Coffee is an important ritual in my day.
The first pot is made by my spouse, usually before I get up. The rich, dark fragrance drifts up the stairs. Still half-asleep, I pour my first cup and read the paper or check my email while I sip it and gradually fit myself into the day. Our coffee is bought in small quantities from one of the local roasters specializing in fair trade beans. We buy it ready ground since the coffee grinder stopped working.
The next coffee is bought on my way to work. I usually get coffee and a muffin or other breakfast-type pastry to go. I eat the muffin while I am driving. This is messy and explains why I get my car vacuumed out frequently.
Occasionally, if I have time, I sit and read the paper or a book. This cannot happen too frequently, as then it wouldn’t feel so luxurious.
The choice of coffee shop is an important one, as stopping at the wrong one can tilt the day in the wrong direction. Take Caffé Artigiano, on Hastings at Rosser. It is an appealing place, with Italianate decor, great coffee, and a fine selection of food items. But the server usually there when I stop is unfriendly. So it’s a gamble: shall I stop and get the dark blend of the day, the fruit and nut scone to eat now and the vegetarian breakfast wrap for lunch, but risk the indifferent service? $5.17 for coffee and scone; $7.65 for the wrap.
The neighbourhood Bean Around the World is always a good experience, though it can be lined up. They have a good selection of muffins, including the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Quickstart. 12 oz coffee and Quickstart muffin: $4.25.
Delaney’s is another reassuring place to stop, and it’s inexpensive. I go to the one in Lynn Valley on weekdays. Friendly service, the basic medium or dark roast coffee, the carrot cranberry walnut muffin (“Can I heat that for you?”). Only thing on the debit side is that I can’t park right outside, so if it’s raining I tend to drive past. 12 oz coffee and muffin: $3.89.
My newest coffee shop find came this morning. Moja Coffee is in a most obscure location: at the corner of Rupert and Harbour in North Vancouver. I don’t know if it will survive there long enough to be widely discovered, but I hope so. Excellent organic coffee, and a small but fine selection of food items. I got the lemon poppyseed muffin (the perfect blend of sweet and tart, and the perfect blend of textures: melt-in-your-mouth muffin combined with the crunch of poppy seeds and the slight resistance of the lightly glazed crust). I picked up the ham and cheese croissant for lunch. The baked items are by Thomas Haas, so you can’t go wrong. Great value at $3.83 for the coffee and muffin; $3.65 for the croissant.
After I arrive at work, I get a coffee from the student-run place near my office or pour myself one from the office pot. The taste of this coffee is less important. Maybe it’s like wine, where the third glass can be of lower quality because by then your tastebuds are much easier to please. Anyway, the reason for this third serving of coffee is because I like to carry a mug around with me, like a security blanket, when I walk around the office. The act of actually drinking this coffee is less important than just having it close by; in fact, I often throw most of it out.
The best coffee time of all is on Saturday mornings. After my early morning walk with friends, we stop at the Delaney’s on Denman or the Bean Around the World on 10th and Sasamat. That coffee and muffin is a peak experience, partly because it’s a reward after exercise and partly because it’s shared with friends.