Coffee Culture and Why You Should Take Advantage of it

Victoria has one of the best coffee cultures in the country, and we’d be fools not to take advantage of it.

I grew up in Victoria, and it didn’t really hit me until I was about 18: Victoria is pretty wicked. It’s eclectic, with an uber community-oriented vibe. We’re surrounded by local businesses- coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries.

As students, I’d say our most frequented category of businesses is cafés. Lucky for us, Victoria’s humming with them. Sure, there’s a Starbucks (or two if you’re downtown) on every corner, but chances are where there’s a green merwoman, there’s a family run coffee shop with antsy staff members just waiting for you to walk through the doors.

img_6090-1Local businesses depend on us. We’re their ultimate customers — sleep deprived, social, and adventurous. We lap up lattés, and we aren’t afraid to indulge in a cookie, or three, every once in awhile.

But local businesses also depend on each other. Think about it — those donuts you love at Second Crack Coffee? They’re made by Empire Donuts. The delicious coffee at Part and Parcel? Supplied by Caffe Fantastico.  Your favourite Bows and Arrows bean? Grown by a small scale farmer in La Plata, Huila, Colombia.

See, what I’m trying to say here is that by supporting one local business, you’re supporting ten others.

With that in mind, I’d like to bust some common myths about local cafes:

1. Their coffees aren’t fair trade.

“Fair Trade,” like “organic,” is actually a license that the farmer needs to buy. Getting a fair trade license is expensive and requires jumping through a lot of hoops, so it may well be that it’s not a top priority for farmers to label their goods “fair trade.”  Even when Victoria businesses work closely with a family run coffee farm in Ethiopia, the bean may not be licensed “fair trade” — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fairly traded! You can read all about Canada’s fair trade certification system here.

Ripe coffee beans

Ripe coffee beans

2. There are no coffee shops other than Starbucks or Tim Hortons near my house, and I don’t have the time to go all the way downtown.

Sometimes coffee shops hide in discreet places, but they are everywhere, trust me. Live in Gordon Head? Try Township Coffee. Hillside area? 2% Jazz. View Royal? The Nest Cafe. Quadra Village? Caffe Fantastico. Fernwood? Cornerstone Cafe or The Parsonage. Oak Bay? Hide + Seek. Just to name a few…

3. Going out for coffee is way too expensive — I can’t even afford Timmies at this point in the year.

The coffee culture in Corfu, Greece reminded me so much of Victoria it made me homesick.

The coffee culture in Corfu, Greece reminded me so much of Victoria it made me homesick.

I feel ya there. However, due to my slightly unhealthy caffeine habit, I’ve had to come up with some solutions.

Invest in a small coffee maker (my Aeropress changed my life, and it was only $40.00) so you can make single cups throughout the day — Melita drips, and French Presses are great too. Then stock up on beans beans beans.

Lots of roasters on the island have a huge array  of beans that vary in price. For a more affordable option, go for something like the Carrizal from Fantastico. It’ll last you two weeks and it’s under $13 — that’s only $0.89 a day!

4. Coffee shops have ridiculous hours — there’s no way I can make it there by 5 o’clock on a weekday.

Yeah, this is totally true of a lot of shops. But definitely not ALL of them. Habit in the Blanshard atrium is open until 10:00, Cornerstone until 9:00, and 2% Jazz until 7:00.

To some, coffee is just something to get them through the day. But to others coffee is a lifestyle — something to learn about, share with others, and bring people together around the world. By supporting local businesses, we nurture a community of workers who care deeply about their craft. And that’s something we can all admire.

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