Critical Mass Coffee Crawl / New Wicked

Author: george Posted: October 9, 2008

A Robert Csar production.

Last Friday I met up at Main St. JJ to join in on Robert Csar’s self coined “critical mass cafe crawl”.  And crawl we did.The goal was to hit 5 cafes, take lots of pictures, and enjoy some of the best that Vancouver has to offer.

We went 3 for 3 baby.

When I arrived I joined in with 3 other JJ’ers – Robert, Jesse, and Manuel – and so it began.  Grady and Mike were behind the bar and started us on great notes (pun intended, as usual.), serving up some beautiful espresso jj.  The jj has been quite exceptional recently, and almost ‘on’.  Thank you Spencer.

We hit wicked on West 7th next, and had a beautiful shot of black cat from Adam.  Ristretto’d and uber thick.  You can tell just how thick it was from the line up the side of the cup from the pull.


We sat on the patio for a bit outside and another crawler was added to the mix, Sam, also from JJ.  By the way, it was 5 Nikons to 1 Canon, once again making Nikon the barista camera of choice.  Overall there were 2 D90′s, a D80, and D60, and a D50, and an almost-SLR-but-not-quite Canon.  I’m sure to the general public we just looked like a bunch of aspiring paparazzi rather than baristas.


While we were paying for our drinks, there was a sign on the cash that said the new wicked was opening up and free coffee was being offered.  Add another cafe to the crawl – obviously we had to go there too now.  But first:  Elysian.

Elysian was as good as always.  We all got espressos, which were written down as ‘spros on the yellow sticky pad they write all the orders down on.  (Notice they have no bills/chits at Elysian?)  The reason I bother to mention this is that calling espresso ‘spro’ right now is becoming pretty hip, incase you haven’t noticed.  


Things got pretty wild after we finished our ‘spro.


As we were heading out one of the new guys behind the counter introduced himself as Troy, and I recognized that as a name that has commented on cleanhotdry before. Turns out it’s the same one, and he just moved up from Edmonton to workwith Elysian.  Welcome Troy.  

While we stood outside about to leave, John showed up, making us a party of 6.  

Next up was 49th, only a few blocks over.  Colter was pulling the shots, which for anyone who knows him means we inevitably had a great handful of drinks.  Always consistent and calm, he’s the ‘Cool Hand Luke’ of baristas.  And I haven’t even seen that movie.


New Wicked was next, and the sign on the front window confirmed the statement we had read earlier.


It’s on Hornby and Smithe, just a few blocks away from the bustling Hornby Artigiano across from the Art Gallery.  There is lots of wood and warm tones throughout – and a side wall full of Intelligentsia coffee and tea.

One of the first things that you see is this colossal sized graffiti-esque intelligentsia logo in the back corner.


Brad, who owns Wicked, was on sight and happened to be talking to my dad as we walked in.  I met him for the first time and he told us all a bit about the place.  As he pointed out, this Wicked has 2 of everything.  2 espresso machines, 2 sets of 2 grinders (Mazzer E doserless grinders for caffeinated), and 2 clovers.

The black cat was looking mighty fine here as well.

mouse tails.
mouse tails.

Arthur was pulling us shots on one machine, while Kylie (spelling?) was training someone on the other.

The area between the 2 machines is designated for drink pick up.  It’s very inviting.

I give it a month or two before it has people lining up out the door, and you can count on me being one of them.  If you’re downtown, or even if you aren’t, I’d highly recommend checking it out.  I actually went back the very next day with Spencer and Tyler (buzz coffee, nanaimo) and took a couple more shots, from both the camera and Arthur.

After Wicked we walked a block or two down to the final stop, Hornby Artigiano.  The line up reach the door’s entrance as usual, and the place was packed.  We somehow nabbed a 6 seat empty table at the back and sat there in a daze, recapping our day.  The effects of the espresso were kicking in fast, and hangover like symptoms were being felt by everyone.  

The worst part of it was that Jesse and I had to head straight out from Artigiano to work a shift, him back at Main St. and me at crema.  I could barley even look at or smell the espresso without getting ill effects while on bar the rest of the day.  

Probably the best part of all this is that Chris and I ended up joining Spencer and Tyler the very next day for another coffee crawl, clearly not having learnt my lesson from the preceding day. 

But you know what?  Just like the day before, it was totally worth it.

Other points of view:  Robert, Jesse, Chris.

7 Responses to “Critical Mass Coffee Crawl / New Wicked

  1. Robert says:

    as much as it hurts to say – we need to do these more often george. victoria? day-trip?

    or if not victoria then howabout an outer circuit?

    crema, artigiano, & moja on your side of the water

    jj bean p&t

    ethical bean & artigiano out in burnaby

    three or four cars packed with supreme geeks.
    hmmm… & halloween does fall on a friday….!!

  2. alistair says:

    next time give me a call, maybe a stop at the lab?

  3. J says:

    sign me up for the north-van all-star tour
    …if my stomach agrees

  4. Jason says:

    Love the travelogue and thanks for adding some new cafe spots to my list for me to check out!

  5. Tyler says:

    Count me in for Victoria.

  6. andrew says:

    Take care of our Troy. He’s new to having more than two places for espresso in one city.
    Could I make a motion that a tour of cafes for the purpose tasting the sweet sweet nectar of espresso be called a “Twitch”.
    eg. “After the pub crawl last night I felt like death so I called the lads and we went on a Northshore Twitch and now the doctor says I need a new liver but at least I’m awake.

  7. My best/worst of 2008 (coffee) « daily YHZ espresso says:

    [...] cafe — wishful thinking, but I think it could be the East Coast’s answer to Wicked Cafe II on Hornby); Halifax will send 3 people to the Eastern Canada Barista Championship.  Finally, as [...]

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