ok .. so if I don't finish my blog about our trip it will never happen! :) I think I left off having just had a great espresso at Elysian Room after chatting with Alistair.

Right as we are leaving Mark Price calls and invites us over. It's now about noon and we both need a break from touring cafes. We found our way over to Mark's and hang out with him and Beata for a while, catching up and Mark and I talk about industry news and stuff, and what our favorite games for the Wii are ... while the girls chat about where to go shopping.

Mark had forgotten he had a meeting with the Canadian Coffee & Tea Expo/Canadian Barista Competition folks in an hour or so, and invited me along. We met at Bump and Grind on Commercial, where I met the owner Josh and ordered ANOTHER macchiato ... it was great, and a very cool shop. We all chatted for a while and then the girls showed up with shopping bags.

We drove down commercial and ended up at the JJ bean location where they first introduced roasting to order on a sample roaster ... it was pretty cool, but no one was roasting at the moment. I managed to get out of drinking more espresso but did catch a glimpse of some nice latte art, and chatted with one of the baristas for a bit, until I realized I was holding up the line of customers that was almost out the door. :)

We headed back to Mark and Beata's and Mark made us some tasty hand made cocktails ... which I was ready for. I spent some time in Mark equipment room admiring limited edition tampers and checking out his one group Marzocco. After a while, we decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner so we said our good byes but made plans to meet up later that evening.

We had been eating very well in Vancouver and were excited to have some excellent seafood. Roberto from Nuova Simonelli had invited us to do dinner and ended up taking us to a place called Rodney's in Yaletown. Kylene has this new obsession with Oysters on the half shell ever since we had them in the East Village on a NYC trip in December. She used to hate the thought of Oysters, so it is kind of funny to watch her eat one after the next. We had 2 dozen to start and ordered some excellent chowder, seared ahi and crab cakes. It was a great meal and Roberto ordered a fantastic white wine that complimented everything perfectly.

It had been a long day but we were ready for more, so I had received a text from Alistair and Mark that a bunch of people were meeting at a place called Chow. We showed up around 9 or 10. Very cool place, with extremely cool cocktails. Quite a few people made it out for drinks, Alistair, Mark and Beata, Chris Owens and M'llissa were also in town and showed up with Drew from Origins Coffee Roasters. Also, in town was Josh? from Novo out of Colorado. We stayed well into the late night, and finally headed back to the hotel around 1 or 2.

The next day we lounged around in the morning, packed and then went to get a late breakfast at a cool Italian themed place called Sciue right near our hotel. It was great, so many great panini, pizza, etc. Also, a cool stage like area for the barista and a walk up/pick up bar similar to those found in Italy. We ate and then headed out of town, making one final stop at the ECM showroom. We wanted to check out a cool bar system/modular cafe build out that Roberto had told us about the night before. The bar systems are called Frigomeccanica and are pretty amazing ... I may write more about them soon.

At the showroom they have a whole wall of whole bean coffee for purchase from many top roasters. It was cool to see Intelligentsia, JJ Bean, 49th parallel, and maybe 10 others there to pick up a bag to take home. I also found a Vespa Demitasse set that I bought for my dad and I's collection. Vancouver was great, but it was time to start our looong journey home.

We made pretty good time getting to the Border, and made it across just fine. As we crossed into Washington it started to snow really hard, and it was a bit sketchy. Luckily I ended up directly behind the snow plow that was on I-5 and we drove at 25 mph for a while, passing people that had spun off onto the side and were stuck, etc. After 10 miles or so the snow was gone and we kept on our way. We made a quick stop in Frendale at the Simonelli factory and picked up some new steam wand tips to try out on our Aurelia, and our Oscar.

I had been talking with Edwin Martinez about meeting for a coffee in Bellingham, and we tried to connect but somehow missed each other when we were in town. We did still end up stopping in Bellingham, and I had not really called ahead so sorry to those who live there that we didn't say hi. We ate a big lunch at a mexican restaurant and then headed to The Black Drop

It was very cool inside and reminded me of the coffee shop I managed in college back in 96. The coffee was great, and the spro I think it was roasted by Origins Coffee Roasters ... they also have coffee from a local Bellingham roaster I believe. Fueled up we got back on I-5 and drove pretty much non-stop until we got back to Portland. We were lucky not to hit snow on the way back and made good time.

We had a great weekend and again, thanks to those who met with us, shared coffee, drinks, food and stories. We hope to make it back soon to B.C. and next time will plan a cafe tour for Victoria Island for sure.

- Matt

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Comment by Dan Welch on February 27, 2008 at 9:54am
Very cool trip. Glad to hear you two had a good time. You certianly started it out right at Le Pigeon. Gotta get back there.

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