There’s nothing quite as enticing as visiting a favourite coffee house and enjoying a rich, aromatic cuppa with a house-made treat to go with it. The ambience of the establishment and the service are equally important to the experience. In the Okanagan, we are very fortunate to have some fabulous coffee houses, each with their own distinct personalities and specialties. Here are a few that we like.
Bean Scene Coffee Works, Kelowna
Bean Scene Downtown
274 Bernard Avenue
Bean Scene Landmark Bakery/Roastery
#100-1615 Dickson Avenue
Owners Deb Synnot and John Anderson call the Bean Scene located on Bernard in downtown Kelowna the Mothership of their coffeehouses as it has been operating for 17 years in the original post office building, with its antique furniture, brick walls and wood floors.
Bean Scene Landmark, open for two years at the Landmark Towers, has a completely different ambience–”We designed this to be all about production, industrial and minimal–we wanted the fire engine red roaster, the stainless steel kitchen and the world barista championship espresso machines to be the focal point,” says Deb.
Bean Scene Coffee Works is one of the only roaster/retail operators and this gives them an advantage. “We can directly experience how our roasted coffee translates.” They roast on demand, by hand and small batch, only 12 kilograms at a time. “All of our mediums are single origin and single estate when we can get them.”
Deb says a well-roasted coffee is only as good as the way it is treated by the barista and all are required to compete in-house to win a chance to compete internationally.
Fave food items to accompany the coffees–all made in house–range from cookies to carrot and chocolate zucchini bars with cream cheese icing. They also create healthy savoury items like brown Basmati rice bowls, bake their own bread, and roast turkey and make meat loaf for sandwiches.
“We strive to promote simplicity and excellence in all areas of our business,” says Deb.
Bean Scene Central
Capri Centre Mall
1835 Gordon Drive, Kelowna
**Bean Scene Landmark
#100-1615 Dickson Avenue
**Just before we went to press we heard the exciting news that Amy and Al had purchased the Bean Scene Landmark coffee house (HQ). Deb and John continue as owners of the bakery and roastery at that location. Congratulations!!
Al and Amy Lang opened their doors October 2012.
Al says at the “comfortably energetic” coffee house, popular coffee drinks vary from season to season but the traditional cappuccino is at the top. “Since the Bean Scene roasts all of its own espresso, this drink is the perfect way to highlight the deep body of our Espresso Graf, the creaminess of the micro-foamed milk, and it’s the perfect vehicle for our baristas to show off some competition-grade art. As for the bakery side of things, I think two of the clear winners would be our granola bars or our wheat-free and vegan Cosmic Cookies.”
Al says that even during those insanely busy hours, with the line up to the door, and the barista slinging lattes at a mile a minute, the patrons continue to talk, laugh, and to genuinely enjoy their time at this coffee house.
1320 Water Street, Kelowna
“As my ‘Nonno’ (grandfather) said to me as a small boy growing up in Italy, ‘Coffee should be as strong as a lion, as dark as night, but as sweet as love’,” says Gio, owner of Kelowna’s wildly popular GiObean. Gio, whose full name is Giovanni Lauretta, opened GiObean in March of 2010 to “offer a coffee experience similar to one that you might get in Italy.” The GiObean experience is a testament to Gio’s Italian background and many years of experience in the coffee industry.
The welcoming, friendly and at times buzzing GiObean works closely with Vernon’s Voets Coffee which roasts a specific GiObean blend of fairly traded, organic 100% Arabica beans weekly.
“Our baristas and I make the coffees from the whole roasted bean to the handcrafted Italian cup of coffee, using an Italian manufactured, manually-operated three-group coffee machine.”
European-style pastries and scones are baked and delivered fresh every morning. For lunch, grilled Italian Panini and sandwiches are “delizioso.”
“We aim to make every aspect of a customer’s visit to GiObean an experience,” says Gio. “Coffee, the Italian way.”
13616 Kelly Avenue, Summerland
“From the beginning it has been our goal to provide something out of the ordinary, a free-thinking community hub supporting local producers, artists and musicians,” says Jamie Embree and her partner Jason about their coffee house Good Omens in Summerland. “That and kick-ass food and drink.”
Not surprisingly, cappuccino is the most popular coffee drink at Good Omens, which is nestled in a residential neighbourhood a few minutes walk from downtown Summerland. Operating for five years this September, it’s located where Jamie’s grandmother used to live.
“We buck the big and foamy trend and serve it short, in a six-ounce cup, double shot of espresso and finely textured milk. It pairs nicely with our most popular food item, Peanut Butter Banana Bread.”
Regulars appreciate the staff at Good Omens for greeting them by name and remembering their preferences. “That and the fact we make things like chocolate and bacon pop tarts.” Both Jamie and Jason are classically trained chefs and operate their busy catering business as well.
The Bench Artisan Food Market
368 Vancouver Avenue, Penticton
The most popular coffee at The Bench Artisan Food Market in Penticton is the house “Bench Blend” custom-blended by Bench barista extraordinaire Dan Gauthier. “It’s a blend of Brazilian, Cuban, Mexican and Sumatra beans… organic and farmer-friendly, roasted in Summerland by Backyard Beans,” says Dawn Lennie, who owns the very successful Bench Market with her sister Deb Halladay.
Locals really appreciate the lively atmosphere at The Bench Market, the great patio, the awesome staff and the delicious and fresh food. “At this time of year we always have some kind of house smoked meat sandwich on the menu. We also always have a great selection of freshly-made salads that are great to enjoy in-house with your lunch or take some with you for a picnic at the beach!” says Dawn.
An additional bonus at The Bench Market is being able to take home Bench frozen soups, gourmet pizzas, artisan pastas and sauces as well as an extensive selection of organic grains, lentils, beans, spices and baking ingredients.