Caffé Artigiano, the Real Home of 49th Parallel

Caffé Artigiano Coffee

Image Title: 143/365 – Coffee break

Originally uploaded by, and used with permissions from kennymatic.

I discovered Caffé Artigiano a few years ago on one of my first trips to Vancouver BC. At that time I really didn’t know much about the coffee they served other than the fact that I thought the coffee was good. I also really liked the decor of the particular retail location I visited and the reason I went there was simply as matter of convenience due to its close proximity to the hotel where I was staying. Of course if the place even hinted mediocre coffee, I certainly would not have stepped in the door.

However, since that timer, though I have been to Vancouver again on numerous occasions, I haven’t been back. Not because I didn’t like the coffee or anything like that, but simply because I wanted to take the opportunity to try other coffee shops during my limited stays. So one cafe that I discovered, just a couple of blocks away from the Caffé Artigiano location that I frequented before, was Scuié, the Italian style cafe and espresso place.

The other interesting thing that I noticed on my subsequent visits was that Artigiano had multiple locations in the city and that put me off a little, especially since some of the locations did not look as great as the one that I first visited. But what was interesting I found that as I was doing my various write-ups of coffee shops in Vancouver and Victoria BC, more than once, readers suggested that I should go check-out Artigiano for some of the best coffee in Vancouver.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks back, this is when I took my second trip to Victoria BC. Due to the fact that to my plan of action was to visit coffee shops that I had not tried the last time, and that these would be coffee shops that were within walking distance from my hotel. I expected that I would include Murchies Tea & Coffee, even though I had been to the place the previous time, but then I found out that a couple of doors down, in the bottom location of the Bedford Regency Hotel on Government Street, there was a small Caffé Artigiano, the same kind of set up as Stumptown at the bottom of the Ace Hotel in Portland.

I decided that here was my opportunity to try it out again so that I can this time around do a write-up on the place. I am really glad I tried the coffee there for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is simply because the coffee I was served was actually pretty good. I really enjoyed my double short (8 oz) latte. The coffee was nice and strong with great flavor. It was interesting to that they actually do serve short (i.e. 8 oz) lattes because a lot of the coffee shops in Victoria only offer 12 and 16 oz cups. There is one other place in Victoria that I can tell you for sure, Habit Coffee also offers the option of an 8 oz cup as part of its standard coffee menu.

The second reason I am glad I went there is because I discovered that Artigiano serves 49th Parallel coffee beans. So what? Well, there is only one coffee shop in Seattle that uses 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters‘ beans and that is Trabant Coffee & Chai down on 2nd Avenue. I’ve been there a few times and the baristas there swear by 49th Parallel as the best coffee beans in the Pacific Northwest which is a pretty bold statement to make in Seattle. Especially considering that 49th Parallel is actually a Canadian based roasting company from Burnaby (Vancouver) BC. What is even more interesting is that the founders and owners of Artigiano are also the founders and owners of 49th Parallel.

This brings me to the third reason why I am glad I checked out Artigiano. This past weekend, the World Barista Championship 2009 competition just concluded in Atlanta, GA. The first place winner was Gwilym Davis of London England, but in an extremely close second finish was Sammy Piccolo the founder and owner of 49th Parallel and Artigiano. He holds the distinction of being the only barista to have come in the top 3 spot over the past four competitions, including this year’s competition. He is also considered to be one of, if not the best barista in Canada. So it was great to be able to check out a coffee shop owned by and enjoy the beans roasted by the second place finisher in the WBC 2009.

I think the fact that Piccolo is pretty much involved in his coffee business kind of shows in the attitudes of the baristas at the place. I thought the baristas, who took my order, made my drink and chatted about their coffee were great, and very gracious. They gave me a bit of info about the company and the beans, including the blend that they use for espresso, i.e. the Private Reserve Espresso blend. I think it would be interesting if Piccolo decided to open up a shop in Seattle, it would be interesting to see how they would do. I mean, if Kaladi Brothers can do it, then why not?

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