigiano (Granville) on Urbanspoon

CAFE CREPE – 796 Granville St. Vancouver, BC, Canada (604) 806-0834 ‎

13 Apr

PRICE: $4-10

Many of you already know that taking photos is now my new phobia, thanks to an unfortunate circumstance that can be described here.  However, I’ve done my best to learn from being kicked out of a restaurant and now try to politely ask as before I point and shoot (with a camera, nothing else, I swear!).  Often times my question is greeted with a raised eyebrow, followed by awkward hesitation, followed by the usual “uh…let me get my manager” spiel.  It’s pretty tiring to deal with

Fortunately, there are occasions when I meet people who are just dying to get themselves on camera.  There are a few good sports out there when it comes to taking photos, and I was lucky enough to encounter them during my visit to Café Crepe.

So let’s fast forward.  I’m at the entrance to the outlet and I approach the cook on duty regarding a possible photo-op.

“There are a few good sports out there when it comes to taking photos, and I was lucky enough to encounter them during my visit to Café Crepe.”

Mind you, as I’m talking, I’m still being given the ‘deer in the headlights’ look, but eventually a certain kind of playfulness is awakened when the manager comes forward to give the okay.

After the modelling session finishes, I’m pleased to sit down on a patio (for the second time this year the weather was cooperative on my day off work) and enjoy some chow with a friend.

Two Crepes arrive on the hand-out plane.  I grab both, one in each hand.  A Prosciutto and Brie Cheese Crepe and a Smoked Meat Crepe adorned with Dijon Mustard and Swiss Cheese.  A Soy Mocha to drink and a scoop of Ice Cream to finish.

After I’ve brought them back to the patio, me and my foodie compatriot begin to munch, catch up with each other and enjoy the weather.

The Crepes are savoury and satisfying.  Prosciutto and Brie Cheese complement each other quite well, with a strong salty punch from the Prosciutto giving way to the smoother, more balanced, savoury sensation of the Cheese.  Smoked Meat provides a wistful taste of Montreal while the Dijon Mustard and Swiss Cheese deliver the Vinegary and subtle Cheese aftertaste.

The Soy Mocha is pretty meh.  The Chocolate isn’t very defined in taste.  It feels more like drinking a Latte.

The Ice Cream is generic Vanilla, but still satisfying.

After having finished a good snack, I look at the staff who are now busy handling the late-noon rush.

They’re still smiling for the camera.

Cafe Crepe (Granville & Robson) on Urbanspoon

JJ BEAN COFFEE ROASTERS – Yaletown, 402 Davie St, Vancouver, BC, Canada (604) 684-9253

8 Apr

PRICE: $4-8

The rain finally lifts for a split second.

The second extends into minutes.

The minutes into hours,

That bleed into the rest of the afternoon and pour into the evening.

Time to stop and watch the world go by.

Walking down the street in Yaletown, Downtown Vancouver, the storm clouds have finally lifted and moved on.  Grumbling from a hard day’s work, they seem to be making their way to bug some other section of the Lower Mainland…maybe New Westminster?  Well, whatever the case, it’s great to finally have the sun get some breathing room.

The city is drenched in the fluorescent glow of liquid sunshine.  Clear water, now glowing white from the dull reflection of the sun on the clouds has settled onto sidewalks, porches, roads, and restaurants.  Like the city is awash in light.

I smile.  Time for one of those moments.

Time to watch the world go by.

“In a moment like this, the world passes by in a glorious instant.”

With a copy of today’s Globe and Mail in hand, I make my way to JJ Bean Coffee Roasters.  I’ve always wanted to check out one of their chains, and now I finally have the excuse that I’ve needed.

I go inside and place my order for a Mocha.  The service is friendly, and the barista introduces me to the resident Coffee Plant.  Sitting in a little flower pot, the draft coming in from an open window seems to animate the vegetable, making it wave at me with a certain nonchalance. 

A smile and a wave.  My Mocha is done, and I’m off to where I need to be at this moment.

Outside, sitting on a balcony, watching the world go by.

Delicate hints of dark chocolate mix in with the creamy-liquid foam the drink.  The taste is ever-present, but subdued.  The familiar warmth of the Coffee mug is reassuring.

In a moment like this, the world passes by in a glorious instant.

 

 

JJ Bean (Davie St) on Urbanspoon

MY CUP COFFE & TEA – #105 – 6011 No. 3 Road, Richmond, BC (604) 270-3990

29 Mar

PRICE:  $3-$10

I’m a little nervous right now.  I was just recently kicked out of a restaurant for the very first time.  Apparently some people don’t take too kindly to having scum like me taking pictures of their food and their restaurants.  Oh well.  I suppose the soul-stealing qualities of cameras are still feared by many food vendors.  I guess I really should’ve seen something like this coming, but honestly given the amount of people with smart phones taking pictures of food, I didn’t think that it was such a big deal.  Chalk it up to experience.  Soul-stealing without consent isn’t safe.  Let that be a lesson to all of you.

So yeah, I am quite nervous right now as I walk into this café.  I’m really hoping that the good folks at this place will be better sports when it comes to soul-stealing.

A slight pause.  I finally pull myself through the door.  The place is nice.  Dark tiles line the floor.  Big windows offer a panoramic view to my right.  Black marble tables line the room with comfy leather chairs standing by their sides.  The Pastry display case is to my left, the cash register in front.  Hiding behind counter, you can catch the steel glint of an Espresso machine.

“I wince each time I click the button, half-expecting to get thrown out of the place again.  Foodie PTSD is catching up with me.”

I place my order.  A Soy Caramel Macchiato and a Chocolate Waffle with Whip Cream on the side.  I pay the cashier, and wait for the order.  I fumble around anxiously with my camera in my pocket.  This is unnerving.  I’m suffering from Foodie Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (FPTSD).  Who would’ve thought getting thrown out of a restaurant would’ve given me such battle scars?

I finally start to talk, anxiously muttering as politely as I can.

“Uhm…could…I…”

My hostess is giving me a blank stare.

“…uh…”

Now a blanker stare.

“…take pictures?  I’m…a blogger.  For food.”

I feel like a twelve year old asking out a girl for the first time.  Some things never change I guess.

She gives me an awkward okay, followed with a forced smile.  Yup.  Some things really don’t change at all.

I finally reveal my camera, stumble around awkwardly trying to look professional, and start snapping photos.  I wince each time I click the button, half-expecting to get thrown out of the place again.  Foodie PTSD is catching up with me.

I’m finally done clicking away and start to appreciate the orange diamonds dancing on my Caramel Macchiato.  Beautiful.  A sip reveals the foam to be of good quality; thick enough to provide a pleasing texture to the tongue, smooth enough to transition between foam to liquid without interruption, and uniform.  No stray bubbles.  An inferior barista makes their drinks feel like microwaved sugary Coffee-Milk with bubbles on top.  Definitely not the case here.  I’m enjoying it.

The Chocolate Waffle looks good and provides a nice Mocha-infused experience.  With Whip Cream on top, and bits of Chocolate Flakes sprinkled around, it makes for a satisfying snack.  My only concern; I wish they served it warm.  It was a little cold for my tastes.

The food finally relaxes me, and I think most of the symptoms of Foodie PTSD are starting to wear off.  I lean back, and enjoy the rainy day the way all rainy days should be enjoyed; inside, with a cup of great Coffee, a snack, and a newspaper in hand.

I fell off the horse a little while ago.  I think I’m back on again.

MyCup Coffee and Tea on Urbanspoon

NOOCH SNACK & CHILL – 6900 No 3 Road, Richmond, BC, Canada, (604) 284-5434

26 Mar

PRICE: $6-$12

Today I skipped lunch, which is something I absolutely hate doing.  Today I’m running from job to the next with almost no end in sight.  Fortunately I have a tiny 30-minute window which will allow me to eat.  Or so I thought.  Briskly walking through No.3 Road in Richmond, I make my way to Nooch Snack & Chill.  I’ve passed by it almost countless times on my bus trips to work, and I figure it’s high time I actually pay that place a visit.

While No.3 road sits as one of the most busy and prosperous areas in Downtown Richmond, the area in which Nooch is located is surprisingly dilapidated.  Ironic that such a neglected area stands right in front of City Hall.  Oh well.  Further musings on irony will saved for another time.  As I draw close to the entrance, I’m not really expecting a whole lot.  Maybe just a cheap sandwich joint staffed with illegal immigrants.

Opening the door, I am rather shocked to see the place so…well…CLEAN.  The walls are a sparkling white with red highlights to accent certain areas of the interior.  The building is spotless, the area sparse, but with pleasing artistic drawings, couches, tables and chairs sparingly placed rather tastefully.

“I used to have a classmate in high school that kept cheeseburgers in his pockets.  Seriously.  And this was before Napoleon Dynamite ever came out.”

A friendly smile emerges from the cash desk.  I’m hesitant.  I have no idea what kind of stuff this place serves, so the man behind the counter helpfully suggests the more popular dishes.  I choose one.

“Would you like that for here, or to go?”

“For here.”

A slight pause follows, followed by the explanation “Unfortunately we’re closing at 6:00 today, would you still like it for here?”

I glance at my watch.  It’s 5:45.

I sigh.  So much for enjoying a relaxing meal.  Ah well.  It’s either 15 minutes or nothing.  Sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have, and it’s either eat here real fast, or eat on the bus on the way home.

I do not like the idea of eating a meal on the bus.

I used to have a classmate in high school that kept cheeseburgers in his pockets.  Seriously.  And this was before Napoleon Dynamite ever came out.

I do not want to have that reputation with the people on the bus.

The decision is now obvious and easy.

“…I’ll just take it for here anyway…”  I wince a little as I say this.

I hate being that jerk customer that stays after-hours to bug service workers.  I work in a food court, and every time someone approaches me for coffee after the store has shut down, I feel like a little part of what makes me human dies inside.

Surprisingly enough, my host seems rather good-natured about it, offers me a seat, and gives the cook my order.  Ham and Swiss Cheese Panini.

As I do my usual rounds of picture taking, my host strikes up a little bit of small talk.  I try to explain to him that I’m really just a writer; I’m not trying to stake out the place.  Nothing to worry about here!

The food arrives pretty quickly.  I start ogling my plate.  Sourdough Panini Bread encases a layer of Ham and Melted Swiss Cheese.  Kettle-Boiled Potato Chips and Salad drenched in what appears to be a Balsamic Vinaigrette stand guard between the main course.  I dig in.

The bread is delightfully warm and crunchy; a welcome change from the gross soggy Oatmeal-like sludge that often passes for warm Panini Bread.  The Cheese is warm and thick, with a pleasantly mild tang.  The Ham…is I think Safeway Select.  Oh whatever, Ham is Ham.

The Salad’s Vinaigrette is light and easy.  The Vinegar is pleasant and offers a pleasant sour overtone, but overall is rather sweet.  The Vegetables offer a refreshing crunch. 

The Potato Chips are either Miss Vickie’s or Kettle Boiled Chips.  That’s fine, I like both brands.

I hastily down the meal as quickly as I can.  I’m the only one left in the restaurant at this point.  Ugh. I feel like that straggling, sickly Wildebeest (which always gets left behind in the group and dies) that you always see in those nature documentaries on Africa.  It’s 6:05.

Expecting to see a menacing frown on my host, I do my best to excuse myself.  He grins, seeming pretty chill about it, shakes my hand, gives me his name, and waves.

Well, Nooch Snack & Chill delivered on the chill part for sure. I guess even the sickly Wildebeest can have its place in the pack after all.

Nooch Snack & Chill on Urbanspoon

TREES ORGANIC COFFEE AND ROASTING HOUSE – 450 Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada, (604) 684-5022

23 Mar

PRICE: $3-$12

Coming up to the entrance of Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House, there is perhaps a greater than 85% chance that you will come across the gate keeper of this café.  A man with a mane of stark white hair, a long beard, and owl-rim glasses.  I call him Santa Claus.  Or his retired, embittered, and disgruntled double.  During the off-season, it appears as if Santa enjoys spending his time here in Downtown Vancouver, watching the world go by while sipping on a cup of Organic Brew.  I think I’ll join him.  But from a distance; he gives me the creeps.  I don’t think my niceness compensates for the naughty at this point of the year, and I don’t want a lump of coal being prematurely hurled at me so early in the year.

His gaze is constant, and his seat is right outside the door.  Always the same seat.  Always that same look.  Implacable.  Impenetrable.  Calculating.  Always.  Me and my foodie compatriot do our best to tip-toe past his watchful eye.  We open the door.

The atmosphere is warm and welcoming.  It’s a place that’s bustling with life, yet is still manages to feel cozy and avoid the rat-in-a-cage vibe that very busy cafes seem to be encompassing more and more.  The lighting is soft and vibrant, yet still bright.  True enough to its namesake, the pillars that line the center of the store are decorated with branches.  Trees inside Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House.  They take their marketing quite seriously.

“…I don’t want a lump of coal being prematurely hurled at me so early in the year.”

Judging from the fact that Cheesecake related articles from The Province’s (A Vancouver Newspaper, for you non-Canadian readers) food columnist have been splashed around this area, I would say that the hottest thing to order at this place would be Cheesecake.  My foodie partner and I order a slice of Mocha and Key Lime Cheesecakes, and a Soy Latte to boot.

We take our warm, Cheesecake bearing, fresh-off-the-dishwasher plates to a corner by the window.  It gives us a clear view of Santa Claus.  Busily munching on our desserts, chatting about work, life, and other random things is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.  And with a room with a view, (of none other than the illustrious patron of gift-giving) this place also doubles as a sort reality show.  A Day in the Life of Santa: The Off-Season.

I take in the full sweet-and-sour flavours of the warm-on-the-outside, cool-on-the-inside Key Lime Cheesecake.  Whip Cream adorns its sides and provides a great complement to the sweet Citrus and Cheese flavours.  All the while, a show is unfolding before us.

Santa stands.  Look at the lacquer and black stain marks on the bottom of his pants.  He’s been sitting there so long, he’s slowing starting to assume the colour of the furniture. Santa is a chameleon.  But I suppose he’d have to be, in order to blend in with mortals.

The Mocha Cheesecake settles in our mouths.  Also possessing the familiar sour taste of Cheese, but combined with the pleasant tang of Dark Chocolate Mocha and Whip Cream.  A firm but pleasing texture.  A satisfying experience.

I look at my Latte cup.  A cat is standing guard.  Hastily etched onto the foam of the drink, but I appreciate it nonetheless.  I take a sip.  The Espresso is full bodied, prominent, yet also avoids the dreaded ‘Burnt Coffee effect’ that some Cafes seem to produce in their desire to create a strong Espresso taste.  I wish the foam was a little more prominent, and a little thicker, but it’s still a reasonably pleasing drink.

My foodie partner and I continue our banter and watch the world pass by.  We’re all feeling jolly right now.  Especially when the Patron of Christmas is quite literally, right outside our window.  Even Saints need their Coffee break.

Trees Organic Coffee on Urbanspoon