We are so happy with Vancouver Barista review that we had to repost. We are so happy that finally we have a better choice than the infamous 49th Parallel cafe.
“I’ll never stop.”
-The Rolling Stones (from “Start Me Up”)
Meaning it just goes to show, how remarkable it is that this intelligent East Van roaster has grown up in such a short period. And finally, found its groove in Vancouver’s coffee scene.
In this still-young coffee town, they’ve firmly dug in their heels. So much so, that it’s not surprising anymore when yet another café opens – and announces they’re offering Pallet Coffee.
But they are more than your average roaster. Their bragging rights? We think it’s their reputable hands-on barista training that has become unparalleled in Vancouver.
Think about the last time you went to a café serving their Pallet Coffee. Chances are good you had a properly made drink. It’s no coincidence, they are helping mold a new generation of well-trained baristas that are asserting some surprising confidence.
On Stop 121 of our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee, Pallet Coffee has become a place of well rounded standards. We come here and know what we can expect: freshly made food, strong barista skills and a stylish room.
In fact, if you happen to be a chain addict looking to break the habit and try a local independent, we suggest Pallet Coffee. A fun feature of each of their three locations is that they’re all slightly different in personality.
Take their flagship café and roastery on Semlin Drive: it’s eclectic and cozy with a tiny outdoor deck and second floor seating area. Kinda like hanging out in an adult tree house. The Kingsway location: ultra hip with a lounge-like seating and a dedicated barista counter.
And this location? The most modern and spacious member of the family. As we walk up to West Broadway and Maple St, surprised to look up at tall glass windows wrapping a very long and pretty space.
Outside, it’s welcoming and lush with lime green chairs, leafy trees. In a nod to the ubiquitous Kits dog lover, there’s a little pole to tie your leash next to a water bowl.
We step inside. Right away, we notice they’ve repeated a bit of their signature design of wood slats (“pallets”) and dangling light bulbs. But overall, we like how it’s a very clean look that is unquestionably the most different from their previous cafes.
To the left, upholstered benches, simple coffee tables made from wood blocks, two seat tables. There’s a display of brewing products (Chemex, V60, AeroPress) and Pallet branded tees: all locations conveniently have the same selection.
Head to the right. Slightly hidden, a long communal table, high bar stools with creative tables built in to the walls.
A young woman greets us from behind the counter, friendly. There’s four staff here, including a barista. We get a glimpse of the left side of the counter, which is a spot dedicated to baristas making pour overs.
Their beverage menu and coffee fresh sheet are on the counter. They serve drip, espresso, pour over (Hario V60) and cold brew. Mike orders a pour over ($3.80).
The staffer goes over the fresh sheet and helps him pick from two single origins: Papua New Guinea (sweet green grapes, peanuts, lime, smooth cocoa) or Costa Rica (peach, dried apricot, tropical nuts, juicy finish). Mike hasn’t tried the Papua New Guinea so that’s his choice.
I order a latte ($4.15). For espresso, they only list Benchmark (Pallet’s signature blend – sweet cherry, stone fruit, spices, dark cocoa). But the staffer disappears behind the counter then comes back with a bag of Top Shelf that they’re also rotating. It’s a new Colombian-Ethiopian blend (sweet lemonade, peanuts, cocoa) that I decide to try.
This Sunday morning, the selection of baked goods looks smaller than their Kingsway location. To be fair, this is early days since their opening, so maybe they’ll expand later on. There’s loaves, scones and brownies (including vegan and gluten free).
We know they serve fresh-to-order food at their other locations, so we ask if they do that here too. She brings out two menus. There’s a Breakfast/Lunch/Salad Menu ($4.5- $10).
And – how nice is this? – there’s a Build Your Own Breakfast Sandwich Menu ($8). Every sandwich gets tomatoes and egg. Then you get a choice of each of bread, sauce, cheese, greens, meat and add-ons.
So Mike orders the breakfast sandwich. Another staff person leans over, warning us they don’t have croissants right now. I have a Toasted Granola with yogurt and fruit compote ($6). It’s great that they serve breakfast all day.
They’ll bring the food to our table when ready. And they’re on their game: by the time we’ve paid, the barista is already sliding my finished latte across the counter.
The latte art is a neat swan design, which is a nice change from the usual hearts and rosettas. The milk is perfectly heated, frothed thick and sweet. The coffee flavour is on the darker side but smooth. It’s very good.
Mike heads for the communal table but I’m at the side counter to watch the pour over being made. I appreciate how Pallet Coffee is incorporating this dedicated counter space – a smart design element – into their latest cafes. It’s a thoughtful feature that shows their strengths: coffee passion and trained baristas.
The barista talks about Pallet for a few minutes and she attentively brews the coffee. She is laid back and friendly, which hits the mark with me. That’s what Kits is all about: that’s why this neighbourhood is always a fun place to go.
If you’re here, notice those high end coffee toys here. Check out the massive, built-in mod bar tap that dispenses hot water (into their Hario Buono kettle) at the right temperature for their pour over.
She pours the finished coffee into one of their hip, branded mugs. Like an inky tattoo, it’s a curlicue drawing of a coffee plant. You can find the same design on their tees.
Mike takes a sip and says it’s done well. He describes it as a good light and earthy coffee with some citrusy acidity.
Our food arrives. The sandwich tastes fresh, with not a bit of sogginess. It would have been nice to have the sandwich heated so the bread was warm, cheese melted.
Their toasted granola is delicious. The tangy yogurt: super dense and creamy, not watery. The crunchy granola is perfect with diverse textures and flavours. The blueberry compote is juicy and overall it has a handmade feel.
But did I mention their coolest design feature? As you enter, don’t miss that long copper coil that spirals from the ceiling, finishing with a flourish as a faucet. Find it at the self serve counter. This functional art that actually dispenses drinking water.
It actually reminds me of of an oversized telephone cord, where you might send a message in a trajectory out to the universe. And if I could, I’d pick up the phone.
I wouldn’t dial anywhere exotic, just make a call home. This is what I would say: Hello East Van, look how far you have come.
VANCOUVER BARISTA REVIEW
Name of coffee: Pallet Coffee Roasters’ Papua New Guinea Kunjin
Origin: Papua New Guinea
Location of roaster: Vancouver, B.C.
Brewing method: Hario V60 pour over
Roaster’s tasting notes: “Sweet green grapes, with peanuts, lime and smooth cocoa.”
Mike’s comments: “Earthy, fruity and light. A sweet finish.”
- Bright and light Kits-oriented design. Airy with lots of seating indoors and outside.
- Consistent with their other locations, you have a choice of Pallet coffees to try, including some new ones.
- A good selection of food that’s freshly made; you won’t go hungry here.
- Friendly and laid back service.
- No lows. Excited to see what’s coming next as they keep getting better.
Seating availability: 5/5
OVERALL RATING by VANCOUVER BARISTA: 4.69/5
FROM Author: Shirley & Mike Wong