The 10 Best Vancouver Coffee Shops of 2018
NOTE: This list has now been replaced with the 2019 version here.
Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I was writing the 2017 awards. 2018 has been a busy year for coffee lovers. Summer was especially busy, with thirteen new shops opening in Vancouver alone. Consequently, this year’s public vote for the best brunch, best roaster and best coffee shop has been nothing short of epic. I’m really excited to bring you the list of the 10 best Vancouver coffee shops of 2018, but before that…
You’ll see that I mention Siply throughout this top ten, full disclosure, this is an app I made to save you money in amazing coffee shops. I do a cost comparison on two drinks on the menu, to show you how much you save if you use the app. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or email me if you want to know more.
I just want to take a quick moment to thank all of you for taking part in the polls this year. There were thousands of votes, lots of insults and some hilarious attempts at gaming the system. There were also far too many votes for Nemesis as best roaster. Hint: The Nemesis crew don’t roast coffee… yet.
Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The 10 best Vancouver coffee shops of 2018 as voted by you!
1822 W 1st Ave
Latte Price: $4.75
Latte Price with Siply: $3.71
Filter Coffee Price: $3.25
Filter Coffee Price with Siply: $2.54
KAHVE has been on my lists of best coffee shops since I started writing them. So it’s no surprise to see them back again. 2018 saw them expand their coffee selection from just Phil & Sebastian to carrying Detour too. You can expect amazing espresso-based drinks and some really solid filter coffee made using a Clever Dripper. They also have a solid brunch game, placing 5th in our best brunch awards. Where they really shine though is their service. Every time I go into KAHVE I’m greeted with beaming smiles, happy baristas and the occasional high five!
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. They have an absolutely incredible Cortado here but the missus always goes for the “best London Fog she’s ever had”. Nine times out of ten I go for the smoked salmon toast for brunch. Eleven times out of ten I buy a pecan chewie… OK FINE, two pecan chewies.
9. Moving Coffee Roastery
64 E 3rd Ave
Compact and insanely high quality is probably the best way to describe Moving Coffee. It’s a tiny venue, but the standard of coffee they roast is some of the best in Canada. As a result, I’ve had countless coffees here that have truly blown my mind. My opinion is that Edmond, their head honcho, is probably one of the best roasters on the planet. You can expect a fantastic coffee experience and some amazing pastries, cookies and cakes. They’re based inside a venue called Fife bakery, whose sourdough will bring you to (happy) tears.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. There are two go-to’s I can recommend. Firstly the ‘split’. This is an espresso shot with a macchiato on the side. The macchiato is made with luxurious grass-fed milk. Secondly any pour-over. Literally, any pour-over will leave you happy! OK fine if I have to recommend something, try the Guji.
8. Modus Coffee Roasters
112 W Broadway
Latte Price: $4.25
Latte Price with Siply: $3.32
Americano Price: $3.25
Americano Price with Siply: $2.54
A newcomer to the bricks and mortar scene, Modus Coffee Roasters opened their doors in the last few days of 2017. As a result, they missed out on last years list. However, they did make it to this years 10 best Vancouver coffee shops of 2018 list! Modus had been roasting their own coffee for a few years before opening their shop. I looked through my creepy Google maps tracking stats and I visited Modus more than any other coffee shop in 2018! You can expect amazing service, some of the most consistent pour over coffee in the city, as well as regular weekend popups.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. My pour over of choice is the LATIF roast, but their BARE roast has really impressed me recently. If you’re into espresso, their Oat Milk traditional cappuccino is really impressive.
I’d like to stop for 30 seconds to bring you a quick commercial break.
For the last year, I’ve been working on a project called Siply (you might have noticed that throughout this article I reference whether a shop is part of the Siply network or not).
Siply is an app that enables you to find the best coffee shops in the city then get amazing deals on drinks. Simply put – you can’t get better prices on your drinks anywhere else than this app. I made a little calculator to show this, have a play with it and see what you think:
If you’re keen to try it out, you can download it by visiting the website here.
7. Kafka’s (Shared with Prado due to the same amount of votes)
2525 Main St & 577 Great Northern Way
Latte Price: $4.75
Latte Price with Siply: $3.71
Filter Coffee Price: $4.25
Filter Coffee Price with Siply: $3.32
One of the OG coffee shops in Vancouver, the Main Street location has been open for over eight years! Did you also know that they’ve been open every day of the year since then? As a result, you can expect a team of friendly baristas who really know their stuff. The espresso-based coffee is on the darker end of things with some lighter pour over choices. Main Street has a selection of pastries and sweets, while Great Northern Way has a full food program.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. I definitely visit their GNW location more than Main St, due to their amazing food. Their breakfast quinoa bowl is delicious and enormous, pairing beautifully with a lighter pour over. Don’t get me started on their salted choc chip cookie!
7. Prado (Shared with Kafka’s due to the same amount of votes)
Six locations, check the website for details
Prado is possibly the most well-known specialty coffee brand across Vancouver and now Surrey. They pride themselves on each venue being a community coffee shop, or ‘the people’s cafe’ as they like to be known. As a result, you can expect friendly baristas, comforting food and relaxed venues with no pretentiousness. Their coffee is on the darker end of things, using 49th Parallel‘s Old School Espresso, or darker, in each of their locations.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. If available I favour their medium or lighter roast filter coffee along with a “cookie with no name”. But if I’m feeling tough, I drink straight espresso, for that true Italian style sip. Their new location on Water Street has the most amazing sandwich called “The Kitsilano”. No it doesn’t taste like body bronzer.
6. Olive and Ruby
2839 West Broadway
Latte Price: $4.75
Latte Price with Siply: $3.71
Americano Price: $2.75
Americano Price with Siply: $2.15
Apparently Olive and Ruby were not content with rising the ranks on just the best brunches poll. Nope, they also saw fit to rise four places to take the number six spot of the 10 best Vancouver coffee shops of 2018! Their venue is an Instagrammers dream, with white and wood furniture, a sea of greenery over the walls and a huge colourful mural. The hanging window seats are a visual delight. Olive and Ruby use coffee from Pallet, who won roaster of the year in 2017 and 2018. The staff are warm and welcoming, the food program is a vegetarian/vegans dream and their new sourdough is going head to head with the best the city has to offer.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. I always have a Cortado here. So much so that they know my order before I even speak (didn’t I tell you that the staff were amazing?). If you’re feeling fancy though, be sure to check out one of their specialty drinks such as their activated charcoal rose latte. Noted hot chocolate connoisseur, Audrey, gave their hot chocolate a nine out of ten.
325 Cambie Street
Revolver has been around for way longer I’ve been writing about coffee. In fact, I’d argue that they were probably the first specialty coffee shop to really bring that trendy New York cafe look to Vancouver. The result of their years of experience is an incredibly high-end coffee shop, that specializes in an ever-changing selection of beans from around the world. Their baristas are highly trained, focused on their craft and always keen to nerd out about coffee (try to do it when they’re quiet though, it gets very busy in there).
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. I love to ask the baristas what their recommendation is as the menu is always changing. This way, I force myself to try something new each time. They do an amazing macchiato, regardless of the beans, so if you have to be guided then this would be my recommendation.
4. Agro Coffee Roasters
550 Clark Drive
Latte Price: $4
Latte Price with Siply: $3.12
Filter Coffee Price: $3
Filter Coffee Price with Siply: $2.34
They’re mostly known for their amazing beans, but did you know they do one of the best grilled cheeses in the city? It’s all about the avocado added to it! Food aside, Agro is a beautiful East Van oasis, with a solid coffee program, some of the nicest staff in the business and an owner that’ll give you the shirt off his back if you ask him. Seriously though, don’t ask him, that would be awkward to his staff.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. If you want Instagram fodder, get their cappuccino with chocolate powder. However, if you want to have your taste buds rocked you can’t go wrong with a light roast pour-over, preferably with an Ethiopian bean.
3. Pallet Coffee Roasters
Four locations, check their website for more info
Latte Price: $4.35
Latte Price with Siply: $3.39
Filter Coffee Price: $2.35
Filter Coffee Price with Siply: $1.83
Pallet took the top spot in the 2018 best roasters polls, so you won’t be surprised to hear that their coffee game is incredible. Their Kayon Mountain roast was probably my coffee of the year. However, that’s only one of the dozens of types of great coffee they’ve released in 2018. Their four venues have a comfortable community feel to them, with great food and atmosphere. Their staff are always having fun behind the bar and that enthusiasm is infectious.
Update October 2019: Pallet now has a new location open downtown an is about to open their new HQ.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. The aforementioned Kayon Mountain is a mind-blower if it’s available. If not, aim yourself at an African pour-over. I also think that their ‘Benchmark’ espresso is one of the most versatile beans for milk drinks, so go middle of the road and get a cappuccino. They also placed third in the best brunch awards, so get their avocado toast into your belly while you’re at it.
2. Aubade Coffee
UPDATE September 2019: Sadly Aubade has closed down, but you can check out their new project, Harken, that’ll be opening towards the end of the year.
230 E Pender St
Long White (Latte alternative) Price: $4.50
Long White with Siply: $3.51
Long Black (Americano alternative) Price: $3.50
Long Black Price with Siply: $2.73
Coming in at only 12 votes away from the first place, Aubade proves that you don’t have to be big to be tough! It’s a compact coffee shop that specializes in the experience as much as the coffee. The owner, Eldric, is a multi-award winning Aeropress nerd. As such, it’s a delightful place to sit and have a geeky chat about coffee, whilst he impresses you with his multi-stage brewing process for each coffee that he makes. It’s hard to explain until you see it, but it’s one of the most enjoyable coffee experiences you can have in any coffee shop in any city.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. I’ve never once had a coffee in Aubade that hasn’t thoroughly impressed me. I advise you chat to Eldric, explain what you like and he’ll recommend something. But honestly, it doesn’t matter, because it’s all going to make your brain dribble out of your ears with how great it is. I will give you one recommendation though: In one of your visits (trust me, there’s going to be loads) you should try his alt-milk. Aubade is vegan-friendly and their custom blend of various non-dairy kinds of milk is the best I’ve ever had, anywhere.
1. Nemesis Coffee
302 W Hastings St
Once again, Nemesis takes first place to be crowned the best coffee shop in Vancouver 2018!
Latte Price: $4.50
Latte Price with Siply: $3.51
Filter Coffee Price: $4.75
Filter Coffee Price with Siply: $3.71
Nemesis is the kind of coffee shop that most cities can only dream of, with a perfect combination of community spirit, atmosphere, impeccable food and a coffee program that rivals anywhere in the world. Firstly, you can expect to be greeted with a beaming smile from the baristas or potentially even a hug. Secondly, on the food side of things, you’ll be able to choose from an ever-changing, Michelin star standard menu that nabbed them best brunch in Vancouver 2018. Last but not least, there’s the coffee; expect to be served a rotating selection of the best beans on the planet, brewed via espresso or pour-over.
Vancouver Coffee Snob Recommendation. This is another place where you literally can’t go wrong with what you order. I have a tendency to sway towards pour-over as they do it so well. However, I’m not averse to getting up close and personal with a latte or one of their mocha/shortbread combos. Food is the same: I was dumbstruck by their mushrooms on toast a few months back, so maybe try that if it’s available. Hug wise, I’d say that Jess is the most eager to dish them out, but James is my height so I get to whisper sweet nothings into his ear. Be cautious about hugging Jamie, he’s from the North of England so, and I can’t prove this, he’ll almost certainly try to steal something off you during the hug!
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That’s a wrap!
That’s it for the public poll ladies and gentlemen! Thanks to everyone that voted this year, I couldn’t make these lists without you.
Hit me up in the comments below if you have something to say. Remember that this was a public vote so if your favourite shop didn’t show up then you were obviously on Santa’s naughty list. My advice would be to tip your baristas more in 2019.