As many of my friends and family know, I love a good latte and I am always on the hunt for a good coffee shop. There are many things that go into what I think makes a good coffee shop – how aesthetically pleasing it, if they will take your reusable cup, if they offer ceramic mugs to stay and sit-in, the music they play, the niceness of the people working, if the coffee is good, if they clean their espresso machine well (i.e., coffee not bitter) etc.
We often try to find good coffee shops wherever we go, and try to stray away from coffee shops that are a part of a chain and try to go to ones that are locally owned and operated. Often we are always sipping coffee when we are driving down island to Nanaimo or Victoria – which means we always have to pass through Port Alberni first. When we travel through Port Alberni we usually always stop for a coffee for a little “pick-me-up” before we continue driving south.
I feel like I now have a really good grasp on the Port Alberni cafe scene and am going to share my favourites in this charming town.
- The OG Camper Cafe. Located at the Clutesi Marina when you are driving into Port Alberni, there is a Dodge B-300 van from the 1970s (looks kinda like our van!) that serves hand-pressed espresso out of the back. This cafe is so cute and serves fantastic espresso-based drinks. When we visited, they made the latte in my reusable cup – when you bring your own, they give you a slight discount. The latte itself was very tasty – the foam was so smooth, and the shots of espresso were not bitter (which has been something that my most recent coffees have been). AND they use Tofino Coffee Roastery beans so you know the coffee is locally sourced. The two people who own and operate this cafe are really kind and made our cafe experience unique, I would recommend this coffee shop to everyone passing through – how often do you get to say you got a coffee made in a van?!
- Burdes Beans. This was the original coffee shop that we always visited in Port Alberni, as they used to have longer hours and were open when we drove through. They have a great logo and bird themed cafe (as the name may suggest) – I would recommend picking up some of their super fun stickers! You are able to use your reusable mug here, and can sit either inside or on their patio that has great outdoor seating. I really enjoy this coffee shop and it brings back nice memories of the first time I ever drove through Port Alberni on our way to Tofino.
- The Riverbend Cafe and General Store. I wrote a whole blog post on this cafe in Port Alberni – but it is located on the main highway coming into Port Alberni (if you’re coming from Tofino) so it is either your first chance to get a coffee once you have left Tofino or is your last chance before you drive the 2 hours up to Tofino. They will fill up your reusable cup and/or offer ceramic mugs if you wish to sit in the cafe to enjoy your beverage. They also sell a lot of locally made artisanal products and pre-made frozen meals to take away. They use Fernwood Roastery Beans (locally roasted on Vancouver Island). It is a really cute cafe that I recommend.
- SteamPunk Cafe. We recently tried this coffee shop as it was the only one open around 8:00am. I had a pretty good latte from here and Nathan had a good Americano. The coffee shop itself has a cute little section of the cafe that is designated for reading which is really cool as I often find it difficult to read in cafes as it can be quite noisy.
Overall, Port Alberni does not have a shortage of good cafes or coffee shops. All the cafes that we have visited have unique stories and are all a little different – it feels like there is a cafe for everyone. The only thing Port Alberni is missing is a coffee roaster – but if they do and I am not aware of it, please let us know! I am always satisfied with whichever coffee shop we end up visiting when we pass through Port Alberni.
If you have any suggestions of other coffee shops that I should visit when I am next in Port Alberni, I’d love to know about them!