By Noreen L Kompanik
“Artigiano” means artisan in Italian- a person immersed in a craft who through practice achieves excellence using their hands, head and heart in all that they create. This could not describe the coffees or talented baristas at Caffè Artigiano any better.
While on a recent trip to the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, we were hoping to find a hot cup of coffee to ward off the chills on a breezy overcast morning. Putting our faith and trust in local’s recommendations has always worked well for my spouse and I and this time was no different.
Since opening in 2000, the Italian-themed coffee house and bistro has been dedicated to the art of crafting the perfect cup of coffee. And that coffee is so popular; the company is expanding and now has 13 stores throughout Canada. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the café’s assistant managers, Hayden Daviau in Yaletown, a trendy, stylish historic railway district in downtown Vancouver.
Hayden, a native of Vancouver Island has been with Caffè Artigiano since last September. We loved her bubbly personality, and the immense pride she exudes in what she does. As Hayden explained. “coffee is an art, from selecting the best coffee farms to bringing out the natural flavors of each coffee bean during the roasting process”. But, employees of Caffè Artigiano don’t just make and serve coffee; they have immense knowledge of the collaborative effort that goes into the final product- one outstanding cup of coffee.
And each farm has its own very unique story. Brazil Fazenda Piedade beans, for example, are grown on a coffee farm in the tropical savanna region of southeastern Brazil. A civil engineer turned farmer inherited the land in 1968 and over the next three decades perfected his technique of producing high-quality coffee and picking only the ripest cherries. After his passing, his three children went on to study agronomy, the science of soil management and crop production. The farm not only produces some of the region’s best coffee beans, it also provides training, housing, meals and medical care to its workers and ensures their children have access to schooling.
And comprehensive training is a huge part of Caffè Artigiano’s culture. Watching the baristas prepare coffee for the patrons was an absolute treat. They perfect the art of timing, be it steaming the milk or brewing each coffee. One barista came to Vancouver all the way from Korea to study coffee and learn the art and craft of coffee preparation and its various components of smoothness, acidity, complexity and sweetness that make for the quintessential cup of coffee.
Most impressive are the intricately-designed cream rosettes, tulips, and hearts all done by hand that adorn the tops of its lattes. These baristas are true artists. And how is it possible that the latte art design stays intact even though the coffee is half-way finished? It seems to be magic.
Our first taste of the Private Reserve Espresso was an incredible tantalizing experience. With its velvety smooth texture, the coffee exhibited a perfect salty, caramel taste with definite hints of roasted nut that left us yearning for more. But, we had to try the current best seller according to Hayden, the Spanish Latte, a nice thick espresso base with a naturally sweet taste due to its secret ingredient- sweetened condensed milk covering the bottom of the cup. No additional sugars were needed in this delightful latte that was literally the best latte we’ve ever had. Ever! And the artistically added concentric cream hearts adorning the surface of this exquisite cup of coffee were the icing on the cake.
If having the opportunity to experience one of the world’s cleanest, greenest and most cosmopolitan cities on our recent vacation wasn’t enough, savoring true craftsman coffee in the heart of Vancouver made these two coffee aficionados extremely happy. As Hayden explained “the locals love it and visitors fall in love with it”. Well, these two visitors surely did.
Location: Caffè Artigiano, 302 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5Z6