“It’s you hotpot?” was the first thing I said when someone told me about this coffee shop. Or wait, it’s not really a coffee shop, it’s a coffee window. Or rather it’s a coffee stand. With a window. Anyway, back to the name. “What on earth?” was the second thing I said. “Surely that’s a made-up word?”.
Well, Iktsuarpok Coffee Stand has arrived. It’s unique, it’s innovative and it’s awesome.
Flat White – $4 Beans – Moving Coffee Phantom
Right off the bat, they’ve made an excellent choice with their espresso, as Moving Coffee is one of the finest roasters in Vancouver (and in Canada in my humble opinion, as they made it into our Top 10 Roasters and Top 10 Coffee shops lists in 2018 and 2017). To be fair, this drink came recommended by the owner of Moving Coffee, so I knew it was going to be something special.
The espresso flavours were balanced and sweet, the milk was expertly steamed and the latte art was beautiful.
Oat milk is the new craze in Vancouver and it’s great to see that it’s an option here. The balance of flavours were sublime, with the oat milk blending nicely with the caramel notes of the Phantom Espresso.
Note: If you want to know where the best places to find Oat Milk in Vancouver are, I wrote a pretty big list here.
Matcha Latte – $4.50
Matcha – Some sort of fancy stuff from Japan
I’m usually the first to turn my nose up at a Matcha Latte. This is because in my experience I’ve found most drinks that use this bright green powder to be awful (in Vancouver at least). The Instagram community chewed me out for this recently, but unanimously recommended I try this drink here instead.
The Iktsuarpok Coffee Stand version was outstanding. Smooth milk, a light and sweet taste from the Matcha with just a hint of rich flax flavour (in a good way).
I’d definitely drink one of these again.
There’s no food here…. yet. Keep an eye on their Instagram for when they do or don’t decide to bring in grub.
4/3/2019 update – they contated me to say they have now slices of pie from the Pie Shoppe. I’ve not tried them yet but I will soon!
Iktsuarpok is run by a husband and wife duo called Kento & Rika, who are absolutely delightful people! They’re welcoming, chatty, like to laugh and joke, they know their products inside out and are inspiringly optimistic about the future of coffee in Vancouver.
They’re also clever buggers because they immediately worked out who I was (tall, English accent, asking WAY too many questions etc). As such, I actually sent in spies to make sure they weren’t just sucking up to me for a good review. The reports back were very positive; they’re friendly as hell to everyone!
Be more like Kento and Rika, people.
Here comes the innovation part – the venue is the street. Well, sort of. They have a bar, espresso machine, shelves, fridges etc. Essentially, everything a coffee shop has, only you’re not allowed inside, as the building is locked down for the office workers only. However, the solution they have is a window open to the street.
What ends up happening is people hang out in the fresh air socializing, drinking their drinks and generally having a good time. I’ve met a few people outside and had some awesome chats. It’s not going to be for everyone, but I found it great fun.
Protip: Bring an umbrella when it’s pouring. I got nailed by a few huge splats of rain on one of my visits.
Sidenote: if you manage to sneak your way inside there are awesome little additions to their space, like a replica of the clock Kento had in Japan when he lived there.
Sadly this is the one negative part of a visit to Iktsuarpok Coffee Stand. It’s in the Downtown East Side, so it’s a crap shoot on whether you’re going to have an impromptu street-theatre scene play out due to the homeless/mentally ill/drug addict issues the area is so infamous for. For the record, I’ve walked this area a hundred times and never had anything happen to me, even later at night. I’m a 6ft4, 200lb man though. I can definitely see how this wouldn’t be an area many are comfortable visiting. Give it 5 years, this whole place will be a gentrified paradise, in my opinion.
There ain’t any, it’s the DTES, go pee in an alleyway!
Iktsuarpok Coffee Stand is an amazing evolution in the Vancouver coffee scene. It’s forgone the expensive and time-consuming parts of a regular coffee shop and instead bundled them all into a tiny window. It’s an innovative way to run a business in our cities brutally expensive climate. Their coffee game is excellent, their service is outstanding and their Matcha, dare I say it, has converted me from a hater to a lover!
And, if you look closely, you’ll see someone peeing in the alleyway opposite.
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