A 20 seat coffee and chocolate house called East Van Roasters is opening up at 319 Carrall St. in the first week of April (right next to Nelson The Seagull and across the street from Pidgin).
Owned and operated by the Portland Hotel Society, the social enterprise cafe comes to us via polymath Shelley Bolton, who we know from The Window and our recent tour of The Only, and Merri Schwartz, recent recipient of a Mayor’s Arts Award, pastry chef extraordinaire, and founder of Growing Chefs! (arguably one of the raddest non-profit organisations in Vancouver).
What can we expect? Roasted in house chocolate and coffee pairings and flights; seating on donated grand fir church pews and vintage stacking chairs reclaimed from an East Van bingo hall, winnowing and nib rooms (like Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, for example); East Van honeys from Hives For Humanity; single origin, made in-house chocolate bars; educational programs; regular cuppings and tastings; the best smell going on the Downtown Eastside (I mean, roasting coffee and chocolate…seriously); and women from the Rainier Women’s Treatment Centre staffing the joint.
Master roaster Doug Graf has a Loring Smart Roaster to play with. The same machine – with the lowest emissions of all roasters – will take care of the chocolate as well. We’ve sampled some of both already, and they’re top drawer (the 70% Madagascar chocolate in particular being a highlight). Bolton actually traveled to Hawaii to train at Madre, Honolulu’s bean-to-bar chocolate company. She’s quickly become something of a chocolate geek with very high standards.
The aim might be to supply Vancouver chocolatiers and chefs with locally-produced chocolate, cacao powder and cacao butter (like Theo in Seattle, for example, only smaller in scale), but the mandate is to create training and employment for the women of the Rainier. And that’s awesome.
You can get a feel for how East Van Roasters will look from the images above (taken by Michelle Sproule yesterday). We took the 7 shots below way back in October, when things were just getting serious.