Close-up image of a cup of coffee with swirly milk froth on top.

Need Coffee? Visit BC’s Coziest Cafés

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It might still be cold outside, but it’s warm and toasty inside BC’s most welcoming cafés. So bring a page-turner or your laptop or a good friend, grab a steaming mug of joe, and settle into a cushy spot at these favourite haunts. Some are stylish and now; others are woodsy and unpretentious. But all rank tops for their inviting vibe and primo-quality coffee that’s really much too good to tote away in a to-go cup. Sit, savour, and enjoy….

Behind the scenes | Canoe Coffee Roasters

Groovy: Canoe Coffee Roasters, Kelowna

Sunny Kelowna is the gateway to BC’s wine country, an arid bench of vineyards sloping down to the Okanagan Valley’s giant lake, flanked by orchards and small farms. Top pursuits are golf, cycle-touring, water sports, skiing, biking, year-round wine tasting, vintner feasts, and foodie events.

Support this spunky family business and sip top-notch java at Bright Jenny’s named after the owner’s wife. What started as a portable coffee shop has evolved into a trendy hub frequented by devoted followers. This place is comfy and hip with an appealing retro lounge-y warehouse setting showcasing the small-batch, state-of-the-art roasting process. Personal service is friendly and attentive.

To Order: 

The espresso = a must. All coffee beans are ethically sourced.

Swings at the bar | Buddha-Full

Holistic: Buddha-Full, North Vancouver

North Van is the North Shore playground, birthplace of free riding (mountain biking). Outdoorsy residents ride singletrack, of course, ski, hike, and cycle to work, socialize at farmers markets, and catch up with friends at the local craft brew taproom.

Kyla Rawlins and Geremie Voigt introduced their clean living lifestyle to fancifying Lower Lonsdale, a.k.a. Lolo, with their nook of a café back in 2010, and now Buddha-Full is a vegan hot spot for all things organic, raw, gluten-free, and local. At the up-and-coming Northwoods Village location, take a seat on a polished log stool by the wall of windows in the airy, serene space and tuck in to your Bohemian Soul bowl. The plant-based menu covers everything from cold-pressed juices, green smoothies, and kombucha to wraps, bowls, and specialty toast.

To Order:

From a swing at the juice bar, an immune-boosting Healer latte or Hot Shot—that’s ginger, turmeric, lemon, apple, black pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne… kapow!

Woodsy-Kitch: Owl Street Café, Hope

A former gold mining then logging town and railroad stop along the Fraser River Valley, postcard-pretty Hope is a town of 6,000 tucked into the steep Cascade Mountains, a launch pad for river rafting, hiking, and mountain biking adventures.

Ease into the slow lane if you detour to comfy Owl Street Café, a family-run operation just off the Crowsnest Highway. You’ll need time to peruse the impressively kitschy collection of all things owl—from chainsaw log-art to ceramic to shells, some 300 in all. In a peeled log A-frame housed with a B&B upstairs, Owl Street is all natural woods and windows with burly polished tree-trunk tables. Think: Homey with a capital H. Loosen your belt for the “Dutch baby” flapjacks and breakfast classics from the chalkboard menu. In summer, sit out front surrounded by lush forest and mountains.

To Order:

The cappuccino (Kelowna’s Cherry Hill Coffee) and for lunch, the Montreal smoked meat sandwich.

Minimalist Vibe: Habit Coffee, Victoria

Flower-filled Victoria is the southern Vancouver Island harbour city that draws visitors for its charming British flair and colonial architecture, teahouses, and waterside cycles; students to the leafy university campus; and power players to BC’s political capital. Foodie tours and micro brew tastings are just as popular as whale watching, sport fishing, and museum outings.

Habit Coffee’s Chinatown location near famed Fan Tan Alley is more cool than cozy, but its joe reigns, courtesy of locally roasted Bows x Arrows. Here, art adorns the exposed-brick walls and cheery staff serve killer brews with a focus on sustainability. (Habit is carbon neutral.) Sit by the floor-to-ceiling windows with a cappuccino and watch the Yates Street bustle or grab a magazine and tuck into a fresh pastry. Tip: check out the events board, chock-a-block with goings-on in the neighbourhood.

To Order:

A no-fuss cup of coffee or a decadent dark-chocolate Primo Mocha. Nibble on a vegan jam cookie.

Oso Negro Coffee in Nelson | Oso Negro Coffee

Conversational: Oso Negro Coffee, Nelson

In the Kootenay Rockies of southeastern BC, artsy Nelson prides itself on immaculately restored historic homes, a sizeable collection of galleries, and a thriving café culture. This is the jumping off spot for backcountry exploration in nearby parks, whitewater rafting, off-road biking, skiing, and horseback riding.

Oso Negro Coffee is the longtime stand-by: visitors swear that on Saturday mornings, the entire town is here. Housed in a folksy three-story bungalow, Oso has a cheery garden patio, good service, strong coffee roasted daily, and an impressive selection of fresh-baked goods. The place feels somewhat 70s, with lots of paintings, skylights, and hanging plants, plus tons of natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows. Hand-hewn wood-and-wrought-iron tables and chairs with the signature bear paw print round out the picture. The vibe feels bustling, conversational, and upbeat.

To Order:

Breakfast parfait with organic granola and preserves with your favourite style of espresso or drip coffee. Take home some beans. This oft-acclaimed spot is perfect for breakfast or lunch.

Fix Café & Bakery in the Nita Lake Lodge | Jennifer Hallett_jeylaloves

Relaxed Chic: Fix Café & Bakery, Whistler/Creekside

Casual, fun-loving, and youthful describe Whistler, North America’s biggest ski resort town known for its rowdy nightlife, hardcore mountain biking, record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, vast amount of vertical, and hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Fix Café & Bakery in Nita Lake Lodge channels alpine chalet, fitting Whistler like a… ski glove. Set in the rustic-chic Nita Lake Lodge in Creekside just south of Whistler Village, it’s the place to curl up, relax, and recharge. Settle into a sofa seat around the central fireplace. Tony log candelabras complement the dark wood and stone accents of this handsome space. Both locals and visitors rave about the focaccia breads and pastries, and Fair Trade organic coffee. Expect welcoming staff, plus lots of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

To Order:

A house-baked almond croissant with an oat-milk latte.

Eclectic: The Art We Are Café, Kamloops

Cowboy country. That’s Kamloops—in BC’s sun-baked Interior, a landscape of wide-open golden grasslands, river-cut gorges, and sandstone canyons. Visitors come to angle for the big one in 100 lakes, trek through the ponderosa pines, golf, play on the water, ski at Sun Peaks, and ride the range at a dude ranch.

The Art We Are in downtown always buzzes. Locals love the funky meeting place: part “tea joint,” part gallery. Kamloops native Christina Grono gets that people want to gather at a place where everyone’s welcome, and she’s created a space as much about community as supporting local artists. The purple and brick walls of the warehouse space are jammed with artwork. Expect lots of couches and a patio filled with dozing dogs, groups of chatty teens, construction workers taking 10, and grannys reading in recliners. Linger late for open-mic live music; the place stays open until 9 p.m.

To Order:

A chai latte with homespun cornbread and from-scratch soup.

Originally published in January, 2019.

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