10 Vancouver coffee venues to help get you through the grind

Coffee Beans


Now that the school year is underway, it’s high time to turn our minds to a staple of the law student’s diet – coffee. I brew mine at home with a setup involving a Porlex tall hand grinder with an inverted Aeropress and Able fine disk filter, but I appreciate that you might not be as hardcore. If you just want a delicious cup of liquid motivation without the accompanying labour of love, you may be curious to know what some of the better coffee offerings in Vancouver are, especially if you happen to be new to the city. (Also, if you fall into the latter category, I apologize in advance for the deep depression you may find yourself in during the upcoming months of endless rain combined with tedious case law.)

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but is merely intended to offer a glimpse into our city’s burgeoning coffee scene while also inspiring java-fuelled study sessions. Obligatory earthsaving mention: bring your own mugs! I know you have at least one law firm branded reusable mug somewhere!

  1. Matchstick Coffee (6239 East 15th Avenue). The darling of my neighbourhood, Matchstick serves up excellent coffee, delicious pastries, and freshly roasted beans for all your home brewed needs.
  2. Kafka’s Coffee and Tea (2525 Main Street). Pourover, Aeropress, syphon, espresso, or even tea, everyone will find something to their liking at Kafka’s. They also support local artists by exhibiting a revolving showcase of their work.
  3. Revolver (325 Cambie Street). The epitome of hipstery coffee snobbery, for the true connoisseur. Revolving list of carefully sourced coffee is meticulously brewed by the cup (read: slowly). Good luck finding a seat during peak hours.
  4. Rocanini (127 West 5th Avenue). This location is primarily a roastery, which means that it’s definitely not the cozy, sit-and-stay-awhile type of place. However, you can and should pop in for a cup of expertly brewed coffee, and they sometimes host free tastings (and maybe even impromptu glimpses at the roaster if you ask nicely). If you find Sharif here, he is super friendly and happy to chat about everything coffee-related. They also sell whole beans here alongside brewing equipment.
  5. 49th Parallel (various). A Vancouver original. The 4th Avenue location is the OG, but the Main Street location also houses Lucky’s Doughnuts, so choose wisely.
  6. Elysian Coffee (various). I haven’t been to the 5th Avenue location of Elysian, but have had many tasty cups of coffee at their Broadway location (which also has a delightful outdoor seating area).
  7. Caffe Cittadella (2310 Ash Street). A beautiful heritage house transformed into wonderful café with seating upstairs, downstairs, indoors and outdoors. They use 49th Parallel beans, and do a fairly masterful job of turning them into tasty caffeinated nectar. Their food also doesn’t look half-bad for coffee shop fare.
  8. JJ Bean (various). JJ serves consistently decent coffee and enormous cookies and muffins (with vegan options) for when you just need a rainy day pick-me-up. Beware the sometimes surly service, and some of their locations might still be wifi-less.
  9. Our Town (245 East Broadway). One of the many places where you might find a law student in the wild (as in, not in the confines of Allard Hall). Free wifi and great window seats if you can snag one. Our Town is open until decently late, and also offers libations for when you need to switch from coffee to wine. It appears that they are working on a new location at the intersection of Kingsway and Knight (they sure love their corner spaces).
  10. The Grind (4124 Main Street). So, the coffee here is entirely forgettable, but I include it on my list for a very important reason –  this is one of the rare few coffee shops in Vancouver open late nights/early mornings (the jury is still out on whether it’s truly 24 hours or not?), with free wifi and a decent number of power outlets. I’m too distractible to be able to study effectively at coffee shops (or even really study at all, to be honest), but if you’re the type to really hit the books hard with a mug of coffee and a pair of earplugs at 11:00pm, then you’re welcome.

Angela is, inter alia, a 2L, Ontario transplant, skeptic, coffee snob, and lover of good vegetarian food. You won’t find her on Facebook, but you can find her on Twitter at @ange7a or occasionally fleeing Allard Hall at top speeds if you ever want to talk about books, coffee, food, culture, the implications of technological innovation, the colonization of Mars, the meaning of life, or just about anything else. 

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