NOTE: Dog and Squirrel are unfortunately now closed.
I was born in England, a nation of colourful pub names. The town I grew up in had “The Froth and Elbow”, “The Ewe and Lamb”, “The Saracens Head” and “The Old Sugar Loaf”, as well as countless others. So imagine my surprise when I saw that a coffee shop called “The Dog and Squirrel” was opening in Yaletown! The Dog and Squirrel, however, is not an old British pub with beer-soaked carpets, but a well designed and impeccably clean coffee shop serving up excellent espresso drinks, incredible pour over coffee and some charming and engaging conversation from the owners.
An instant Yaletown classic.
Pour Over – $4 With an ever-rotating selection of beans, getting a pour over at The Dog and Squirrel is always going to be an interesting experience. The choice has always been nicely varied – for example one bean may be fruity and light and another chocolatey and bold. Neil, the barista, part owner and fellow Brit, is a master of the pour over. His drinks are well balanced, his pour technique impressively perfect (even when engaging in full conversation) and the presentation of the cups are great, albeit a little unruly when sliding about the plate they’re served on!
Cappuccino – $4 All their espresso drinks are served from an impeccably clean VBM Domobar Junior espresso machine, that they chose because “the barista is in full control; just one lever to control the group head. No pre sets, no buttons just dedication and control to what we do”. The cappuccino is another drink that’s poured with ease as I chat to Neil. The balance of espresso to impossibly smooth milk is phenomenal and the latte art tulip is “not the best he’s ever done”, despite it being about 500% better than even my best attempt at home. The espresso bean selection changes regularly too, so there’s always an opportunity to try a new and interesting shot. He’s mastered this machine and I’m jealous as hell!
Salted Caramel Brownie – $3.75 The Dog and Squirrel have their small food selection supplied by local bakeries. The salted caramel brownie was a decadent and intense burst of chocolate with a smooth caramel finish. The only real complaint I have about it was that it was a little too small for my greedy needs and I found that it was gone in about 3 bites.
The main issue I find with The Dog and Squirrel is the location. In so many ways it’s incredible – it’s right on the main drag of Yaletown, so it’s about as premium of a location as you can get… however, it’s not on the street front. Instead it’s tucked away in a small mall that I honestly didn’t even know existed. Given that it’s only about 20 steps from the street it should be considered a great location, but I worry that the ADHD shoppers of Yaletown will miss it. Either way, once you know where it is, you can’t deny that overall it’s a fantastic location.
The Dog and Squirrel, whilst tiny, is a really well designed venue. Similar to Moving Coffee (and somewhat like Aubade in it’s early days) it’s a compact space with a small coffee bar, and a selection of distractions around you to look at. In this case some motherland memorabilia (have I told you I’m a Brit?), postcards, stationary, coffee gear and greetings cards. Everything is presented in a fun and stylish manner that stays in theme with the rest of the venue.
On all of my visits I’ve only ever met one person – Neil, the co owner. As I mentioned earlier, he’s a Brit so lets face it, I’d probably like him even if he turned out to be more of a moron than me, but thankfully he’s actually a thoroughly friendly and entertaining chap (despite the fact that he’s a dirty Brummie from Central England rather than the south, which is clearly the best part of the country)! His coffee knowledge pours out of him if you start him on the subject, but I can tell that he’s focused enough to make sure it doesn’t bore you (for the record, Neil if you’re reading this, keep it coming mate, you can’t bore me). He’s got a wealth of experience, having put in his time at Moja Coffee Roasters. My advice, if he serves you, is to explain your coffee tastes to him and have him recommend a roast to suit to you.
I live very close to Yaletown so this place was always going to be exciting to me, but given that The Dog and Squirrel are putting out, what I would argue to be the best coffee in Yaletown, I think this takes them to something better than I could have ever hoped for. Just such a shame that it’s run by someone from Birmingham!
Prologue: I don’t really hate Birmingham I promise, but I can’t miss the opportunity to tease a fellow Red Coat! Prologue 2: The Dog and Squirrel are closing at the end of August and are intending to move to The Cedar Cottage area. When there’s more info available I’ll let you all know.
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