Café Society

Find local treats, high-octane coffee drinks and community at B.C.’s indie coffee shops.


Salt Spring Island is known as much for its natural beauty as it is for its colourful, bustling Saturday market. Whether kayaking or shopping, a satisfying cup of coffee fuels the day: find it at Café Talia, the most charming little spot in Ganges. Located in the island’s original century-old telephone exchange building, the coffee shop has vaulted ceilings and exposed wooden beams. Organic beans come from Mount Maxwell Coffee Roasters, which operates out of a yurt in the Cranberry Valley.

Sip beetroot and cacao-turmeric lattes, plus espresso-based drinks infused with indulgent housemade vanilla and caramel syrups. Delicious baked goods come from Jana’s Bake Shop and Laughing Daughters Gluten-Free Foods, both local favourites. TRY: A Fragrant lavender mocha.


Some cafés feel more like fast-food chains than cozy local spots for lingering over caffeine and conversation. Not community-based The Art We Are: It isn’t far from the Kamloops Art Gallery and has the arts at its very heart. Most Saturday nights feature live music, while local art–from woodworks to woven pieces–adorns the walls.

Artistry carries over to the menu, featuring B.C. growers and producers like Blackwell Dairy Farm in Kamloops, Armstrong’s Village Cheese Company, Nelson’s Matcha Mountains and Splinter Hill Holistics, a local herbal tea purveyor. Kung Fu Quinoa with organic dried cranberries and Marvellous Mexi Pockets are popular bites. TRY: A Dirty Chai, a chai latte with a shot of espresso.

Photo courtesy of The Art We Are



For those who love to play outside, Squamish is nature’s Disneyland, with some of the world’s best windsurfing, climbing and backcountry exploring–and a demand for high-quality espresso. It’s been served since 2014 by Counterpart, where clean lines and natural wood accents create a warm, open atmosphere of Scandinavian and Japanese minimalist design.

Coffee comes from Canadian brokers who work with producers in Ethiopoa, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to source traceable, small-farm beans that are roasted on site. Counterpart also carries baked goods and snacks from local businesses like Tall Tree Bakery, XOCO Westcoast Chocolates and Lucas Teas. TRY: A Coffee subscription (unique 340-gram bags sent to you, from $130 for six bags).

Photo courtesy of Counterpart Coffee



Started in the founders’ Invermere garage in 1996, Kicking Horse got a caffeinated shot from Italian espresso giant Lavazza (which bought an 80 per cent stake of the company, valued at $215-million) in 2017. But the best place to enjoy a cup of Kick Ass, Smart Ass or other signature grinds is where it all began.

Surrounded by a boardwalk-style patio lined with Prairie grasses, Kicking Horse Cafe is adjacent to the roaster’s Rocky Mountain headquarters. Inside is a sleek, contemporary space, with rich “counter culture”–from espresso drinks and cold brews to eats like energy balls, jar salads, breakfast wraps and jumbo muffins. TRY: The Red Eye, a brewed coffee topped with a double shot of Cliff Hanger Espresso.

Photo courtesy of Kicking Horse Coffee

By Gail Johnson