Trigger warning – Possible snob alert.

Eldric at Aubade serves Vancouver’s best coffee hands down. To begin with, Aubade shares space with an antiques store as well as a barber shop in the back. Think of the cafe with the most eclectic tastes you have ever been in, and multiply that by 10. The menu itself is short and simple. Aeropresses and Espressos, the latter served black and white.

Sydnie had the Colombian Daniel Sanchez on the aeropress, while I went for the latte made with Gesha roasted by 32lakes. Surprisingly, the aeropress was more expensive than the Gesha!

Eldric’s attention to detail and thought going into each drink is unparalleled. Every aeropress drink of his is a controlled mix of 3 consecutive infusions of a batch of the freshly ground coffee. The first and second infusions contain most of the acids and the caffeine while the third provides the body of the drink. The optimization of the infusions is based on the taste his palate perceives, but he’s looking to quantify the acidity/caffeine content (On the lookout for engineers and scientists to do collaborative work with him).

After my first sip of the latte, I was a convert to the church of vegan milk. I was expecting a regular latte, but instead got one made with steamed milk of rice, coconut and buckwheat. It was sweet, rich and full while still letting the flavor notes from the espresso come through. Best drink ever.

Idli and Dosa adventures in Vancouver


For the uninitiated, Idli and Dosa are as essential to a south Indian breakfast, as eggs and crispy bacon are to an English one. They’re made out of a fermented batter of ground rice and black lentils. It’s amazing how the same batter makes Idlis – steamed and fluffy as well as crepe-like Dosas – pan fried and crisp.

After being brought up on a breakfast diet of Idlis and Dosas, I’ve  surprisingly never craved a good south Indian breakfast the five years I spent in Bombay. The much maligned Poha being a reasonable Maharastrian stand-in. Let it be know that it takes a separation of 12,238km to get me to crave a good south indian breakfast.

How do you satisfy these cravings in Vancouver?

Vancouver is not the bay area. You throw a stone in a random direction in the latter, and it’ll fall on a Telugu speaking software professional. Result – A branch of Sarvana Bhavan that flourishes, while the Vancouver branch recently folded. There’s alternatives though. Friends of mine swear by house of dosas, and I agree. At the corner of Kingsway and Fraser, there’s a little piece of the southern Indian subcontinent soul.

I’m a grad student, and don’t have the money or the time to make trips as frequently as I’d like to. There began my search for the easiest way to make dosas right at home. MTR sells instant dosa mixes, which should be your last resort. Little birdy whispered of this place called Thurga at 43rd and Fraser that was the only South Indian store in the lower mainland. It was actually Srilankan, but it didn’t disappoint. I could get plastic tubs of dosa batter! It took a while to get convex dosas, but it was totally worth it. At 6$ for a 750ml of dosa batter, it’s a steal. And crack an egg on top of dosa batter on a frying pan and it’s a well balanced breakfast! [Random segue to 4AM Egg Dosas at Maddu mess before a good day’s sleep in Bombay]

Now that I had access to dosa batter, could I go a step lower and make my own batter? Well, so I went to Thurga and asked the store owner the recipe for Idli/Dosa batter and the ingredients I needed to buy. The lady behind the counter seemed really happy to help, and the batter’s now fermenting. I hope the temperature in the house is conducive for yeast growth. I’ll post updates on how the batter’s doing.

Grad student’s coffee on campus


Carry your own mug around. Constant vigilance, especially if you’re around Koerner’s or the nest. Lots of free coffee around.

The cheapest coffee on campus is definitely sprouts – It’s still in the old sub. Simply put a loonie in the bowl at the coffee station and fill your mug up, or any of the quaint china in the racks under the station. You almost always will be the only grad student around. It’s a nice place to work, especially if you do NOT want internet – a cold draught makes you want to pee, but you tell yourself you only can after you finish typing this paragraph.

Edit: The cheapest coffee on campus is actually sprouts’ sister cafe – seedlings. Situated at the north end of the campus in the same building as Koerner’s Pub, it offers coffee for just 75 cents.

Make your own coffee – The coffee making experience can be cathartic, bordering on masochistic if you use a burr grinder for the beans (the physical effort itself will wake you up). Getting the setup in place can be a considerable investment (A Hario burr grinder costs 42 and an aeropress 38). You could also get a blade grinder for much cheaper at the risk of your coffee having a burnt taste.

Pseudocoffee pls luv mi – Tim Hortons French Vanilla. I’m surprised it has a non-zero caffeine content (60mg) and provides those good ol’ calories (250).

Nicest coffee – Boulevard coffee roasting company – Started by a PhD brethren of UBC, they roast their beans in house (immaterial). Their coffee’s got a high caffeine content (important) without the burnt acidic flavors thrown in.

Frappuccino – When you want a frappucino (almost always) but don’t have the money (because Vancouver rental prices), here’s a tip (hat tip to Squakfox) – Pinch of Xanthan gum which prevents the components from separating.

1 cup coffee

3/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of Xanthan gum (Thx Ferran Adria, many appreciate)