Between the time I originally thought of this post, the time I wrote out the notes for it, and then finished it off and prepared to post it, a new coffee house opened up in The Strand. Oddly enough, it's in the exact location that the Bob Soto's Diving "Water Emporium" retail store used to be in, tucked away in the back corner behind the stairs.
I kept meaning to try it out, and then finally I think on a Saturday a few weeks ago I mosey'd in to give it a try. The first thing I noticed is that they're grinding and brewing Intelligentsia coffee, as opposed to Illy over at Cafe Del Sol and Berried Treasure. I'd never heard of Intelligentsia coffee, and the guy who runs the place (it's called Paperman's, and I'm not sure if that's his last name, or because he gets a bunch of international dailies in, or what) was telling me it's a small outfit based out of Chicago.
This morning, I was reading the RSS feed for Dethroner.com (one of the new additions to the blogroll over there on the right) and this week's topic over there is, you guessed it, coffee. The article I was reading this morning had an image in the RSS feed of a cup of coffee with a big swirly decorated in the foam on top that looked EXACTLY like the designs that the girls (two sisters who went to Alpha, the high school just down the road from Burnaby North where I graduated from and another girl) put on top of the coffees there. Turns out that the article was ABOUT Intelligentsia in Chicago. I wonder if it was part of their training or something? Anyway, enough about the hotties that work there.
The first thing I noticed about the coffee was that it wasn't bitter or burnt tasting. Some mornings at the "old" coffee place it actually tasted sour. Whether that was the milk, or what, it was pretty nasty, but it only happened a couple times. The coffee tasted like, well, coffee. Strong, but not bitter, full-tasting (I think foodies call it mouthfeel) but not overpowering. Then the milk. I don't know what they're doing differently there, but their milk is thick. Not just hot with some bubbles on top, but proper foamy, thick, creamy, mmmm. Finally they top it off with the swirlies. Here's how stable a foam they whip up: When I put my Canucks travel mug in my Grippit drink holder and then drive to work, by the time I get to my desk and take the lid off my cup, the foam is still there and some of the decoration still exists as well! Before these guys opened, when I got to work with a coffee, the only thing in there when I got to my desk was coffee...
The next weekend Eleni and I met there for lunch. I had a pressed Cuban Sandwich, and she had the carrot & ginger soup. Yummo. I've also sampled their cookies and a slice of banana bread one other time. They seem to have WiFi in there, but considering how wired my life is, I haven't felt the need to take my laptop there and spend even MORE time online. They have an LCD TV up in one corner that's usually tuned to BBC World, and then there's their namesake, the papers. In addition to the local rags, they also have the USA Today, NY Times and the WSJ as well as some magazines here or there. Add to that the great people-watching opportunities and you have a recipe for killing a few hours relaxing on a Saturday morning.
To be honest, I haven't been back to the other coffee house that I used to frequent since having a coffee here at Paperman's. I hope I don't have any awkward moments, like Seinfeld had with his barber when he got his hair cut somewhere else. :)