Tag Archives: Coffee Shops

Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop

Written by Lori Thiessen

Ah, good ol’ Tim Horton’s. Timmy’s. T-Ho. No matter what name you call it, it’s a Canadian institution.

I was taking in a couple of Christmas concerts by two amazing homegrown choirs, Vancouver Cantata Singers and Musica Intima in downtown Vancouver on Saturday. (PS. The BC Govt has cut 81% of its funding to the arts. Support your local arts!)

I had some time to spend between the concerts and there was a Tim Horton’s nearby, as luck and capitalist empire building would have it.

Since it is the Christmas season and it’s traditional to be a little short on cash at this time of year, I decided that going to Timmy’s was the best option.

I wandered up to the counter, order a small black coffee and a low-fat cranberry muffin. The clerk asked me if I wanted milk or cream or sugar.  Apparently, you have to ask for cream or milk at the time of ordering.  Neither condiment is available anywhere else in the shop.

The coffee was fine. Not great but fine. The muffin was dry, but then that’s to be expected of a low-fat muffin.

The shop itself was fairly consumer industrial: plastic everything in colours that don’t quite suit my taste. But it was warm and dry plus there was food and drink at low prices.

I think that’s the critical point about Tim’s: coffee at low prices. Where else can you get a cup of coffee for less than $2 these days?

Q: Do you prefer Tim Horton’s or Starbucks? Why?

Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!

Village Coffee Lounge

Written by Lori Thiessen

A friend and I met for coffee the other week at a coffee shop neither one of us had been to before.

On Twelfth Street in New Westminster (a suburb of Vancouver), is the Village Coffee Lounge.

It is quite a small place but with a real homey atmosphere. There is an old upright piano resting comfortably in the back. Brass instruments adorn the walls. Live music concerts take place here from time to time. Phone to find out when the next event will be happening:  (604) 522-8567‎.

There is a table inlaid with a checkerboard for those who want to play checkers or chess. Most of the other furniture is a mish-mash of styles, ages and rickety-ness. Very charming.

My friend tried the hot chocolate and I tried the maple spice latte. Though my friend didn’t comment on her hot chocolate, I must say that the maple spice latte was wonderful.

It is a regular cappucino but made with maple syrup, nutmeg and other spices and topped with a dusting of brown sugar.

I also had a zucchini muffin which was moist and flavourful.  I’ve never seen a zucchini muffin anywhere else so it must be freshly made by either the owner or a local baker.

We spent about an hour there and I was heartened to notice that people kept popping in and out; a city workman, a senior gentleman, a young mother, a courier, among others chose this small, unassuming place to get their mid-morning pick-me-up.

You can find the Village Coffee Lounge at:

705 12th Street, New Westminster, BC V3M 4J7

(604) 522-8567‎
I’m planning on going back again soon. Perhaps I’ll see you there!
Until Next Time,
May your coffee always be freshly brewed!

A Yen For Coffee

Written by Lori Thiessen

When I think of Japan, I have a tourist’s romantic view. Visions of kimono-clad ladies, cherry trees in full-bloom, the beautiful and elaborate tea ceremony cloud the reality of modern Japanese life. Apparently, coffee drinking has become quite fashionable there. In fact, Japan is the 3rd largest importer of coffee, just behind the USA and Germany.

The Dutch brought coffee to Japan in the late 1800’s. The Japanese found it appropriate to drink coffee, considering it is a Western drink, when discussing Western topics. But these days, the Japanese prize coffee for itself and for the caffeine boost.

Coffee is available in many ways in Japan; through vending machines, and coffee shops called kissaten. The Japanese brew their coffee strong and they don’t generally offer milk for those who are faint of heart.

Starbucks began their conquest of Japan in 1996 and they set a new standard in coffee quality. More and more Japanese coffee drinkers are demanding higher quality in their coffee and they are willing to pay for it. A cup of coffee at a kissaten can cost as much as $8.00US.

But there are more coffee chains alive and well in Japan other than Starbucks. Doutor Coffee is one of the biggest coffee shop chains and it is Japanese owned. It serves coffee priced well below Starbucks and there is a shop at nearly every train station.  As for other chains there are Beck’s, Tully’s and Caffe Veloce all which are there to serve and encourage the Japanese taste for coffee.

But coffee is more than just a taste, it is a performance in some upscale cafe’s. Here is a video of the now popular syphon method which was derived from the old vacuum style of brewing coffee. Enjoy!

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Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!

Sharing a Cuppa with Those Who Need It

Written by Lori Thiessen

As Dickens’ writes in A Christmas Carol: “At this festive season of the year, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor . . . “.

On bitterly cold days, a cup of coffee just to wrap your fingers around is wonderful. Just think what a street person would think about having just a little bit of heat anywhere on his body.

So here are just a few ideas about sharing a little caffe culture with those who really need some help:

  • Donate generously to your local outreach program
  • Become involved in serving Christmas dinner through an outreach program
  • Approach your local caffeinated watering hole and see if they would be open to donating some of their black gold and goodies to an outreach program
  • Get some of your friends together, brew up some coffee and tea, make some rib sticking sandwiches and distribute them to people in need
  • When a street person approaches you for some money to get some food and drink, give them some

A friend of mine is organizing a blanket drive among our group and we will deliver them directly to those who need them.

It’s not a solution to this problem but it will provide some temporary relief to a few individuals which is better than doing nothing at all.

Please give the gift of warmth to those who desperately need it.

Thank you.

Support Caffe Culture’s Sister Blog!

Written by Lori Thiessen

Please check out Caffe Culture’s sister blog, Coffee Shop Office. If you take the survey there you will be entered into a draw to win a monthly prize of $25 to your favourite café and you will be entered into the draw for the grand prize, a java commuter gift pack of $150.

The Coffee Shop Office blog talks about the advantages, challenges and resources for java commuters, aka people who use coffee shops and cafes as alternative office space.

The start of these blogs is due to several conversations between Gregg Taylor, a well-respected Vancouver career coach and me. Gregg wanted a partner in crime, so to speak, to research the trend of using coffee shops as alternative office space. I thought this was a great project and as usual I ran on all sorts of tangents like history, cultural practices, little known bits of information about coffee, coffee houses and the people who frequent them.

So Gregg and I decided that all these great ideas needed two separate spaces to grow and thrive. Separate but connected.

Start your own connection today with Coffee Shop Office and help us out with our research on java commuters. Gregg and I would really like to hear your café experiences. Don’t be shy – tell your friends!

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!

A Cup O’Murder

Written by Lori Thiessen

While doing some research in the library, I came across a ‘keywords in title heading’ for ‘coffeehouse’. A list came up which included a murder mystery series written by Cleo Coyle. I had no idea that there was a fictional series like this. I haven’t read any of them yet but googling the main character’s name, Clare Cosi, I discovered she’s a barista in New York who happens to solve murders in her spare time. Sounds like it would make for fun reading.

Coffeehouses or coffee have often featured in literature since they became a prominent part of society. Alexander Pope, 18th century English poet, wrote in his famous Rape of the Lock that:

Coffee (which makes the politician wise,
And see thro’ all things with his half-shut eyes)
Sent up in vapours to the Baron’s brain,
New strategems, the radiant Lock to gain.

Charles Dickens mentions coffeehouses or coffee rooms in at least two of his many works, namely Nicholas Nickelby and Little Dorrit. I must admit that I’m not that familiar with Beat Poetry so I’ve no idea if Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac or others mentioned coffee or coffeehouses in their poetry but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they did. It was the place for them to discuss their counter-culture ideas. A sense of place, of belonging however slight, is incredibly important in writing as in life, in my opinion.

As I recall, pulp fiction the like of which Dashiell Hammett wrote, often has at least one scene in a coffee shop whose coffee was as black as the heart of the dame sitting across from the protagonist.

Q: What other books feature a coffee shop or café?

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!

The Coffeehouse and the Arts

Written by Lori Thiessen

Coffeehouses are a great place to mesh all sorts of activities. People use them to meet casually with others or to do work or to create.

The creative process can take on many different forms. You may want to visit a particular coffee house to write in your personal journal. There may be a local cafe whose vibe inspires you to draw or compose poetry.

As a way to draw people into a cafe, some owners display the artwork of a local painter, or have an open mike night for writers or singers/musicians or spoken word artists or comedians. Heck, the cafe owner may just want to support local artists.

This isn’t new for coffeehouses. Since the heyday of coffeehouses in 18th century England, coffeehouses have been hosting artistic events. Art and book auctions, writers meetings and recitals of new music all took place in coffeehouses around London.

Think about the beatniks, or beat poets of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. New ideas and new thoughts seem to percolate in the coffeehouse environment of that time. Maybe it was the caffeine.

These days, the coffeehouse is largely the birthing ground for new business but artistic endeavours are still very much alive in the coffeehouse of today.

Q: What artistic events do you see at your local coffeehouse? Do you do any creative/artistic work out of a coffeehouse?

Until next time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!