If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know we pride ourselves on our coffee. With months of gloomy, cloudy weather, that little caffeine boost is usually necessary to keep everyone powering through until the sun comes out again in the summer. Whether you’re a caffeine addict, a tea aficionado or just a fan of good avocado toast, the cozy coffee shops of the PNW are always an excellent idea in winter. Vancouver, WA is no exception and boasts a handful of spaces that are worth spending a few hours in on a gloomy afternoon.
Compass Coffee Roasting has become the go-to spot in downtown Vancouver. They started out in 2007 in a tiny space on Main Street and grew into the expansive space they’re in now on the corner of 9th and Washington. With some of the friendliest baristas you’ll ever meet and coffee roasted off-site (but locally), you can count on Compass being busy almost any time of day. The middle of the space boasts a long, wide, communal table that encourages conversation — great when you’ve been typing away on your laptop for a few hours. There are bar seats along the windows for people watching, and smaller tables along the opposite wall if you’re looking for a more intimate setting.
The space is decorated beautifully with Edison bulbs and artifacts from Peru (because a lot of the coffee they roast is from there). It is evident that a lot of time and care went into the completion of the space, which shows in their drinks as well. They make their own sauces and steep their teas when you order them. It takes time, and it’s well worth it — their coffee lives up to their slogan “Coffee is Culinary,” and it’s delicious!
Relevant Coffee is another downtown success story. They too started out in a much smaller space and graduated to a big corner shop. It’s usually bustling in there early in the morning, around lunchtime and just before they close in the evening. The space is very welcoming and there is tons of seating, so even when it’s busy you can find a place to sit. There’s a cozy living room area with couches, bench seating alongside a beautiful succulent display and loads of tables set against their giant windows. The windows mean the space is well lit even on the gloomiest of days, which is a plus if you’re in there to get some work done!
The feeling of community is strong here with a whole cast of friendly regulars and people stopping in for the first time. They make a mean cup of chai and have regular and vegan pastries (including a vegan cheddar scone that is to die for). They’re just north of the main drag of Main Street, so there is usually ample parking nearby, too.
Venturing outside of downtown, Albina Press is the epitome of cozy coffee shop. They started out in Portland, but the owner, Kevin Fuller, was living in Vancouver and decided to make the move to expand across the Columbia. Not too far from downtown but definitely off the beaten path, their little shop has warm mood lighting, a big bar area that you can spread out on, and lots of regular seating as well. It’s the kind of place you could while away a lazy Saturday, reading a book and keeping out of the rain. The crowd always feels like neighborhood people and if you stay long enough, you’ll most likely hear someone running into a friend they haven’t seen in a while. I would highly recommend their hot chocolate or a French Press coffee, depending on your mood.
Presso Coffee Kitchen
Presso Coffee Kitchen is another shop that made the move across the bridge, just a little further east in Vancouver. While their Portland shop has a minimal food menu, the Vancouver shop does real breakfast. Their avocado toast is beyond amazing and their specialty and seasonal drinks are not only delicious but beautifully put together as well. They craft their drinks like a piece of artwork — which is not surprising, considering this is probably the most Instagram-friendly coffee shop you’ll ever visit.
The space looks small and unassuming from the front, but as you walk past the register it opens up into a high-ceilinged back room full of couches, tables and chairs, and a small upstairs area as well. They have a large floral wallpapered wall which is perfect for taking pictures in front of — of your coffee, of you with your coffee, your friends with their coffee — you get the idea. Once you see how fancy their drinks are, you’ll definitely want a photo before you drink them, so the well-lit, pristinely decorated surroundings make sense! It’s a bit of a drive to make it out to the shop, but it is well worth the trek.
Brewed Cafe & Pub
Brewed Cafe is a fun little spot that starts out as a coffee shop and finishes out the day as a bar. They have beers on tap as well as a full caffeinated menu. They opened in 2012 and have collected their share of regulars from the downtown coffee scene. With a full breakfast and lunch menu and a case full of pastries, they’re an excellent post-work refuel stop. They host a whole slew of alternative milks, both regular and vegan pastries, and a handful of specialty coffee drinks.
Downstairs, there’s some standing room if you feel like stretching your legs after a long day, and upstairs, the little balcony has booth and table seating. The space is small, but comfortable, and feels like a place you’d want to meet up with friends in the early evening if you weren’t quite feeling up for a bar. I’d recommend their waffle fries and one of their beers on tap, but on warmer days they also have a tasty cold brew if you need your caffeine fix!