I have a theory and I’m pretty much the only one in the Vancouver coffee scene that can get away with saying it. Hastings St has a crack cocaine problem.
Before I’m hung drawn and quartered by social justice warriors, allow me to explain. I don’t mean crack in the DTES. I mean the sneaky bits of addictive drugs that coffee shop owners on this road keep sneaking into their goods.
The Garden has their crack cocaine cookies. Prototype almost certainly put something in their coffee, because it’s beyond addictive. And now a new kid on the block is here and there’s only one way I can explain their Avocado toast…
What’s the coffee like in Pennyroyal Coffee?
Beans: A custom blend from JBC
Pennyroyal started life in Indonesia so they opted to use a Sumatran bean for their espresso.
I opted for the Cortado (no surprises there) and found it to have a great espresso to milk ratio, with a slight bite from the espresso. This is probably due to the Sumatran coffee being slightly darker. The milk was steamed perfectly, there was great latte art on it and it lasted about 1 minute before I greedily necked the whole thing. Bloody delicious.
Beans: Modus Coffee Roasters ‘Dom’
The ‘Dom’ roast from Modus is what I would consider their ‘easy-drinking’ coffee. It was incredibly well balanced, had a nice big body to it with some bright, syrupy sweetness. It was made perfectly and was most definitely easy drinking!
Their other drink options include several teas, Matcha, Chai and Hot Chocolate. Altmilks are available for your drinks too.
What’s the food like in Pennyroyal Coffee?
Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs
Avocado Toast is apparently the reason why Millenials can’t buy houses these days. Nothing to do with Baby Boomers completely fucking our economy, nope, green fruit. Well from last week onwards I don’t care, because I’d happily never own a house if it meant I could forever eat the Avocado Toast at Pennyroyal. In a word, it’s spectacular. The avocados were the perfect level of ripeness. They were seasoned to exactly the right level. The sourdough (from Nelson the Seagull) was crunchy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside. The eggs were soft poached to perfection.
I know it’s just a basic dish but the Sistine Chapel is just paint on plaster. This thing was a masterpiece.
Which brings me to the crack cocaine. Because we’re talking about such a basic dish and Cynthia, one of the owners downplayed the complexity of it so much, my logical conclusion is that there’s crack cocaine in it. Because I can’t wait to have another one/get my next fix!
Brown Butter Cookie
I may butcher this description but the way I understand this works is that the butter is heated until it “browns” which gives it a nutty flavour. This is then used in the cookie dough. The result is a chewy and rich cookie, that’s a perfect example of how you should make a cookie. The flakes of salt on top subtly boost the flavour and add a nice little crunch.
Pennyroyal took over the old Aer Cafe venue but totally revamped the place. There are wood accents running throughout, with exposed brickwork in areas. There is a communal table and the one thing I love more than that – a bar to sit at!
There’s also plenty of window seats and a couple of two-seaters.
The bar is big enough to have a pastry display case and if you poke your head towards the back of the shop you’ll see their massive kitchen.
It’s a beautiful display of subtle but striking design.
Laptop users: try to stick to the communal table and the window seats.
They’re located in an area called East Village, which is a fancy way of saying East Vancouver. There are several buses that stop by and Mobi bikes are about a 5-minute walk away. On the south side of Hastings there are loads of 2-hour free parking spots, plus plenty of paid parking around the area.
There’s one bathroom, it looks great and is nice and spacious. Not much else to say really!
Pennyroyal is managed by a husband and wife duo – Cynthia and Max. They’ve already run a coffee shop in Indonesia, so they’re veterans of how service should work. When you enter the shop you’ll almost certainly be met by one of them and it’ll be a lovely warm greeting. They both know their products inside out and if you get the chance to chat with Cynthia about her baking you’ll find she’s one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet. Honestly, she should have the ego of Gordon Ramsay, with how great her food is.
Max is the more coffee focused of the two and this comes out with the chats he has with people at the bar. It’s fascinating to watch how people gravitate towards this area to shoot the shit with him about their favourite roaster, espresso machine and anything else coffee-related.
This area of East Van has sort of snuck up on me, to be honest. You can still see the rough around the edges parts, but with incredible coffee shops like Pennyroyal opening up, it’s swiftly becoming one of the most interesting areas of Vancouver. Max and Cynthia have created an incredible space. From the amazing coffee to the world-class food and the subtle but very beautiful designs, I’m confident that this is going to become a highly talked about and appreciated landmark in the Vancouver coffee scene.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to dream about that Avo Toast!