Dream teams have had a big role to play in our history. Captain Planet had one. The Power Rangers were one, Thundercats too. The Canucks had one in, oh wait, never mind. Anyway, the coffee royalty of Vancouver have conspired behind the scenes to build a team so skilled, so enthusiastic and so caffeinated that the mere bringing together of them could only result in one thing… Nemesis coffee.
It’s what you get when you mix five talented coffee nerds, get them wired, give them a stupidly high budget and set them loose in Gastown.
Pour Over – $4.50 I tried two different coffees on my visits – One an Ethiopian from Slate Coffee and one a Kenyan from Elephant Coffee. Both of them brewed via their outrageously sexy v60 pour over station. Their pour over technique is impeccable, the coffees are clearly well dialed in for their setup and the end result were two cups of bright, sweet and fruity coffee with great body and mouth feel. The Ethiopian especially enjoyable, as it had some great fruit flavours as it cooled down.
Macchiato – $4 A smooth, velvety milk drink with a big punch of espresso. Not too overbearing but definitely on the strong end of things. The acidity was very pronounced and the fruit flavours of the espresso actually went really well with the milk, which is hard to pull off.
Duck and Waffles – $16 Stop what you’re doing right now, put down the spoon of peasant-like cheerios you’re eating and get the duck waffles from Nemesis Coffee into your face instead. They’re un-bloody-believably good. Do you like duck? Pfft, you’re weak. Double duck you say? Now we’re talking, but you’re still looking a bit like a nobody. THRICE DUCK? Welcome to the throne of awesome. In case, for good reason, you have no idea what on earth I’m talking about – the waffles have three different types of duck on them. Coffee smoked duck slices, braised duck leg and crispy duck renderings. Combine said duck with hoisin, cucumber (for a crunch) and one of the lightest, fluffiest, moist waffles I’ve ever had and you’ve got one of the best breakfast items in all of Vancouver.
Bircher Muesli – $9 The bircher was fruit themed. It was topped with stewed pears and some form of a jam/compote. This hand made muesli was nicely balanced, crunchy and mixed well with the yogurt. I usually find that these kind of dishes are always too sweet but this was very subtle, which made it immensely enjoyable.
In addition to a great menu, there are some ready made snacks in the counter, including stop sign sized cookies and delicious looking pastries (which admittedly I didn’t try).
It’s a pretty huge venue, with forty seats, including a large communal table. Visually, Nemesis Coffee is stunning – it’s a mash up of light wood colours, metal and white accents. Thrown in for good measure are some plants to keep it looking ‘Vancouver’ and great little logo touches all over the place (it’s an reverse heart shape that you’ll find dotted around). The massive bar, that dominates your view when you enter, is a baristas wet dream, featuring every high end brewing device you can imagine. There’s a huge, sexy Synesso MVP Hydra espresso machine, a long 5 section pour over station (complete with Bluetooth enabled Acia scales) and the coffee is stored in long test tube style jars, ready to be ground. The two EK43 grinders look hilariously small in this space, given that they’re beasts once you get up close. It’s obvious that this is a painstakingly well designed venue that cost a small fortune.
It’s not on the main drag of Gastown but only a short stroll to the intersection of Cambie and Hastings streets. For transportation, there are lots of buses that stop close by, pay parking spots on the street, a nearby parkade plus a skytrain station about 5 minutes away on foot.
There are two of them: they’re basic but decently sized, clean and they have hilarious logos on the doors. The place is brand new so there’s not really much that could go wrong here.
First off, there are five owners (James, Albert, Cole, Jess and Josh) so there’s a pretty low chance they’re going to suffer from staff shortages! When you enter the coffee shop you’re immediately presented with the front of the bar and a lively “Welcome to Nemesis Coffee”. This small act in itself is such a refreshing change from a lot of coffee shops that will welcome you, but not quite as enthusiastically. The staff are about as friendly as you can get, they love to chat about coffee and you can tell that they are SO happy to finally be open. When you order your food they give you a token that has the name of an artist and an album on it, which has always led to great conversations with them when they drop off your coffee/food too.
It’s an impossibly wrong attitude to have, but I’ll forever compare Vancouver to Melbourne when it comes to the coffee scene. Melbourne have a time advantage over us, so their coffee game is, quite frankly, the best in the world. Vancouver just got an upgrade, as far as I’m concerned. After only a few days open, I can confidently say that Nemesis Coffee is going to be / already is one of the best coffee shops in the city. It’s got the looks as well as the substance to back up the visual appeal, whilst being relaxed and inviting. The food and coffee are, from day one, incredible and they have a dream team running the place that should result in a coffee shop that’ll make even the most hardened St Ali fans excited. Oh and I even hear that their owner meetings have mandatory superhero costumes where they wear their underpants outside of their clothing. #fact
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