Aperture Coffee Bar

Cosy coffee bar on a bustling West Broadway. 

Nestled on a busy main road in Mount Pleasant, Aperture Coffee Bar manages to slow everything down. Exposed brick walls, higgledy-piggledy furniture and bookshelves more stacked than your local library, Aperture makes you feel right at home without actually being at home. Snuggle up on the sofa with your morning cuppa, get some work done at a high top or catch up with some friends on the big wooden tables.

Despite the plethora of roasters in the city, the guys at Aperture use Intelligentsia beans from Chicago and make a damn good cappuccino. After 4pm, it's Aperture Dessert Bar time which means you can eat all of the affogatos you want, in any flavour you want. With seven to choose from, including London fog, lemon, ginger, chai, mocha, matcha or classic espresso, you'll be coming back to try them all.

There is also a selection of breakfast and lunchtime sandwiches as well as sweet treats made by Olivia Wu (founder of Cannele & Honeybun Bakery). Make sure you try one of the cookies - these things melt in your mouth.

Aperture has one of the best loyalty schemes we've ever heard of. At the back of the café, there is a dartboard. Once you've filled up your coffee stamp card (ten coffees), you get three shots to win a prize. A polaroid of you is then added to the 'Winner's Wall' and you are entered into a championship match.

Get cosy at Aperture Coffee Bar and you'll never want to leave. 

www.aperturecoffeebar.com

243 West Broadway, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Y 3L1

 

Little Wild

Grab your coffee and go (adventure more), thanks to Little Wild.

Whether you want some caffeine to get your day going, a break from all of the shopping or you can never get enough of the good stuff - Little Wild is here. Nestled along Banff Ave and open 6:30am - 6:30pm everyday, Little Wild is the number one stop for your grab-and-go coffee.

If the chalkboard sign with a million different ways to say coffee doesn't intrigue you inside then the minimalist design of the venue will. The interior boasts white walls, an array of green plants and splashes of copper in the form of a clock, baskets and hanging light fixtures. Little Wild is serious when it says 'grab-and-go' as there is no seating in the space except for a bench to perch on while you wait. While you wait, have a flick through the Canadian Rockies Annual for some mountain culture content packed with beautiful visuals, unique stories and a clean design. And if you really need to sit down, there are five wooden stools out the front - prime position to soak up some of that summer sun.

Coffee is made using Calgary-based Fratello beans which give your flat white, cappuccino or iced latte a balanced body full of chocolate and caramel flavours. A tasty cuppa tea is brewed using Little Wild's own fruity blend (in collaboration with the Banff Tea Company). And despite the to-go nature of Little Wild looking after the environment is still very important to these guys, which is why all cups and bags are fully compostable.

If you didn't know already - Little Wild is sister to the well-known and well-loved Wildflour Bakery. Head over to the bakery for fresh mountain bread, delicious pastries and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. See the colourful illustrated map on the back wall of Little Wild for directions on how to get there.

Grab your coffee and go (adventure more), thanks to Little Wild.

www.littlewildcoffee.ca

119 Banff Avenue, Banff, Alberta, Canada

 

Small Victories

With nearly everything made in-house, a creative menu, all-day brunch and a front seating area to watch the world go by, Small Victories will keep you coming back for more, again and again!

After cycling past Small Victories numerous times and always seeing a front garden packed with happy faces, it was time to give this café a whirl. Nestled along a sleepy Rathdowne Street, Small Victories is still able to entice the masses by an interesting brunch menu, local coffee and even some alcohol. The team behind Small Victories know food well and this is highlighted by the fact that they make nearly everything in-house - whether it is creating yoghurt, churning butter or curing locally sourced ethical produce. These guys know what they’re doing! Their passion for food is shown in the creative and seasonal dishes you have to choose from.

The Middle-Eastern inspired poached eggs are my personal favourite. A healthy helping of creamy baba ganoush is spread upon toasted sourdough with a sprinkling of crisp kale, fried onions, walnuts, mint, and pomegranate. The savoury to sweet ratio is faultless here. Fritters are also on top form with two to select from: corn and ricotta. The corn fritters come with 12 hour smoked pork shoulder, green tomato chutney and a fried egg, while the ricotta fritters are served with roast pumpkin, 18 month aged prosciutto, walnut puree and a poached egg.

The coffee used comes from local roasters, Wide Open Road – you’re probably starting to see a pattern here, don’t worry an article on the coffee roasting connoisseurs is coming soon.

This is no small victory here; Small Victories have got it made! 

www.smallvictoriescafe.com.au

617 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, Melbourne, VIC, 3054

 

Code Black Coffee

Roastery and cafe in the heart of Brunswick.

Coffee, coffee, coffee! Australia, more specifically Melbourne, is way ahead of the game here but I don’t think anybody believes it until they visit for themselves – I certainly didn’t! On every corner of every street (and every little nook and cranny in between), you can be sure to satisfy your caffeine addiction at least ten fold, and then some. But where are the best spots in the city to enjoy a cup you ask… Well, one of them is situated in the heart of Brunswick – Code Black Coffee. 

Code Black Coffee's roasting headquarters and its café lay right next to each other in a converted warehouse. On the right, you can find the guys hard at work crafting and roasting. On the left, you can enjoy the delicious coffee they have just created. In its simplicity, Code Black Coffee's process is: source top quality green beans from international farms and growers (from the likes of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Panama), roast them in-house, put them into bags, and sell the beans for retail at their counter or wholesale. Code Black goes above and beyond with its unique and personal take on wholesale supply. The guys allow buyers to come into the roastery to create their own customised blends - perfect for that personalised touch every café desires!

There is actually a lot more to the roasting process than this though, and I was lucky enough to have Allan show me around the roasting workshop/laboratory. Sample roasts of different beans from farms all over the world are regularly tested to see how the various coffees will work with different profiles. The next day cupping sessions are held to decide on a profile that creates the best taste. A roast profile is then established for the espresso roast on the 1kg roaster and then the same is carried out for the production roast on the 12kg/25kg roaster. Different beans from across the globe have varying characteristics so each develop in their own particular way once inside the drum, making it crucial for the roaster to know exactly what he is trying to create from the very beginning. The fact that every coffee is unique means that routine sampling and cupping sessions are imperative to the overall process. 

For Code Black's café, entry is through a huge sliding door that leads to an open warehouse with sharing and small tables circling the counter in the middle. Code Black has made sure that the venue retains a raw industrial feel inside with OSB boards, black steel and concrete throughout the space. Nearer the back of the café, seating allows for a full view of the roasters working on their coffee craftsmanship.

Besides rich and delicious espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, and anything else you want on ice, Code Black also serves up a variety of food options - little and big, savoury and sweet - to satisfy all. Coffee infused fried egg anyone?!

Get to Brunswick and fuel that caffeine addiction, pronto! 

www.codeblackcoffee.com.au

15-17 Weston Street, Brunswick, Melbourne, VIC, 3056

 

Lucy Lockett

A friend showed me this little treasure of a cafe when I first arrived in Melbourne, and it has quickly become my go-to for coffee and food in Brunswick. Just far away enough from the bustling activities of Lygon Street, invitingly tucked away on a quiet stretch of Barkly Street, lies Lucy Lockett. For the longest time, my friend had no idea what it was called for lack of signage. ‘Lucy Lockett’ - the clandestine name for the café can be found on the food/drink menu followed by the popular nursery rhyme - 'Lucy Lockett lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it; not a penny was there in it, only ribbon round it'. There's actually a cute reason behind the name too - the owner has a tendency, like Lucy Lockett, to always be losing his keys. Upon finding out this, I fell in love with the place even more. My little sister is named Lucy and when we were young my parents always called her 'Lucy Lockett' so this place makes me feel slightly at home even though I'm ten thousand five hundred miles away. 

Open everyday from 8am until 3pm, Lucy Lockett entices people in with its simple and minimalist design. And unlike most cafes in Melbourne, Lucy Lockett has the rarity that is a front patio - complete with wooden tables, yellow stools and umbrellas. Perfect for those sunny days when you just want to daydream and watch passers-by. The spacious interior boasts a relaxed atmosphere with a clean white finish, big wooden tables, and white stools aplenty. Vintage filament lightbulbs hang from the ceiling whilst the walls enjoy a splatter of green from plants growing out of wooden boxes.

Food here is incredible! I know, I know, Melbourne is full of amazing food left, right and centre but this cafe is on point! The acai berry smoothie bowl was probably the closest (healthy) thing to heaven I’ve ever eaten, and will be eating again and again and again… Atop of the ridiculously huge portion of delicious acai berry smoothie lies granola (packed with dried cranberries and almond flakes) with fresh strawberries and blueberries. This was actually my first time trying acai (have I been living under a rock you ask) and I will most definitely be adding it to my weekly grocery list. Those with a sweet tooth should grab the hearty gingerbread pancakes. Piled up four stacks high with strawberries, blueberries, rich maple butter, chunks of crunchy honeycomb and drizzled with maple syrup, I’m surprised this architecture of food didn’t topple over en route to delivery. For something more savoury, the chilli corn fritters are the way to go. Packed with a punch, these crispy deep-fried balls of flavour are accompanied by creamy avocado and huge dollops of sour cream and a spicy roast capsicum (red pepper to all the English folk) and tomato salsa.

Lucy Lockett uses Bailey coffee beans and always delivers a smooth and creamy cappuccino. For those super hot days, try the iced chai latte (which you get to strain yourself) or enjoy one of the fresh juices cold pressed in-house daily.

I'll be spending a lot of my time here whilst in Melbourne! 

www.lucylockett.com.au

140 Barkly Street, Melbourne, Brunswick, VIC, 3056

 

33 Acres Brewing Company

Nestled in-between the temperate Vancouver rainforest and the Pacific ocean, tucked away neatly in the up-and-coming Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, lies 33 Acres Brewing Company. Founded in 2013 by Josh Michnik, 33 Acres' vision started out of pure enjoyment for the binding elements of life. His idea is simple - with the natural elements of our surroundings and the spirit of community sharing (whether people are drinking, eating, chatting, working or reading) creativity is able to flourish and high quality products can be created. This vision can also be seen in the minimalistic, open and inviting layout of 33 Acres' beer tasting room. Crafted by Josh Michnik himself, the beer tasting room allows for simple and clean aesthetics. Wood, stone and white walls are balanced by the natural vibrance of neatly situated green plants for all to enjoy (my personal favourite is the cacti on the huge sharing table).

33 Acres Brewing Company's first product was beer. Nine beers and one cider to be exact. All of which are named after a certain element of life - 33 Acres of… life… ocean… sunshine… darkness… euphoria… nirvana… köbes,… welkin… sole (see photo below). I'm a big fan of Pale Ales so 33 Acres of Ocean was the choice for me. The golden-coloured brew managed to encapsulate everything I could want from a West Coast Pale Ale and more. It was hoppy (but not too hoppy) with a big floral flavour and notes of pine. Despite the high carbonation, this beer went down super smoothly and ended with a clean finish and a light caramel aftertaste. The beer tasting room allows everyone to enjoy these beautifully crafted craft beers. Most beers are available in glasses (12oz), growler fills (32oz, 64oz) or bottles (4 or 6 packs) - all of which are reasonably priced (see photo below). 

In 2015, 33 Acres expanded to the next best thing… coffee. And boy did they do it right! A smoothy and creamy latte (my go to at the moment) is served up perfectly on a logo-printed wooden block. The delicious coffee beans come from Heart Coffee Roasters (Portland, Oregon). HCR's focus is on uncompromising quality and this is seen in their use of green coffee, sourced from Central America, South America and Africa, which are then roasted to pure excellence. 

And it's not just liquids that 33 Acres flawlessly produce, they also have a simple yet delicious food menu divided into early, mid, and late options. Whether you're wanting a hearty brunch for the day ahead, a locally-made lunchtime sandwich or late night snacks consisting of cheese, meat and pretzels, 33 Acres has you covered. We were hiking the Grouse Grind that day, so brunch was in order. Served everyday until 2pm, the brunch menu is minimalist (toast, biscuits or granola) with an emphasis on quality over quantity. I opted for 'The Loaded', which consisted of creamy avocado, runny poached eggs, juicy honey ham and smoked cheddar served with a side of chilli jam atop of freshly baked sourdough bread from local artisan bread-enthusiasts, Nelson the Seagull. The portion was more than enough and presentation of the food was aesthetically aligned with the surrounding environment.

I'll definitely be heading back to 33 Acres Brewing Company when I'm next in Vancouver!

For more information, check out their website here.

 

Whitebark Cafe

Away from the hustle and bustle of Banff's downtown district, just a little further along Banff Ave (at the Banff Aspen Lodge to be precise) lies this awesome little coffee shop. This place is a hotspot for locals and visitors alike, and once you try their coffee you'll know why! Whitebark source their beans from Moja Coffee - a European-inspired, organic, fairtrade roasting company located in North Vancouver. With these beans, Whitebark make some of the smoothest cappuccinos and lattes known to Banff. There is also a wide selection of teas to choose from including Earl Grey, Aspen Breakfast, Goji Berry, Twisted Chamomile and Roobios Chai to name a few - all of which have been sourced locally from the Banff Tea Company. 

There is more than just coffee and tea at this place too. A favourite of mine is the house made granola with yoghurt and berry compote. The granola has the perfect balance of crunchy and chewy thanks to the delicious combination of oats, coconut, almonds, honey, raisins and cashews. When this is mixed together with the yoghurt and fresh raspberry compote, it's a little taste of heaven. What's even better is that you can get this yoghurt parfait to go, which is ideal if you're in a rush to get to the ski hill on a powder day! The savoury goods include a daily selection of frittata, quiche, soup and focaccia bread. Pesto and roasted vegetables focaccia was on offer today. Once toasted, this little slice of bliss is served up with some rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. The sweet treats are aplenty at Whitebark, some of which include loaded carrot muffins, peach blueberry muffins, coconut macaroons, oatmeal raisin coconut cookies, date squares, and a cheesecake. 

I love the minimalist design of Whitebark Cafe with its chalkboards and hanging lighting fixtures by the window. The row of chairs looking out onto Banff Ave offers a sweet view of Rundle mountain to daydream at. When the sun is shining, Whitebark's huge patio is thriving with other coffee lovers taking in the spectacular Banff mountains in every direction. 

For more information, check out their website here.

 

Bump N Grind Café

I don't see nothin' wrong with a little Bump N Grind…

Back in 2006, Cheryl & Kyle Wright founded Bump N Grind's first café on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver. Their second venture is located on Granville and 14th in the friendly, vibrant neighbourhood of South Granville. An independent, multi-roaster coffee shop, Bump N Grind have carefully chosen the best artisan coffee roasters from across Canada to share with other coffee lovers. Some of which include: Fernwood (Victoria), Transcend (Edmonton) and Phil & Sebastian (Calgary).

We were a little pushed for time, but man were we glad we stopped by. The cappuccino here was the smoothest, silkiest I've ever had, balanced with the perfect caffeine hit to leave me feeling pleasantly buzzed for the day's adventures. There are also specially handcrafted espresso drinks such as the Duetto (an espresso machiato with maple whiskey), Spiked Chai with Bourbon, and Almond Chocolate Gibraltar on offer.

Bump N Grind isn't just about the coffee, it also boasts an array of delicious baked goods including croissants, muffins, and cookies. Don't forget to try the Earl Grey Shortbread, the Matcha Green Tea Brownie and the famous Mookie (cookie & muffin)!

The interior of Bump N Grind is modern yet simplistic. The high ceilings are lined with criss-crossing wooden beams. Be enchanted by the lights that mesmerise you when you look into the mirror whilst waiting for your brew. The custom-made shelving which spells out 'Bump N Grind' is a homely touch to this great coffee shop. This homeliness is mirrored in the vibe here: chilled out and relaxed - the perfect place to get some work done or chill with friends.

For more information about this great little coffee shop, check out their website here.

Monmouth Coffee

If you want a quick breather from the bustle of Borough Market, head for a pick-me-up at Monmouth across the way. It's on the corner of Park Street and Stoney Street, but the aroma of freshly ground coffee will lure you in better than any directions we can give you. Monmouth serves what is honestly some of the best coffee we have ever tasted. We kept it simple with a cappuccino and savoured it in the window-seat overlooking the market. Once our friends arrived we relocated to the long wooden table that you share with other coffee-lovers. Slabs of bakery goods line the far wall, or if you're in the mood for something savoury, there's a basket of freshly baked bread.

Monmouth has a lovely, down-to-earth feel about it - from the ridiculously reasonable prices (we paid £2.50 for a huge cup) to the note trusting customers to pay for what they've eaten. Everything is organic, from the milk to the cane sugar laid out in flowerpots. You can even pick up their Costa Rican beans to fuel your addiction at home.

www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk

27 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9EU

 

Peyton & Byrne

After a stroll around Covent Garden, Peyton and Byrne (on Wellington Street) is the perfect place to re-energise yourself with some of the good stuff. We opted for the ever-delicious cappuccino made with 100% Arabica coffee beans sourced from Latin America. We paired our coffee with the aesthetically pleasing Lemon Meringue Pie - delicious crumbly pastry covered in scrumptious lemon custard and topped with a light and fluffy meringue.

This modern British bakery also boasts a wide range of artisan delights including: sourdough, white split, rye, 7-seed loaf bread and chelsea buns, preserves of lemon curd, blackcurrant jam and pear date and ale chutney, chocolate infused with marmalade, elderflower or English rose, and a wide selection of tea ranging from earl grey to fruit nectar. And that's not all - the huge variety of afternoon treats on offer from crunchy chocolate & hazelnut cookies to gooey West Country Apple cakes to crumbly Treacle tarts makes it difficult to choose just one to indulge in. 

www.peytonandbyrne.co.uk/our-bakery-products/index.html

44 Wellington St, London WC2E 7BD