302 W Hastings St
Mon - Fri: 8am-4pm
Sat - Sun: 9am-4pm
Nemesis GNW Review: A Coffee Shop So Great, I Genuinely Don’t Know Where We Go From Here
OK look, we all know what’s going to happen in this review already right?
The team at Nemesis has been around for a while now, with their Gastown and North Van locations constantly sweeping up awards and generally being hailed as some of the best places to drink coffee.
So, the fact they’ve opened up a third location means you’re all probably expecting the same?
Well, you’re so very fucking wrong.
Instead of creating another great Nemesis location, they’ve mainlined inspiration into their eyeballs.
They’ve free-based creativity.
I’m fairly certain they’ve blown rails of architectural perfection.
Nemesis GNW isn’t just another Nemesis.
This might genuinely be the best coffee shop on the planet.
What’s the Coffee like at Nemesis GNW?
This is arguably one of the most exciting parts of this new location – they’re now roasting their own coffee.
Their in-house roasting team has an incredible lineage – having roasted for some of the biggest names in Vancouver.
They also roast only direct to farm relationship coffees. This means they’ve gotten to know the farmers at a personal level before purchasing their coffee.
Beans: House Roasted India Honey Carbonic Maceration
That’s right – Indian coffee.
Their director of coffee, Damian, has some strong ties into the Ratnagiri estate and has worked with them to develop some truly incredible coffees.
I’ll be honest – my experience with Indian coffee has been average at best, but this one was truly, truly stellar.
Juicy and syrupy mouthfeel. Bright punchy fruit notes and intense sweetness.
It was hand-delivered by none other than Yuki, who used to work at their Gastown location, defected to Melbourne then came back to Vancouver because clearly, Van reigns supreme.
Take that you dirty convicts (sorry James).
Oat Milk Cortado
Beans: House Roasted Espresso
Bold flavours, perfectly steamed milk and a banging caramel/honey richness.
There was a little pop of fruit at the end, but nothing too distracting.
Overall a flawless example of a cortado.
Beans: House Roasted Espresso
Crazy high-end bright notes of flowers, tropical fruits and citrus acidity. I swear to God this shot was sponsored by Happy Planet breakfast juices.
Absolutely delicious and I’d put money on this being the kind of espresso that would convert someone who doesn’t drink them, into a die-hard fan.
What is the Food like at Nemesis GNW?
The Nemesis GNW crew have taken the opportunity to completely rebuild their brunch menu for this location.
It’s varied, it’s high quality and it’s ridiculously fucking delicious.
Imagine a piece of salmon toast, only you’re not a lowly peasant, you’re actually PRINCE WILLIAM.
That’s what this is – salmon toast for posh people.
Nevertheless, I cast aside my tatty, Victoria-era street urchin clothing and tried to fit in by eating this masterpiece of a food item.
The potato base of this puppy is baked, then fried, because crispy is life.
On top of it was a symphony of complex flavours, led by salmon cured with Maldon salt, horseradish and dill with a punch of chamomile salt to end it all.
It was beyond delicious.
Duck Confit Sandwich
It’s not often you see duck on the menu at a coffee shop!
OK let’s start from the outside in:
The milk bun was soft and decadent, with a light sweetness.
Next up, the kimchi was zesty, bright and spicy.
The duck confit was impossibly rich, tender and luxurious.
Finally, the egg was fried to perfection, with the yolk nice and rich.
Every bite of the sandwich had a piece of the above in it, which was great because the flavours all worked so well with each other.
I didn’t want it to end.
The Dope Bakery
You’re probably already aware of this, but Nemesis became quite well known for their incredible baked goods selection.
They have a constantly rotating selection of croissants, cruffins, cookies and cream puffs.
I genuinely don’t know where to start on this one.
How about the ridiculously unique, exterior that is more or less a work of art?
Or maybe the ‘sails’ across the ceiling that channel the sound, but also act as smoke channels in case of a fire.
What about the lines in the concrete floor that line up with the lines in the counters and walls, to the millimetre?
Look, you just have to really go inside to witness just how ridiculously unique and special this venue is.
I’d argue it’s one of the most beautiful coffee shops on the planet.
Aside from the above, there are loads of seats, a huge outdoor patio and a nice bar area where you can watch the magic happen/annoy the baristas with your incessant questions (like I do, everywhere).
Nemesis Coffee has always been known for their exceptional customer service game, but GNW has switched it up a little.
Obviously, with COVID getting in the way, hugs and high fives are at a minimum. So instead, they’ve focused on providing a high-end restaurant-style service, mixed with the usual family friendliness you’re used to at their other locations.
All food and drinks are dropped off at your table, with their army of staff making sure your dirties are picked up almost instantly.
They’ve also become masters of what I like to call “eye friendliness”. With masks in place for the moment, their staff have become extremely expressive using only their eyes. It’s awesome to know they’re beaming with a smile, even if you can’t actually see it.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that their CFO, despite being only 4ft 2” tall, can drink as much as an angry Scottish sailor.
Not that it’s relevant, but I felt it should be immortalized on the internet.
Nemesis GNW is within walking distance to VCC Clark Skytrain station and there are plenty of buses that stop close by.
There are Mobi and Evo stations close by, plus you can easily walk from Main Street if you wanted to.
Paid street parking is cheap while underground parking is slightly more expensive. But there are four free spots available to Nemesis customers in the parkade.
The location is also directly across from where the new Great Northern Way–Emily Carr Skytrain station will be.
Three of them. Good size, always clean and banging hip hop being piped into them.
One day I’m going to take my coffee and a laptop in there and just chill.
I’m calling it now – if this place doesn’t win the Sprudge award for best coffee shop I’m kicking off.
This place is an absolute testament to hard work, determination and some really creative design work.
Every facet of this place is impeccable and I genuinely don’t know where the hell we’re supposed to go from here.
Add this to the very top of the list of places to visit in Vancouver.
Hell, add it to your world wide visit list.