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Greening caffeine consumption? October 6, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, environment, sustainability.
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Photo credit: Ianiv and Arieanna on Flickr

Recently, Arieanna wrote a post about implementing more ecologically-friendly measures in coffee shops. I actually was very happy that she touched on this topic, as I used to consume a lot of coffee (not anymore).

Although I had thought about some measures (e.g. using my refillable coffee mug, not accepting paper cups, not using those little bags of sugar), I hadn’t really paid all that much attention. But Arieanna’s post reminded me that it’s important to reflect on these issues. And one of the commenters on her blog pointed her out to Agro Cafe on Granville Island.

I haven’t had a chance to visit, but I might just drop by sometime soon, if for no other reason, because the commenter (Jeff) mentioned that Agro Cafe had already implemented lots of sustainability measures. I’m curious to see them, and I’ll write about them soon.

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Coffee shop review – Luna Cafe (Gastown) July 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in Blogathon 2008, coffee, friends, Gastown, random thoughts, working spaces.
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This is, by and large, the weirdest coffee shop I have been to in years. The owner/cashier was funny yet I was slightly scared by her. So, it turns out, they DO have wi-fi (which is important if you’re waiting in between meetings in Gastown, and since many of the tech companies are actually located in this district, it kinda helps to hang out around here).

I know, Jordan did kind of scold me for not having come to the Strutta offices earlier (right before our BarCamp Vancouver 2008 meeting) which I could have done directly after lunch with Tanya (thus enjoying free wifi without having to buy a tea at Luna Cafe), but honestly I didn’t remember their office address (ooops) – which is the reason why I needed to find wifi before the meeting, to find out where it was going to be held.

So, back to the coffee shop review. Luna Cafe is spacious, well kept, clean. It’s great for coffee and geeking out, but I find that it’s kind of complicated to be there if your laptop battery is not so good (as is my case – although I can’t complain – for all the problems and issues I’ve had with my poor, broken eMachines, the battery was still able to tide me over from 1.40 to 3 pm, when I went to meet Jordan, Megan, Boris, David and James and talk geek shop about BarCamp organizational issues.

Would I recommend Luna Cafe to other geeks? Sure, why not. It’s a good coffee shop, spacious and they have decent tea, although I find it slightly pricier than coffee shops in the Main Street area. But if you’re just looking for a coffee shop where you can hang out and tide you over to the next meeting, sure, why not. This is the place.

Petition: JJ Beans *should* have WiFi May 10, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, Main Street, Mount Pleasant, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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Everybody who knows me well will know that I am a fan of JJ Beans House of Coffee. It’s a local chain of coffee shops

JJ Bean offers some of Vancouver’s finest coffee, freshly roasted in small batches every day. We have five retail stores in the Vancouver area, and we supply wholesale coffee to over three-hundred cafes and fine-dining restaurants in the lower mainland.

Our passion is great coffee. Our goal is to share that passion with everyone we touch. Come visit us and discover just how great coffee can be.[JJ Beans]

They have a location very close to my apartment, so I *love* meeting my former students, colleagues and friends there. It provides a comfortable atmosphere where you can chat, discuss career options (for my former students) or just simply edit a paper. There is ONE thing you can’t do there, though: surf the internet (thus, you can’t use Twitter or MSN or GTalk or write a blog post).

While having coffee at Bean Around the World with Rastin and Teresa we were complaining about the fact that JJ Beans doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Teresa has commented about this on her blog, and we all agreed that we should start a petition to have JJ Beans reconsider and offer Wi-Fi.

WHY SHOULD JJ BEANS HAVE Wi-Fi?

  • Because we like to geek out to good coffee. And JJ Beans has awesome coffee.
  • Because it would attract a whole new crowd, including the students who love multi-tasking and the geeks.
  • Because it would make my life SO easy.
  • [Add your own reason]

Since I’m not on Facebook, I can’t start a petition on it. But I’m more than happy to talk to the managers about it. I’ve had some great conversations (one of the most recent, with Jonathon Narvey) while having a coffee at JJ Beans, so what could be better than being able to geek out there with blogo-friends?

Coffee shop review – Gene (Kingsway and Main) April 13, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, Main Street, Mount Pleasant.
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This new coffee shop serves up a nice coffee (within the same price as any other coffee shop, around $2.00 for a 12 oz regular coffee). Has wi-fi (secured, so you need to ask for the password) and it is spacious, even though it looks weird because it is located in the wedge that is formed at the corner of 7th Avenue, Kingsway and Main (yes, it’s pretty much across from The Foundation, the new Mount Pleasant Community Centre and the Venus Theatre. The coffee is fairly good. Yesterday (which was the day that I visited), it was a tad too hot indoors but I think they’ve fixed that now. It may be hard to work there on a sunny day because there’s an insane amount of natural light coming in. I got lots of glare from my laptop screen. But I’d recommend it, for sure.

The culture of working at coffee places March 24, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, Vancouver.
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If you live in Vancouver, own a laptop, are a consultant/writer/academic professional or have studied/are studying something, I can almost bet my whole yearly supply of chocolate that you’ve done some work at a coffee shop. This phenomenon is pervasive throughout the Vancouver area. I am working on a couple of abstracts for conferences and some commentary on a friend of mine’s writing, and this place is packed.

My friend LB2 (I have two LBs, both female and both beautiful and smart) is here with me working and there are lots of other people doing the same. I have just walked through the coffee shop and some people are studying for their exams, some are doing homework, some are editing their books or papers, and some (like me) are doing some work AND people-watching.

I think that one of the reasons why we do this is that we feel accompanied but at the same time, we’re all doing our thing. I love doing this with friends… going to a coffee shop and working. Each one of us is doing his/her own thing but at the same time, we have a chance to chat and make small talk.

Some people have asked me which coffee shops I think are the best for each thing. While I don’t have time to do detailed reviews of each coffee shop, I have to say that for night owls, I’d seriously recommend any of the Waves coffee shops. They’re open 24 hours, the wi-fi is fairly reliable, they’re spacious and well-lit and the coffee is fairly decent.

If you are looking for a comfy coffee shop to read a book or just enjoy a nice afternoon, I’d seriously recommend Our Town Coffee, Lugz, Higher Grounds. If you are working during the day, I’d suggest the Blenz chain as it has reliable wi-fi and it’s nice. If you want to edit that pesky paper, book, thesis or simply be off-line, JJ Bean is your choice. Their coffee is amazing and I don’t think they have Wi-Fi.

All of this being said, I am 100% sure you’ve done some work while at a coffee shop, so feel free to drop me a comment and give me your suggestions for good coffee shops to do work.

Coffee shop review – Our Town Cafe (Kingsway and Broadway) February 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, local business, Main Street.
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Well, while we are on the topic of coffee shops, I have to say that one of the cutest (and most relaxing ones) I’ve ever been at is Our Town Café. Located at the corner of Kingsway and Broadway, Our Town Café is the epitome of relaxation. I wouldn’t recommend you to come to OTC if you really like to have an ebullient atmosphere.

OTC is the ideal coffee shop to come and read a book, relax, take the day easy. The food is nice (they’ve got some organic items there too) and the coffee is good too (although I wouldn’t actually say it’s Artigiano’s coffee). The most important element: the relaxing atmosphere you get here. Best place to have a nice coffee or tea and read a book. Even when it’s raining.

Coffee shop review – Cafe Artigiano February 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, Downtown, local business, Vancouver.
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There are few things I love more than coffee. Real coffee. The stuff that makes you smile when you wake up in the morning to the smell of a dark, freshly brewed concoction. Unfortunately, my tummy has begun to be slightly sensitive (please replace that with VERY sensitive) to irritants, and therefore coffee is now more or less off grounds.

The problem with this is that my daily routine does involve coffee. Even if I work from home for about one or two hours before heading to the office, that’s the first thing I do: I wake up, barely conscious, stagger until I reach my coffee maker and turn it on. However, I’ve recently had several episodes of stomach ache that are associated with dairy consumption (cheese, of all things!) and caffeine consumption.

Therefore, what I did today (as an innovation) was to make a pot of English breakfast tea, and start working. The kick wasn’t enough, I got to tell you. So, when KP said that she wanted to meet for coffee downtown, I jumped at the possibility. Particularly since we haven’t seen each other (and I totally missed her birthday!) and so she suggested Café Artigiano.

Now, to the uninitiated, this could be just any other coffee shop. But no, don’t be fooled. This is Café Artigiano. The one and only. This is gourmet coffee, even the Americano is amazing. The atmosphere is extremely warm. And the staff… not only are they beautiful (physically speaking), they are so incredibly sweet. *swoons*

I have been to Café Artigiano many a time, but had never actually had the time to sit down and write a coffee shop review, so now that I’m waiting for KP to show up, it’s the perfect occasion.

As I write this review, I’m looking at the baristas (both male and female) and they keep smiling. How do they do that, particularly after a really long day at work? I don’t know, but those smiles are beautiful and I feel so welcome at this place, it’s going to be kind of hard to leave. Of course, the incentive to get out of here is that I’m heading down to CBC Studios to see a live performance of Delhi2Dublin. I’ll tell you all about it afterwards.

Small inconvenients of Café Artigiano:

  • If you’re a blogger or need a wireless connection, you are pretty much SOL. This place doesn’t provide wifi. But on the plus side, if you actually want to work on a paper or read stuff, you can do it without the added distraction of having an internet connection.
  • The people coming here (and working here) are pretty damn hot. That may be a bit of a distraction if you’re trying to concentrate on a project. I have a very, very short attention span and can easily be swayed away from an assignment with a beautiful smile [ that being said, I’ve also been blamed for charming people away from their work by using my eye-lash batting powers and my mega-watt smile… ooops :o) ]
  • Not enough power outlets to connect your laptop. So, make sure you got a nice battery before heading down here to do work. I managed to sweet-talk my neighbours into letting me connect to the power outlet and run my cord undernearth their legs, but it’s slightly embarrassing.
  • The atmosphere is quite animated, so if you’re trying to concentrate on something that requires attention, you may be SOL. I am wearing my headphones and listening to Miguel Migs on my iPod and still can hear my neighbour’s conversations.

Overall, I still would come to CA (Hornby and almost Robson, near the Vancouver Art Gallery). Just accompanied with a nice book though 😉

Coffe place review – Bean Around the World (Main and Broadway) January 23, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, local business, Main Street.
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Theoretically, this location will eventually become Bean Around the World. Right now, it is a coffee shop right beside where Monsoon used to be and in the location formerly known as the home of SoMa. The coffee is good, not too harsh on my tummy, and the barista is pretty nice.

I actually couldn’t use the wireless, although they do have it, but my wireless card didn’t seem to be talking with their router. The place is well illuminated, and quite spacious. It looks as though a few people have taken it up as their centre of operations. I still see many more people at Waves, or at Lugz. But as somebody said, there’s always space for everyone.

If I had woken up at a decent hour, I probably would have come here to work and spent the whole day looking at the beautiful mountains (this location has a gorgeous view of the snowed mountains). The night lighting is quite good, and if you need to stay late, you could very well stay here until 10pm. But that’s the drawback. This coffee shop only opens until 10pm (and I think only until 8pm on weekends).

I would still come back to work here. There’s more than enough space to work, and enough hotties that walk by to provide good eye candy. It’s a good place to do people watching too.

Coffee shop review – The End Cafe (Commercial Drive) January 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, Commercial Drive, East Vancouver.
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There is a gazillion reasons why you should mosey over to Commercial Drive. It’s a vibrant and diverse community that has managed to create a mosaic of exciting and fun events. If you want to be up-to-date on the comings and goings on The Drive, I’d recommend the blog “Commercial Drive – Live!“.

I’m writing this post as I sit at The End Cafe (corner of N Grandview Hwy and Commercial Drive, pretty much at 6th Avenue and Commercial). I have met friends of mine here on our way to dinner or a movie. However, this is the very first time I actually have spent any time at The End Cafe.

I have heard rave reviews of the place, particularly jazz nights on Sundays (7-9 pm). Admittedly, that kind of clashes with my evenings with J, but I am sure I can convince him to come and listen to jazz (he wasn’t very keen on acid jazz when we went to the Fairview pub, but hey it’s all about having an open mind, don’t you think?)

The coffee is pretty good, and I have to say that the layout is very conducive to doing everything: from doing work on your laptop (there are two side bars with plenty of jacks to connect to the electrical energy, and free wireless internet) to having a relaxed evening reading a book and having a coffee (comfy couches) to doing school homework (plenty of tables with enough seating to entertain a small army of school brats) to having a drink (they’re licensed to serve alcohol until 11.45pm).

I read on the Girlports website that there is an informal queer women group every second Wednesday at the End Cafe.

Another habitual haunt for the lesbian set, the End Café is especially helpful for travelers with their free wifi access. They’ve got a nice loungey feel and serve coffee, soups, fresh organic sandwiches, burgers, breakfast and desserts. Every other Wednesday there’s an informal lesbian meet’n’greet you may want to keep your eyes open for.[Girlports website]

I can’t praise enough the management of End Cafe for being this queer-positive. Of course, this is one of the most diverse and culturally-aware neighbourhoods in Vancouver!

Coffee shop review – Esquires Coffee November 19, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, Fairview Slopes, Vancouver.
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Located at the corner of 16th Avenue and Oak, Esquires is a cute coffee shop that also has wireless internet. I have had some good coffees here, particularly with close friends. There’s also a nice pastry/coffee/deli shop right across the street (Max’s), but I definitely enjoy Esquires as I can work on my laptop there.

Coffee shop review – Lugz (Main St and Broadway) October 3, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, local business, Main Street.
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I had been meaning to come have a coffee at Lugz, not only because Jark (the owner of Lugz) is also a blogosphere friend and I had been meaning to introduce myself “irl” (that’s how we say in real life – I just learned this acronym from my very good friend Nomade Moderne), but also because I live in this neighborhood so I feel that I should know all my local coffee shops. So, as I was walking home from work today I decided to stop by, say hi to Jark and have a coffee. Very good decision on my part.

First off, Lugz only serves ethical coffee (fair-trade). Second, they serve cinnamon rolls (from a local pastry shop that I pass every day on my way to work and I always forget the name — J used to stop there occasionally to buy me a cinnamon roll on his way to pick me up and I can’t recall the name for the life of me). Third, Lugz provides a very comfortable atmosphere to have a coffee and relax. Fourth, Lugz has a broad range of food items to satisfy your hunger. And fifth, free wireless internet.

You have no portable computer to use their free wireless? Not to worry. Lugz offers terminals for use. And the relaxed, open space concept really invites you to just grab a nice coffee or tea, sit down, relax, read the paper (or bring your laptop and do some work — which I can’t do at the moment since my laptop decided to stop functioning last week).

I think that at some point in my life, I did stop by Lugz but it must have been briefly and only to send an email, but now that I took the time to stop by and have a cinnamon roll and a coffee, I know that I will come back often. All in all, Lugz is a great coffee shop, and I’ll be swinging by often from now onwards.

Oh and for those of you who don’t know of Jark’s other passion (writing), he’s one of the main editors at Beyond Robson 🙂 — just so you know…

Coffee shop review – Bean Around the World Coffees September 15, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, local business, Main Street, Mount Pleasant.
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I am a big supporter of local business, and to be frank, I always had a soft sport for Bean Around the World. One great thing about this particular location on Main and 20th is that it’s really close to me and other colleagues, and I thus I can hold work meetings or just relax with a coffee.

Bean Around the World has wireless internet, and a large patio. I would say best place to do work around the Main area, but there are other coffee shops that are so cute. JJ Bean, The Grind, Cuppa Joe and Waves. And the coffee is really good!

Furthermore, BATW has a card similar to Starbuck’s with which you can pay your drinks. I quickly proceeded to buy one as I never carry cash with me. So, all around, fun to go to this BATW, I recommend this coffee shop!
Bean Around the World in Vancouver

Caffeine crazed – The tradition of working at coffee shops July 28, 2007

Posted by Raul in Blogathon, coffee, random thoughts.
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The phrase “working at a coffee shop” has often triggered a few strange comments from my friends. “Are you actually working as a barista?” is often one of them. The truth is no, I don’t work at a coffee shop, but I do work AT a coffee shop. Yeah, I know it sounds strange. What that statement means is that I often bring my laptop and some papers to work with and start my work. That’s what I mean by “working at a coffee shop”. And on that note, two things.

  • Caffeine is not working. I’m very sleepy.
  • Vancouver has LOTS of coffee shops with wireless that you can work at.

I found a really neat webpage that tracks WiFi in Vancouver (coffee shops particularly). Check it out.

Because nobody living with AIDS should live with hunger” (A Loving Spoonful), please consider donating.

Coffee shop review – Higher Grounds July 18, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, Kitsilano, local business.
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If you love hanging out and drinking coffee in Kitsilano, and eavesdropping on loud customers’ conversations does not bother you, you’ll love Higher Grounds.

The coffee is really good and I always have a fun time watching customers. Drawbacks – wireless is not officially theirs (you might catch some signals here and there) and not enough electrical energy plugs. So this is perhaps a good place for a nice read, work on something that doesn’t require much internet and/or just relax sipping a nice coffee. It still remains one of my favourite coffee shops.

Location I have been to: Broadway at Vine.

Coffee shop review – The Wicked Cafe June 27, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, Fairview Slopes, Granville Street, local business.
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Who wouldn’t dare to have coffee here with a slogan like this: “Coffee You’d Sell Your Soul For”. I kid you not. That’s the slogan of the Wicked Cafe. I mean, I am not ready to sell my soul as of yet so I figured I’d try it and see if it is all worth what they say it is. To be honest, it didn’t go well with me that they said they had just run out of regular coffee (I only buy the lavish mocha or capuccino’s when I really want to give myself a really nice treat, and tonight I am only doing work so no excuse, really).

So I settled for some Apple Amaretto tea. The second thing that didn’t go well was that since I had a loose-leaf tea, they gave me a small container to leave my bag. The only problem is that the container is so small that to leave your bag you need to really be a master maneuverer. And since the container is metal-based, if your bag is hot you’re bound to get burned.

Those two things out of the way, on to the really nice things about Wicked Cafe:

First, it’s off the beaten path. It is located on 7th and Hemlock, so even though this is South Granville – Fairview Slopes, it’s not really all that crowded. You do find lots of people as Hemlock is one of the major routes to get to downtown from the Granville and Broadway area, but the coffee shop itself is not located along a ‘common’ route.

Second, the cafe has wireless internet, and that’s a great advantage. The actual signal was quite powerful and I could work really well there. There are two small problems (for me) working there. One is that there aren’t lots of power outlets. The second one is that a lot of really interesting people walk in and out of the coffee shop. So I get easily distracted (as I love people-watching).

I would definitely come here to have a coffee and chat with friends of mine who live around the South Granville area. I probably wouldn’t sell my soul for this coffee but I really enjoyed it. I am quite puzzled about the fact that there’s an eatery right beside that I should really try at some point.

Coffee shop review – The Elysian Room May 26, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, Kitsilano, Vancouver.
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Since most of my friends are Kits-centric, I have had to re-adjust and come back to some old haunts. The Burrard stretch between Broadway and 4th Avenue has always been an area where me and my friends hang out. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have taken in a movie at 5th Avenue Cinemas.

The advantage of The Elysian Room is that it’s so close to 5th Avenue Cinemas. A few months ago, I met up at the here with L and M as they were going to watch a movie, and we had a very nice coffee. In my opinion, the coffee is very good, although the food is expensive for what it is.

Since I have been so strapped for time, it was nice to sit at a great coffee shop for an hour in between tasks. I have read some rave reviews and some nasty ones, but I’d really reccommend it. The baristas are nice people.

Coffee shop review – Cedar Cottage Coffee House April 4, 2007

Posted by Raul in coffee, East Vancouver, local business.
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I had considered the possibility of starting a new line of reviews (work-places, those little cafes where we can sit down, relax, have a cup of tea or coffee and do work on our laptops). While there is a website that summarizes all the coffee shops in town with wireless access (Vancouver WiFi Mug), the purpose of my reviews was to provide an idea of where one could work.

So the first one is a coffee shop that I fell in love recently when out with S for a cup of tea. Located at 3728 Clark Drive (corner of Clark Drive and Kingsway), the Cedar Cottage Coffee House is a small coffee shop that serves some of the best tea and munchies I have had in a few years. Fully equipped with wireless, reading materials (please don’t take the books or magazines!) and big windows, this little cafe is the definition of organic and friendly.

The staff is really nice and they will spoil you to no end. At least, S and I had a really good time when we were there for coffee. I haven’t really worked there for a long period of time so I can’t really assess that element, but it looks like a good place to work on the weekends (since I come into the office most weekdays).