Tuesday 29 January 2013

Coffee Crawl

As part of my new job at JJbean, they want us to really get into the world of coffee by encouraging us to try out espresso at different cafes.  I have gone around to a few of my favorite cafes in Vancouver, and couple in my home town Kelowna, and written a small review of each based on just ordering an espresso at each cafe. 

Vancouver Cafes 

Matchstick Coffee Roasters 

Espresso served: Catalogue 

Aroma - subtle sweetness 
Taste - sweet fruit , thick Caramel. 
Body - buttery feel
Acidity- bright
Finish - short and pleasant 

Pleasant, easy-drinking espresso. As expected, it was served with water and a spoon on a saucer. Beautiful, thick crema with a subtle sweet aroma. It had a sweet, fruity taste along with a slight hint of caramel. The atmosphere in Matchstick is very much like JJbean; good music playing, really unique decor with exposed beams and brick mixed with clean white walls. I enjoyed matchstick very much. They have a large community table made out of a tree that really makes the space. They play their music from an old record player, on old Bose speakers which is awesome. Very kind staff, and overall a very enjoyable experience.

49th Parallel Roasters

Espresso served: Epic espresso

Aroma - sweet 
Taste - berry like sweetness and toasted almonds 
Body - creamy ..thick
Acidity - low acidity 
Finish - long lasting sweetness 

This espresso was very unique tasting, much different than the espresso I had just had at Matchstick. Presentation was very different, served on a wooden platter with indents for the espresso water and spoon - pretty cool. It was a very pleasant and easy drinking espresso but had very bold flavours. I tasted berries, mainly strawberry, and toasted almonds. The atmosphere in here is confusing to me. Kind of a mix between modern and sophisticated. Not as comfortable feeling as other cafes but the coffee makes up for it. The music, however, was wonderful - Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, The Shins, Bright Eyes. 

Cafe Divano

Espresso served: 49th Parallel's "Old school espresso" 

Aroma - dark, cocoa sweetness 
Taste - dark caramel, dark chocolate 
Body - full and thick 
Acidity - low acidity 
Finish - short 

In all honesty, I was really not a fan of this espresso. Neither was the barista who served it to me, who was the owner of the cafe, and definitely knew what he was doing. It was quite dark tasting, very thick, and overall not very complex and simply not pleasant to drink. My personal preference in espresso is a sweet, complex, pleasant tasting drink that goes down smooth, without the need for cream or sugar.  However the cafe was very nice! Very cozy and the staff and I talked coffee for quite some time. A nice little place.

Kelowna Cafes

Streaming Cafe

Espresso served: Matchstick Coffee Roasters "Catalogue"

Aroma - subtle dark sweetness 
Taste - dark fruit , thick caramel. 
Body - buttery feel
Acidity- high to medium
Finish - short and harsh..

Streaming Cafe outsources their espresso from multiple roasters. The espresso they had on when I visited was the same as I had when I was at Matchstick in Vancouver. However it did not taste the same. It was similar, but over-extraction made it harsh and not as pleasant as it should have been. I could taste the similarities in flavour and body, they were just stronger, in a bad way. To be fair it is not always like this. In general, this place is my favourite spot in Kelowna for coffee and atmosphere. They have live music that they stream online from some really awesome artists. Every time I'm in Kelowna this is the only place I can find decent coffee! 

Bean Scene Coffee Works

Espresso served: No special name here. Just their "Espresso roast"

Aroma - roasty
Taste - dark toasted nuts/roasty taste
Body - thick 
Acidity- very low
Finish - short, unpleasant 

Bean Scene is one of Kelowna's only roasters. Their cafes are quite popular in the summer with the hippie scene, so most people avoid this cafe and head across the street to Blenz. I was quite disappointed when I finally went inside to try out this coffee which I had heard so much about. The espresso was roasted very dark, which in my opinion is just not nice. It was dark and roasty tasting, with an unpleasant feel and finish, and I dont think it was over-extracted, as I watched the barista pull the shot. Inside was just like I thought, dirty, smelly and just not nice. However!! They also have a location on the other side of town, where they roast their coffee, and it is awesome. You can see all the equipment out in the open in this high ceiling cafe/roastery. Cool place, not cool coffee.. In my opinion ;)

In summary, it was very interesting going to all of these different cafes and trying their coffee. I learned a lot about how different everyones tastes are and how different espresso can be from one place to another. I also realized the importance of knowing how to properly pull a perfect shot every time. This was a great experience that I will continue as I learn more and more about the coffee world. (JJbean is still my fave)

While the Vancouver coffee scene is obviously thriving, with an endless amount of unique cafes with amazing coffee to choose from, Kelowna is seriously lacking. This makes me sad, because I love Kelowna and would one day like to live there again. Come on Kelowna, get to it!! Maybe I will just have to do it myself...



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