I first met Dusty and Marina, the owners of Agro Roasters, at a latte art competition last year. Dusty and I were lucky enough to be picked as judges, so we immediately got chatting about coffee. What I came to realise is that he was a thoroughly nice chap with an absolute WEALTH of knowledge on coffee, but not in a braggy and obnoxious way. That summarizes his coffee shop perfectly; it’s a hub of intensely good, high end coffee, but it’s done in a chilled and relaxing way, highlighting aesthetics and quality over pretentiousness and inaccessibility.
v60 Pour Over Coffee – $4
I had a Sumatran roast prepared for me by one of their baristas, Nelson. It doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the few people in Vancouver qualified up to the eyeballs when it comes to coffee, so unsurprisingly this was a masterpiece. Insanely well balanced, nicely fruity and a really pleasant aftertaste.
Cortado – $3
During my next visit, I had a cortado. Just like the previous drink, it was perfectly balanced, with the milk to espresso ratio being expertly delivered by a barista who was happy to chat about the fact she was a racially handicapped Australian (note to Canadians, I’m a Brit therefore I’m allowed to say things like that). Jokes aside this drink was amazing.
Grilled Cheese with Avocado – $6
I know what you’re thinking, it sounds really odd. What is this supposed to be, English-Mexican fusion? This is pretty much the only time in history that mixing ANYTHING with British food ended up in an acceptable result. In fact it’s not just acceptable, it’s now the only way I’m ever planning to eat grilled cheese at home.
The aged cheddar was melted over a couple of slabs of sourdough from Beyond Bread, then soft avocado slices were placed on top. The avocado cut the richness of the cheese perfectly, adding an interesting texture, whilst the bread provided a great base to bring the whole thing together. It sounds simple but it really works well.
As I mentioned earlier, Dusty is a personable and thoroughly fun guy to chat to. He’s cultivated a team of staff that are welcoming, helpful and always keen to laugh and joke with you. When they’re not serving customers they’re laughing and joking with each other behind the bar, which makes it a really relaxing atmosphere to eat and drink in.
Agro Roasters is white. Very, very white! The walls are white, the floor is white, the bar is white, the espresso machine is white and the beautiful metal seats are, you guessed it, black… but it’s all blended together nicely with some natural woods. A highlight of the venue is a large communal table as well as some individual seats and a huge window into the roasting room. It’s here that Dusty and co create their amazing coffee, so home roasters pay attention. The decor allows for some great photos to be taken; point your camera anywhere and you’ll have Instagram worthy photos with no skill needed.
Finally there is also a large wall of local artists’ paintings and pictures, which gives the place a community feel to it.
Sadly Agro Roasters’ location is not the best. It’s on a really busy road (Clark Drive) so parking is almost always a nightmare. There are some buses that stop on Hastings St, which is only a short walk away, but there’s no Skytrain stop around this location unfortunately. There’s not much else around here, but if you are in the area stop into Espressotec, buy an espresso machine, tell them I sent you and maybe they’ll give me a commission!
The bathrooms are shared between all the venues in the building, so we’re not counting them in the review. This is good because there’s not much to them really – basic rooms with basic loos!
OK, it’s out of the way and a bit of a pain in the arse to get to, but honestly, if you’ve not made the effort to get out to Agro Roasters yet, you really should. It’s got so much going for it: great coffee, awesome staff, some really impressive food and an atmosphere that can give even the most stylish Gastown joint a run for their money. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place ends up on our 2017 top 10 list.