Locals of Victoria, B.C., consider coffee culture a defining aspect of their city. And it’s true—as Victoria steadily establishes itself as a hub for some of the best roasters in the country, fantastic shops continue to emerge, keeping the bar high when it comes to your morning latte or pour-over. Here, five local spots excelling in ambiance, quality, and craft.
Since opening their doors in 2014, Hey Happy has earned a place in the caffeinated hearts of third-wave coffee appreciators. With its lime green walls, large windows, and pastry-filled display cases, the ambience inside is just as cheerful as its name would suggest. Hey Happy brews beans from Calgary-based roaster Phil & Sebastian, as well as Portland’s Heart (among other worthy products). Offering “single-cup service”, orders brewed using a Chemex are weighed, poured, and served with precision by staff who are skilled in producing a product that is full, robust, and satisfying. 122- 560 Johnson St.
From its humble beginnings as a coffee cart in Victoria’s inner harbour in 1993, Caffe Fantastico has grown synonymous with specialty coffee in Victoria. The roastery, which opened shop in 1998, is situated in the Quadra Village neighbourhood where it continues to produce such flagships as Causeway Fantastico, the rich and satisfying espresso blend that Ryan Taylor, who co-owns Caffe Fantastico with partner Kristy, first crafted back in his coffee cart days. Sustainable practice and direct trade are extremely important to the Taylors. “We invest a lot in relationships with farmers right from the start in order to maintain and grow relationships in the long-term” says Ryan, who has travelled through Central and South America, as well as Ethiopia, building relationships with vendors. Fantastico’s wide selection of blends can be tasted at any of their three locations: Caffe Fantastico, Tre Fantastico, and Fantastico Bar-Deli. Various locations, see here.
Shatterbox Coffee Bar
Having recently relocated from their original spot on Yates Street, Shatterbox now occupies a cozy space along Victoria’s eccentric Pandora Avenue, where they feature beans from Cobble Hill–based Drumroaster Coffee. Owners Kalen Harris and Karen Morrison are often found behind the bar themselves, filling the small shop with the buzz of conversation, and seemingly making a point to turn strangers into friends. Shatterbox excels at their traditional Italian style menu items, while additionally offering a number unique and original creations, such as Graham cracker lattes, Lumberjack lattes, and drinks crafted with house-made hemp milk. 916 Pandora Avenue.
Considered by many as Victoria’s best coffee shop, Discovery Coffee is proudly into its thirteenth year of operation. Here, find everything from pour-over, AeroPress, batch brew, and nitro cold brew, all of which owner Logan Gray and connoisseur/education manager Brittany Davies ensure are done exceptionally well. In fact, Discovery offers a “coffee education series” teaching everything from classes on “Cupping Protocol” to “Extraction and Refraction.” Should you seek to learn from the masters, these courses are open to the general public. The pair are notably creative, coming up with new approaches to coffee constantly. “This year we’ve been experimenting with Cascara,” says Gray, referring to coffee cherry tea, which is brewed using the skin and fruit of the coffee plant, as opposed to the seed. “We reduced it down, and made it into an Italian soda. 664 Discovery Street.
With two locations (Chinatown and Yates Street) and a dedication to locally roasted beans by Bows & Arrows, Habit Coffee is a must-visit when in Victoria. Particularly cozy is a nook in the Chinatown location from which one may gaze out of large windows towards Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest “street” in the country, or simply admire the large wood coffee bar and exposed brick walls that occupy the interior of the shop. This café takes sustainability seriously—both locations are carbon-neutral, and even combined they produce only half the emissions of a regular café. Talk about good habits. Various locations, see here.
For more great coffee shops across Canada, click here.
To discover more Canadian coffee roasters, click here.
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