We may have wildly different opinions on cilantro (a guacamole must have), horseradish (gross!) and what dishes are the best comfort food, but most of us agree on coffee. I’m not sure how I’ve gone this long without dedicating this space to coffee, it was the start of my personal journey into discovering where food comes from, I’ve worked for two local roasters, Level Ground Trading and Salt Spring Coffee, and start almost every day with a great cup of coffee. So here’s the scoop on where to get the best coffee around town.
Here in Victoria, coffee roasters have been the leaders in the coffee culture scene, with more roasters than most small cities I’ve been to. We have rivalled Portland and Seattle, and were ahead of Vancouver (who is catching up the past few years) for more than a decade in numbers of small roasters. Some of the pioneers are Sam Jones at 2% Jazz Coffee, the family crew at Discovery Coffee, Ryan & Kristy Taylor of Caffe Fantastico, and Geir and Patricia Oglend now with Drumroaster Coffee in Cobble Hill. The Oglends have a long history in coffee on Vancouver Island, including starting Serious Coffee. Now their kids are involved in roasting and training, and their coffees can be found around Greater Victoria at Prima Strada, Ruth & Dean, Wild Coffee, Pilgrim Coffee in Colwood, and many more.
We have so many great coffees coming into Victoria and being roasted in different styles and prepared in every brew method. For espresso, head straight to the sources at the roasteries, or Hey Happy Coffee, on Lower Johnson. At Hey Happy, Rob Kettner who had his coffee start at Fernwood Coffee, serves coffees roasted by some of the best roasters in Canada and the US. This gorgeous Scandinavian style cafe is a tiny slice of downtown where you can step inside and feel transported. The serve pour over coffee and espresso based drinks, with seasonal features like coconut milk iced lattes and turmeric vanilla cashew lattes. Sign up for a brewing class, or sneak some quiet time on the covered back patio benches overlooking Market Square.
Discovery Coffee opened two locations recently, one a move a few doors down to Blanshard and Broughton, another inside the new Whole Foods at Uptown. The downtown location at the roastery on Discovery Street has a new bar at the front window, watch for more updates soon. Hide + Seek in Oak Bay serves Caffe Fantastico, sells Timbertrain Roasters from Vancouver, and a few other roasters that change up regularly. They carry Empire Doughnuts, and have a great orange loaf. Sunday they make waffles. A small bright space with a great magazine selection and family friendly vibe.
Caffe Fantastico has three locations, all totally different, some with wine, beer, and cider, different food offerings at different spots, and great coffee at all of them. Check their website for all the details. Bows X Arrows, Habit Coffee, Shatterbox Coffee, the Parsonage Cafe, Fol Epi, Township Coffee and Marina Dockside Eatery at Oak Bay Marina all either roast or serve great coffees, some with great views (Marina), all with friendly service. Do a coffee crawl, grab a coffee to go and take a stroll in the last of the winter sunshine, and welcome spring with a new favourite cafe patio.