172 Powell St., Downtown Eastside
Pastry chef Eleanor C. Waterfall cut her teeth in several of Vancouver’s best kitchens before going solo with Cadeaux. The display cases are loaded with cakes covered in fairy-tale-looking icing, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, and croissants. Skip the straight chocolate and go for a mocha-pecan cookie or Earl Grey-infused London fog cake.
Earnest Ice Cream
1829 Quebec St., Mount Pleasant
There’s nothing whimsical or cute about Earnest Ice Cream; instead, the space is clean and modern, with a white tile counter and polished stone floors. While the usual suspects (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) are certainly available, Earnest is where you go to try something unusual, like elderflower-or spruce-flavored ice cream. Each flavor—made in small batches—is creamy perfection, and pints come packaged in returnable (and reusable) glass jars as part of the company’s commitment to zero waste.
East Van Roasters
319 Carrall St., Gastown
Coffee with a conscience is one way to describe East Van Roasters, who provide employment and training to local women who have fallen on tough times. The teeny space is straight out of Stockholm with a clean aesthetic of all-white walls interspersed with exposed red-brick, and a monochrome, subway-style tile floor. Small but mighty, East Van roasts all their beans in-house for the perfect cup every time and makes their own chocolate, too.
Le Marché St. George
4393 St. George St., Riley Park
Le Marché St. George is that personality-filled café and general store we all wish we had in our neighborhood. Compact, quaint, and bursting with charm, the store is packed with cheeses, chocolate, preserves, and fresh produce. The café portion cranks out delicious European-style coffee with traditional French pastries—like buttery pain au raisins and decadent chocolate and almond croissants—on the side. The space itself echoes the traditional general stores of times gone by with creaky wooden plank floors and shelves filled with preserves and dry goods. It's a one-stop-shop for premium ingredients, or simply your morning cup.
1689 Johnston St., Fairview
For a city that's generally fixated on health and the outdoors, Vancouverites also love the occasional indulgence, and Lee’s Donuts does not disappoint. A mainstay of the public market on Granville Island for over forty years, the donuts are fried fresh on-site daily—with no trans fats—using the finest ingredients. Expect the perfect combo of sweet and salty with Lee’s signature maple-bacon donut or go fruity with tart raspberry jam nestled in the lightest dough. For those who can’t commit, order a bag-full of donut holes in assorted flavors for a full sampling.
213 E. Georgia St., Downtown
With several locations dotted throughout Vancouver, Matchstick seeks to elevate the often rushed habit of grabbing a coffee and racing out the door (we’re all guilty) to an enjoyable ritual—a moment to slow down and enjoy the perfect cup. Aside from their smooth, rich coffee, there are delicious toast options (ricotta and honey, walnut-butter and jam), sandwiches (slow-cooked pork, ratatouille) and healthy muesli. Matchstick bakes all their own bread in-house daily (the scent alone will draw you in) and each loaf is the product of a few day's work due to time-consuming—but better tasting—ancient baking and leavening methods.
1863 Ontario St., Mount Pleasant
Open through the spring only, founder—and former architect—Alicia started brewing kombucha as a relaxing hobby and healthy beer alternative. In 2015, Alicia’s pastime moved onto the bricks-and-mortar incarnation that is Oddity Kombucha. The flavors are all derived from local ingredients, and range from classic ginger to jasmine and elderberry, all served out of taps into quaint glass bottles. The space itself is pared-back and serene, just a few stools at the counter and no additional decoration.
325 Cambie St., Downtown
Patrons can pick from two different rooms at Revolver—one with a long community table, ideal for a solo cup or for a caffeine-saturated catch-up with friends, while the alternative with smaller tables is more appropriate for one-on-ones. Each blend, sourced from world-class roasters in North America, is blind taste-tested weekly for quality control. Interior-wise, Revolver manages to feel urban, yet cozy, with wooden seats that appear to be suspended from the ceiling and exposed brick walls covered in maps.
1088 Homer St., Downtown
Small Victory encourages patrons to elevate their morning coffee ritual into something celebratory: Serving breakfast items and coffee in a serene space, their scones, jam, and clotted cream—in unusual flavors like pear and lemon, or strawberry balsamic—make it hard to just grab and go. Take a seat, order a rich cup of coffee, and linger over the paper with a decadent breakfast croissant—a smooth start to any day, which is the idea.
The Birds & The Beets
55 Powell St., Downtown Eastside
Aside from the coffee, a hyper-healthy menu of sprouted grain salads, pickles, bircher muesli, and house-made kombucha makes this all-wood café more than just a morning drop-in. There's ample seating and free wifi—a godsend for anyone a mission to catch up on some work—plus, to sweeten the deal, front-of-house is devoted to a tight fresh-flower edit, loaves of just-baked bread, and jars of some of the best granola in town.
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