What do you think of when you think of Vancouver?
For most Sprudge readers, wherever they might be in the world, the first thing that comes to mind is a teeming Canadian metropolis, a land of creative opportunity, disappointing hockey, and ever-rising rents. But there is another Vancouver: the city of Vancouver, Washington, located directly across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. (It may or may not be a suburb, depending who you're asking.)
There's a growth and cultural development phase underway right now in Vancouver, Washington, which owes in part to the exponential growth of the city of Portland over the last decade. Families and companies drawn to the region are looking to Vancouver for more room to grow, and this includes coffee shops.
Today Vancouver has that small-town feel, with big-city options for specialty coffee. A common thread seen throughout these coffee shops in this city is the feeling of community. A lot of people in the city have lived here for decades, and there are also quite a few newcomers into town with the recent population increase.
We tend to view coffee shops first and foremost as destinations for quality coffee, but here in “The ‘Couv,” many coffee bars extend their services beyond the normal call of duty. Whether it’s providing a collaborative space for the community, or educating customers about coffee, the following coffee shops have many dimensions to them that allows them to be staples within the wider Vancouver scene, all while serving a fine cup of coffee.
We'll start with Relevant Coffee, an established local Vancouver favorite. Relevant's original location was a quaint 425-square-foot shop with a dedicated daily clientele, but in early 2019 the brand had the opportunity to move into a much larger new location, offering some needed elbow room. Their near-2,000-square-foot location is a sun-lit, welcoming space, home to both a full-service coffee and roasting facility, anchored by Relevant's Probat L-12 roaster. Along with their new cafe floor plan, you can find a “plant island,” which is where their foliage is housed. The island was originally supposed to be a ball pit, but that plan was tossed.
Whether it’s their sourcing or cupping sessions—or a roaster housed behind transparent glass windows—Relevant wants to provide a shared experience within their space. This serves as an open invitation for customers to ask about coffee, and everything involved. To reinforce their mission of serving the community, Relevant has made an effort to partner with local companies and their products outside of the coffee shop. This means you can find Relevant around Vancouver in the form of coffee beers, cocktails, desserts, and even chili.
Presso Coffee Co.
Building off of the success of their original location in Portland, Presso Coffee Kitchen opened a second shop in Vancouver in early 2019, offering up seasonal toasts, a modern approach to interior design, and specialty lattes. Along with social-media-ready product and branding, Presso delivers on the quality front, roasting their own beans and serving coffee at a high level in two states.
The location in Vancouver has an expanded menu, which allows for more creativity. Here you'll find drinks like the Mint Mocha with a toasted marshmallow, or the Salted Caramel Latte with a chocolate-dipped, pretzel-crusted rim. Whether it’s the bigger location in Washington, or the more intimate setting in Portland, the same ambiance and service will be found in both places.
In what appears to be a city-wide trend, Presso utilizes their space as a touchpoint for those in the neighborhood. From hosting community nights, tech meetings, and photoshoots, Presso opens their space to create a camaraderie for people of all ages that extends beyond state lines.
Compass Coffee Roasting
Here's another brand with locations in two cities. Compass Coffee is a staple in the Vancouver coffee community, proudly roasting in Washington and offering this coffee at a smart cafe across the border in Portland.
The interior of the shop is beautiful, all-exposed brick and suspended light bulbs. There’s a long table in the middle of the shop, which encourages communication with other guests. Conversely, there are a number of single seats along the window to enjoy the view outside. Regardless of where you sit, Compass Coffee provides a comfortable atmosphere.
Founded on the idea of balance, Compass makes it a point to rotate in different origins of coffee into the shop, so consumers can be exposed to different regions. Whether it’s Burundi Kazoza, or Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe, Compass’ top priority is to tell the story of these coffees.
Kafiex Roasters Coffee Lab
Located next to Esther Shore Park, Kafiex Roasters occupies a popular corner in downtown Vancouver. Prior to opening their shop, owners Matthew and Seidy Selivanow were thoughtful about the layout of their coffee lab. They wanted to cover all ends of the coffee world for customers through visuals and education, all while providing a quality cup of coffee.
Behind the bar is a mural of the world’s coffee belt, which highlights the regions coffees are sourced from. Placed next to the bar is a bilingual coffee library, which holds publications about brewing methods, tasting notes, and more. Their slow bar showcases a multitude of coffee origins and alternative brewing methods, including their siphons. Lastly, their Diedrich IR-12 roaster is visible to the public, so patrons can see the roasting process.
The farm-to-cup journey for the Selivanows is a meaningful one. Kafiex prides itself on working with female coffee farmers around the world in efforts to empowering women. To further push their mission to educate about coffee, the team hosts multicultural events and coffee tastings that are open to the general public. When visiting, check out Kafiex’s Three Amigos espresso blend.
Gold Cup Coffee House
When customers visit Gold Cup Coffee House on the eastside of Vancouver, they tend to ask: “Where is the gold cup?” Co-Owner Oksana Kozlov responds to the question with a smile and says: “The gold is in the cup!” The inspiration for the shop’s name was derived from a quote by Sheik-Abd-Al-Kadir:
“Coffee is the common man’s gold, it brings to every person the feeling of nobility and luxury.”
This is a brand-new coffee shop for the Vancouver scene, which started life as a coffee cart. Gold Cup Coffee House's interior is equal parts lavish and understated. With a full menu to choose from, the current house-favorite drink is the vanilla latte with Oatly oat milk. If time permits, the Kozlovs recommend getting a seasonal pour-over. The Ethiopia Guji from the aforementioned Kafiex Roasters is their go-to for their specialty drinks.
Gold Cup opted to go with Kafiex for their coffee—bean delivery is a breeze, as the locations are right down the street from each other. Coffee here combines well with pastries from local favorite Marsee Baking; the almond croissant is highly-recommended.
Giovanni Fillari is Brand Marketing Specialist at Nike and the publisher of @coffeefeedpdx. He is the honorable mention Sprudgie Award recipient for Social Media in 2018. Read more Giovanni Fillari for Sprudge.
Top image via Adobe Stock/David Gn