A couple of weeks ago, I took a weekend trip to Victoria BC so that I could once again sample Victoria’s growing coffee scene. This is the second trip that I have taken to Victoria over the last 12 months.
The last time I visited, I was there for a couple days before heading up to Vancouver and at that time I was able to visit a number of Victorian coffee shops including the following; Serious Coffee, Sounds Like Coffee, Dolce Vita Coffee Art, Murchies Tea and Coffee, and White Heather Tea Room – for afternoon tea. I also checked out Salt Spring Coffee while I was on the way to Victoria.
I can tell you that with all that caffeine in my bloodstream, I was super alert the whole time I was there.. and as hard as it might be to believe, I may have actually drunk a tad too much espresso for the short time that I was there. So this time around I needed a slightly different approach. I was only going to be there from Saturday late in the morning, leaving the next day in the afternoon meaning I had a really small window of opportunity in which to sample as much as I could without getting over caffeinated. So the game plan was instead of ordering 12 oz lattes all the time, I would in some cases just order the 8 oz lattes… still maintaining the double espresso shots though. At the very least, it would not be as filling so I should be able to sample more places.
The other limitation I was facing was that since I wasn’t driving, all the places I was to try out would have to be within reasonable walking distance. I didn’t think this would be a problem at all since Victoria, relative to its size, actually does have a lot of coffee shops, all within easy walking distance from the downtown harbor area.
I didn’t have a list of actual coffee shops that I wanted to visit, but there were a couple that I had in mind including Mirage Coffee, Union Pacific and Grindstone Cafe. Someone had also suggested that I should check out Caffe Artigiano, which I had done the first time I ever visited Vancouver and Macchiato. I was not able to sample anything at Grindstone, nor Union Pacific because they were closed, but I was able to visit; Macchiato, Mirage Coffee, Caffe Artigiano, Habit Coffee and also The Empress Hotel, for Afternoon tea.
So what do I think about Victoria’s coffee scene? I think in general, they are doing relatively great. I think the scene is growing little by little and there is certainly excellent coffee to be had. I would say that my top three coffee shops were Habit Coffee, Caffe Artigiano and Mirage Coffee, and this includes comparing with my previous trip to Victoria.
The one thing that I think is still lacking is the late night coffee scene, hence the title of this blog “… Not Quite Up After Dark” which is a play on words regarding Union Pacific, a coffee house that closes by five, and reopens as a tasting restaurant (modeled after Salt) called ‘Up After Dark’. This was my main takeaway about coffee in Victoria is that most of the coffee shops seem to close relatively early, anywhere between 5:00 and 6:00 PM… 7:00 is certainly pushing it. I actually complained about this to the folks of Habit Coffee and they told me what they were actually thinking of staying open much later. I think that would certainly help grow the coffee culture in Victoria.
My other big takeaway is that Victoria is certainly coming on its own… plenty of room to grow, but if you certainly love great espresso, you have more than a couple of excellent options in Victoria… just make sure you don’t get there too late otherwise you may find your favorite coffee shop closed for the evening. 😉
Over the next week or so I will be blogging about each of these five places I visited so come on back…