Revolver (Coffee shop)

Restaurant: Revolver
Cuisine: Coffee/Tea/Desserts
Last visited: March 21, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown)
Address: 325 Cambie Street
Transit: Waterfront Stn Eastbound
Price range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!

Food: 5
Service: n/a (pay at cashier)
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Locally owned/operated
  • Specializes in coffee
  • Hand crafted preparation
  • “Hipster” hangout
  • Hidden gem
  • Some baked goods (from Cafe Crema)
  • Sister cafe to Cafe Crema
  • Some gluten-free options
  • Mon-Fri 8am-6pm
  • Saturday 9am-6pm
  • Closed Sunday

**Recommendations: Abakunda Kawa, Rwanda, Ritual Coffee, Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Yup. It’s slowly happening. One hand crafted specialty coffee at a time and I’m slowly becoming a coffee snob… or a hipster. No I’m totally kidding. I have so much more to learn about coffee before I can even be remotely picky about it, but I’m certainly enjoying my coffee lessons with friend and coffee guru Coffee Geek. It’s not even that I want to be a snob about coffee, but I do want to know what makes it good and develop a palate for it. I want to know what I should be looking for and essentially paying for. It’s the whole coffee culture I’m quite curious about, so I’ll deconstruct it one cup at a time.

I would say my first “lesson” in coffee was visiting the coffee bean farm in Blue Mountain in Jamaica which was followed by a 3 day coffee boot camp at the Van Houtte Getaway in Montreal. While both were educational and valuable, it was hard to be critical when I was just absorbing information. I was starting from limited knowledge, so it was hard to ask the right questions. However I take everything with a grain of salt, as you should with my posts too, as I always encourage people to do further research on their own.

I don’t want to preach about something I’m not confident in, so really I’m just taking you along my personal coffee journey… because I’m just a “small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world”… okay sorry, but “journey”, just made me think of Journey.

Now getting back to Revolver. I guess you could call this Lesson in Coffee 201. My first guided lesson took place at Matchstick Coffee which is a solid benchmark for specialty coffee in Vancouver. Revolver would be considered more or less on the same level for many coffee connoisseurs, so I wanted another lesson in a different, yet comparable context.

Revolver is a family owned and operated coffee shop and the three brothers more or less manage the store. The art installation on the wall is a map made out of nails and the brown nails represent the regions where coffee beans are grown. The shop has a very stylized and modern Western feel, and although it’s not really my scene, I definitely appreciated it for what it stood for and delivered.

If you’re a beginner the menu might be intimidating, but if you’re an expert it might excite you. I mean how do you order? What do you order? And what kind of brewing technique do you want? It was definitely fancy pants coffee, or fancy tight hipster pants coffee, so you either get it or you don’t.

If you’re even remotely curious about exploring coffee and learning about it, I would recommend it because the staff here are helpful… just don’t be afraid to ask. I would also suggest checking out their complimentary coffee tastings every Friday from 1-2pm. Personally as a passionate food and drink geek, I did find value in my experience, but it’s more because I had someone guiding me. To be honest if I didn’t, I might have left thinking “what the heck did I just pay for”?

On the table:

I couldn’t decide between the Tasting Flight and the Brew Flight so I ended up getting both. I had to get the full experience so I might as well do it the right way the first time. There are not many places offering either and the Brew Flight is particularly rare.

4 Factors That Make An Excellent Espresso (4 M’s)

1. Macinazione (Grind) – The beans should be ground right before it’s made.

2. Miscela (Blend) – The better the bean the better the coffee.

3. Macchina (Machine) – It requires the proper tool built with quality materials.

4. Mano (Barista) – He/she makes or breaks the recipe… or the machine.

**Although these pertain to the art of an espresso, they can also be translated to the art of a coffee.

3 Ways to Taste Coffee

1) The Swish – Smell, swish once in your mouth and swallow or spit

2) The Push – Smell, use your tongue to push the coffee to the roof of your mouth and swallow or spit

3) The Slurp – Smell, slurp (allows it to aerate), swish once and swallow or spit

Tasting Flight

  • Three coffees brewed one way (10-15 minutes) $9
  • The first step was identifying the type of bean I liked. None of them were labeled so I tried them blindly before opening the card.
  • The tasting flight featured 3 Rwandas from 3 farms, and 3 roasters.
  • I actually wished they were presented in different cups and I missed the Matchstick ones which retained heat so well – see here.
  • This is “tasting” coffee, not drinking coffee.
  • Abakunda Kawa, Rwanda, Ritual 5/6 (Excellent)
    • It was love at first sip. I immediately knew that this was going to be it.
    • The texture was smooth and the flavours were well rounded out and not too acidic or fruity.
    • The acidity it had was balanced with almost a chocolaty flavour so it wasn’t sharp.
  • Abakunda Kawa, Rwanda, Handsome – 2/6 (Okay)
    • I found this more acidic than the Ritual and the brightest in flavour out of all of them.
    • It almost made me purse my lips and it just wasn’t for my tastes.
  • Kibuye, Gitesi Cooperative, Rwanda, Sightglass – 4/6 (Very good)
    • I thought this one should have been in the middle because it tasted in between the two.
    • It was slightly similar to the Ritual, but it didn’t have that chocolaty smoothness. It shared a similar acidic profile though.
  • If you know your coffee beans and roasters and already know what you like, then I’m not sure if you would find the Tasting Flight beneficial.
  • I enjoyed the Tasting Flight as an educational tool, but it also kind of made me even pickier.
  • I really wanted to only drink the Ritual, so it can be seen as a bit of a waste.
  • If it wasn’t back to back, I probably would have drank any of them; but with this set up, it basically took me $9 to figure out which coffee I really liked.

All of them were from Rwanda, which kind of proved that it doesn’t mean anything when people say “I like coffee from     (enter name of country here)     best”. It’s the same thing with chocolate, cheese and wine. Every country has the bad and the good, so it really depends on whose doing the handling and managing of the final product. Of course what it really comes down to is whether or not you liked it, but that’s always a given.

Brew Flight: French Press Coffee Maker, Siphon Coffee Maker, Aeropress Coffee Maker

Next up was the Brew Flight! Yes, in a way it is making a cup of coffee very complicated, but it really helped me discover what I do and don’t like. Again, if I didn’t have the back to back comparison, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell and I would have enjoyed my coffee in whatever form it was given in. You only know what you know, so just like the Tasting Flight, I saw value in this as an educational tool, otherwise it’s not really necessary, but worth experiencing once.

Brew Flight

  • One coffee brewed three ways (10-15 minutes) $9
  • Since my favourite was the Abakunda Kawa, Rwanda, Ritual, I decided to try it in a brew flight.
  • It only made sense to explore brewing after discovering my choice of bean.
  • This  goes back to Macchina (Machine) or coffee maker.
  • French Press Coffee Maker4/6 (Very good)
    • This takes 4 minutes and the temperature drops as it steeps.
    • It’s not ideal, but better than drip and a great choice for an everyday coffee.
    • Naturally there was a bit of sediment in the cup from this procedure, but it still had good flavour that wasn’t thinned out.
  • AeroPress Coffee Maker (Able disk) – 1.5/6 (Poor-Okay)
    • This was my least favourite brewing technique.
    • It was thin in flavour and it didn’t retain heat.
    • It just tasted a bit watered down and it’s not like it was made with less coffee grounds.
    • Compared to the others, I actually didn’t like the flavour, which just confirms how “big” of an impact the brewing technique can make.

Usually the brew flight comes with the French Press, AeroPress and Kone, but we upgraded the Kone to Siphon for an extra $4.

  • Siphon Coffee Maker or Vacuum Coffee Pot5/6 (Excellent)
    • This is considered an upgrade and it’s an additional $4 if you want your coffee brewed this way.
    • This was my favourite in a blind tasting, so it actually does make a difference and one that I could taste.
    • I do find it quite an up-charge though and I found it more of a “please don’t order it because it takes so much time to make” up-charge.
    • It’s a 45 second steep, but the process is longer, and the coffee flavour was really well showcased.
    • The flavour was aromatic and sweet, and there’s no aftertaste and it just tasted clean and pure.
    • It made the AeroPress almost taste rancid, but again I was particularly sensitive having them back to back.
    • There’s a bit of labour that goes into it, hence the +$4, so if you’re not keen on spending $7-8 for a coffee, I would say just skip it… it’s excellent, but not life changing.
    • I’ve actually tried soup served this way too – see here.

This is the Kone method which is normally served with the Brew Flight if you don’t upgrade to the Siphon method.

Chocolate Croissant2/6 (Okay)

  • $3
  • I’m pretty particular with what I look for in this classic French pastry.
  • It’s not an authentic croissant and I wasn’t keen on the style, but authenticity aside I still found it just alright.
  • The shape took on a rectangle which is quite typical of chocolate croissants, but the colour was light and the texture soft all around lacking that crispiness.
  • The bottom was still golden and light yellow, so it didn’t have that caramelized croissant crunch which is desired.

  • It wasn’t particularly flaky or buttery and the chocolate was bittersweet, but not really a stand out.
  • The inside puffed up quite nicely albeit a bit thick and inconsistent in layers.
  • It was moist, light and somewhat fluffy with a decent membrane like formation, but had minimal stretch.
  • It was okay, but I just wouldn’t order it again.
  • This isn’t traditional either, but if you like chocolate croissants you should see this Chocolate Danish.

Chocolate Slice3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $3.25
  • It was a simple “dump and stir” recipe, but a solid foundation for a good quality chocolate cake.
  • It was straight forward, but very good for what it was.
  • It wasn’t that sweet and it was incredibly moist and almost brownie-like.
  • It was still a cake more so than a fudge, but it was denser than a sponge cake.
  • It was made with cocoa and likely chocolate, milk and eggs (?), but there weren’t any chocolate pieces in it.
  • It wasn’t a very rich dessert despite the way it looks.
  • I would rather have this than a standard chocolate muffin.
  • It was a “goes well with coffee” treat rather than a “I need coffee to go with this” treat.

**Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • $4
  • This was my favourite and I’m not even a “gluten-free” person.
  • I know “gluten-free” allergies can be serious, but part of me thinks it’s just an excuse to go on a diet without having to say it.
  • A gluten free cake is still a cake though, so it doesn’t make it really any “healthier” than a cake with flour in it.
  • This was actually sweeter than the chocolate slice too.
  • I would have thought this was an almond chocolate cake because I could really taste the almond flour and ground almonds used to make it. I loved it!
  • I also love nutty desserts though and anything with almond flour.
  • This almond flour tasted fresh and I could bite into little coarse crumbs of it. It’s a costly ingredient and they didn’t hold back.
  • It was incredibly moist and almost creamy and not a brownie and still a tender cake.
  • The cake part was delicious, but the frosting didn’t work for me.
  • The frosting was very sweet and almost like a mass produced cupcake frosting so it almost cheapened the quality of the cake.
  • The frosting had a very sugary and almost granular texture, but the cake was tender, light and well textured. I would order this again.

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5 Comments

  • Bow says:

    It’s all very well to have a terrific coffee, brewed specially for you, using specialized equipement and being FRESHLY made…however one of the reasons, I go to Brazza’s is not because Brazza’s makes the BEST coffee(they make a very good coffee) but because I feel welcome there. It’s in my neighborhood and it’s part of my daily ritual. That’s more important to me than getting the BEST cup of java.
    The Abakunda Kawa sounds like my fav too, love any chocolate overtones….the gluten free chocolate cake looks good. Did they have any biscotti ? I enjoy a biscotti with my coffee.

  • Andrew says:

    As an espresso enthusiast, I have to say revolver is a step up. I mean, its all fine and dandy to enjoy ones sweets with the coffee, but I am certainly not there for the quality of their baked goods. They offer misceli from a number of less well known roasters, such as heart in portland and single origin from south america, as well as more mainstream such as ritual. Their machines are clean (which is huge), their shots dialed in, and you can choose which blend, which they rotate, you prefer for consumption.

  • Mijune says:

    @Andrew – Yup! I never said the coffee was bad. I never even said the baked goods were bad. I just can’t deny the things I had and what I thought of them. I think it’s great that you love them so much!

  • Mijune says:

    @bow – Bow! The desserts are actually from Cafe Crema in West Vancouver! I 100% agree with you btw… if the place makes you feel comfortable that’s half the battle. These coffees weren’t made just for me though, they’re available all the time for anyone 🙂 Hope you give it a try and if it’s a no go… then back to Brazza’s! 🙂

  • Linda says:

    its great to see people who are so passionate about their work and is willing to share in their knowledge with other people – i will definitely check out their complimentary coffee tastings and hopefully learn something new myself 🙂

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