Coffee & Tea 4

Bump & Grind vs Joe's Cafe (Vancouver, Espresso, Pictures)

fmed | Apr 4, 200810:24 AM

I wanted to do mini-reviews of these two places as a study in contrasts. I don't frequent either of these establishments because I have my favourites (Prado and JJBean) which sling near perfect espressos.

Bump & Grind and Joe's Cafe are almost like caricatures of new school and old school espresso joints. Bump & Grind will provide you that "attitude" and Joe's will provide you that "atmosphere". Both places are at the North end of Commercial Drive.

Joe's Cafe for the longest time (a couple of decades ago now....prior to the new-wave espresso scene) was the most famous of all Vancouver espresso joints. This was during the time when you pretty much had to trek out to Commercial Dr ("Little Italy") to get a real espresso. Joe's Cafe was made "famous" (locally, anyway) by the Wyckham Porteous play "Joe's Cafe". I have lived in this area for a couple of decades now and I have seen how the coffee scene has evolved over time. Despite the scores of coffee houses that have sprung up on Commercial Drive over the last decade, people still frequent Joe's to find some sort of solace. Joe's attracts a diverse clientele - old bohemians, new bohemians, WiFi-heads, etc.

The elderly barista pulls somewhat bitter espressos out of their La Cimbali using Lavazza beans. The milk foam (for capuccino) is over-drawn, airy, with large-ish bubbles. The atmosphere is definitely old school - pool tables, TVs hanging on the corners (to catch the latest hockey or soccer games), fluorescent lighting.

Bump & Grind. Where do I start? I have never experienced "that attitude" like at this place (which is why I never go). The barista is a real caricature - tattoos, piercings, arty, punk rock, etc. There is a DJ booth behind the counter, there is art from local artists on the walls, the interior design is "basement" and the furniture is re-vintaged. They pull espressos from their Synesso using 49th Parallel beans. It is actually quite good. The espresso tastes smooth and almost chocolatey. The foam is velvety smooth with tiny bubbles.

Fully buzzed...I head off to work.

Want to stay up to date with this post? Sign Up Now ›
Log In or Sign Up to comment

Recommended From CH