“Aubade is an introduction to the potential of coffee,” explains owner Eldric Stuart of Aubade Coffee, a simple but ambitious venture located in Vancouver’s Chinatown district. As a part of The Space Lab collective, a shared facility that also includes a vintage store and barbershop, Stuart is attempting to represent the highest quality that coffee can attain. Unencumbered by many of the common issues facing larger cafes, Stuart is able to focus on what is most important to him: quality and innovation, while remaining approachable. “I want to de-emphasize volume as a measure of success,” said Stuart. “I’d rather be less busy if that means I can maintain quality and experience.”
The design of the shop is inspired by the kitchens Stuart experienced during his travels in Paris and Berlin. The concept of Aubade itself is derived from the romance around home brewing. “There is an intimacy to it,” described Stuart. While many coffee drinkers are intimidated by the equipment and knowledge required to properly brew coffee, Stuart wants to embrace and promote the notion of preparing coffee at home. Whether you are a full-time barista, or a casual consumer looking to learn more, the experience at Aubade is instructional, conversational, and personal.
Stuart’s corner of the multi-use space is comparatively tranquil, with a purposefully minimalistic menu offering only AeroPress coffee, tea, or a choice between white or black espresso, serving roasters like Talor & Jorgen, Proud Mary, and 32 Lakes on a VFA 2 group espresso machine with Versalab grinder.
Although simple on the surface, this shop is anything but. Stuart is both a technician and tactician. His approach to coffee is extremely technical and detailed, while his approach to business is strategic. The product-focused service provides a high-quality beverage with strong importance placed on how it ended up in front of his customers. He offers comprehensive backgrounds on everything that is served, down to the specifics of the farmers themselves.
In an effort to inspire and promote others to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, Stuart’s newest initiative is a takeover concept where others—including newcomers to the coffee industry—can use his space for a day to get a feel for what running a coffee shop is really like. Using their own coffee and equipment, the first takeover was a resounding success and Stuart is planning to set up more in the future.
Stuart is also using Aubade as a venue for his enduring drive to innovate and improve, specifically within the realm of equipment. His particular fondness for AeroPress stems back to 2012 when, while visiting Melbourne, he just so happened to take a first date to the World AeroPress Championship there. The seed of an idea was planted as he watched, inspired by the competitors’ creativity and amazed by the potential of the device.
Once back on Canadian soil, the seed blossomed into a discovery when Stuart himself trained for a Canadian AeroPress Championship in 2015. He began experimenting with alternative filters in an attempt to gain a competitive edge and settled on a paper with a specific pore size that he felt best controlled the filtering of coffee’s most bitter compounds.
These filters, which he’s dubbed the Aesir Filters, are now manufactured and sold through Aubade, providing what Stuart describes as a cleaner, more crisp flavor while maintaining body, as the filters do not absorb as much oil as others. This May, Aesir filters provided the x-factor in the Canadian Brewers Cup win, too: Javaid Shah of Calgary roasters Phil & Sebastian took home the win at the national competition using Stuart’s Aesir filter to brew with an AeroPress.
With plans to roll out his paper to other brew methods and continuing to evolve his unique shop, it’s easy to get excited at the promise of Stuart’s parting words to me: “Aubade,” he says, “is just my introduction.”
Peter de Vooght is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Read more Peter de Vooght on Sprudge.