My post from yesterday about Cafe Calabria inspired me to do a micro-crawl of my favorite espresso spots on Commercial Dr (my 'hood). In that post, John Manzo and I had a mini discussion about what constitutes a good cap.
Commercial Drive ("Little Italy") is the heart of Vancouver's coffee culture. It has been the home of espresso joints for decades - predating Starbucks and our current coffee culture a many many years. There are two basic types of espresso joints here - "old-school" and "new-school" (my descriptions). It's quite easy to determine which is which here -- The old-school joints are filled with retired Italian men arguing over soccer or their bocci game over at nearby Victoria Park. The new-school joints are filled with MacBook toting WiFi crowd. OK...so I over simplified...and to continue to oversimplify:
On Commercial Drive, the old-school is represented by Joe's Cafe, Cafe Roma, Giancarlos, Cafe Calabria, Abruzzo....and a number of others. The new school is represented by Prado, JJBean, Continental, Turks....etc. (Some Cafe's straddle the two schools...so it is a continuum).
The biggest difference for me is how the two schools treat their coffees. The new school coffee places treat their coffee with the deference that wine drinkers treat their grapes. The two schools' coffees taste very different to me.
OK End of blather. A mini review of my two favorite shops.
Rig: Custom white La Marzocco FB70;
Beans: from 49th Parallel. (Vince Picollo's roasting operation. Vince is one of the god-fathers of the coffee scene - former owner and proprietor of Cafe Artigiano. He still supplies Artigiano with roasted beans).
Excellent shots. Some of the best in town. Some real talent and passion for coffee at this bar.
Tidbit: A couple of years ago, in a post-SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) conference coffee crawl of Vancouver, Australian World Barista Champion Paul Bassett called Prado's shots the best in Vancouver (they were using Intelligentsia beans at the time). They went to JJBean, Artigiano, Elysian...so that's real competition there.
Amy York started this shop after working a number of years for JJ Bean as one of their top baristas.
Rig: La Marzzocco Linea
Beans: They roast their own.
JJBean is John Neates Jr (JJ == John Junior). He is the other god-father of coffee in town. JJBean roasts their own beans. They will even custom roast beans for you at their nearby Victoria Drive roaster.
Excellent shots. They bettered Amy (Prado) on the cappuccinos today...but not by much.
Tidbit: Neates Coffee has been in the coffee biz for almost 90 years - three generations of Neates. JJ Bean is the result of a merger between Torrefazione Coloiera (Italian Roaster) and JJ Beans.