I am a huge coffee fanatic. I truly think my immense craving for coffee is the only thing that gets me out of bed each morning. The smell of the espresso beans brewing is my heaven on earth.
Because of my love for coffee, I love checking out different cafes, but finding accessible ones can often be a challenge. A lot of cafes are notorious for being teeny tiny on the inside, leaving no room for me to navigate my wheelchair around or find seating that isn’t too cramped.
And yes, Starbucks is almost always a win, but sometimes I want something different. I love the ambiance of sitting in a quaint neighborhood cafe, where the baristas have their regulars, and they can actually speak to the quality of their beans and fresh baked goods.
So next time you’re looking for a nice place to meet a first date, spend a productive afternoon getting work done, or just enjoy a delicious cappuccino, consider checking out one of these accessible cafes in Vancouver.
Photo Credit: Alexey Skachkov
The offerings: Nemesis is consistently rated as one of Vancouver’s best coffee spots. It is a bright, modern cafe with excellent brews and an all-day brunch menu that you won’t be able to resist. They offer a rotating selection of beans (which you can either choose to get as a pour over or espresso), and if you order a latte, you can definitely expect some Insta-worthy latte art.
The space: Nemesis’ Gastown location is filled with large glass windows, allowing lots of natural light in. Polished concrete floors, white walls, and wood accents make this space feel trendy yet inviting. All the tables are at a lowered height and the service counter is also slightly lower than average, making it quite accessible overall. There is also a private accessible bathroom with grab bars and a barrier free sink. Unfortunately, there is no automatic door opener, but the door is usually propped open in the nice weather. It does get busy on the weekends, however, so do plan to get there early if you are hoping to enjoy your coffee inside.
Photo Credit: Matchstick YVR
The offerings: Matchstick Coffee Roasters is a boutique coffee roaster with five locations across Vancouver. They are known for their quality coffee and fresh-baked baked goods like croissants, cookies, and muffins. Their bread is also available for sale by the loaf, and they have a full menu available for breakfast and lunch.
The space: Matchstick Coffee‘s Riley Park location is wheelchair accessible, with a very spacious floor plan. At 1,700 square feet, the space accommodates 35 seats inside and 15 seats outside during the summer. It has a natural and clean aesthetic that allows natural light to always flood in. The washroom has an automatic door opener in both directions, with a barrier free sink that is also automatic. There is no automatic opener at the main entrance, but the door is glass so staff can easily see you if assistance is needed.
The offerings: This coffee-and-bakery joint has a huge roster of caffeinated drinks, artisanal pastries, and gourmet sandwiches. They offer six different types of bread, one of which is made with four different flours and left to ferment for 40 hours. Not only that, but Small Victory is known for making their own Ethiopian cold brew (the extraction is done drop by drop over 24 hours). It is definitely one of the best places in the city for cold brew coffee!
The space: At 3,200 square feet, Small Victory Granville feels massive compared to the rest of the cafes in the area. There is an automatic door opener at the entrance, and once inside, you will notice that the tall ceilings give the space a nice airy feel. The white and gold bar also adds a beautiful touch of elegance. It seats 47 people, so there is always plenty of space to grab a table. If desired, you can also use their mobile ordering app to make the payment process easy and efficient.
Photo Credit: Elysian Coffee Roasters
The offerings: Elysian is an incredible cafe that sources, roasts, and brews all their own coffee. Whether you like coffee that’s covered in chocolate, doused with cream, or simply plain black, they are here to make coffee simply delicious in whatever way you want it. They also serve up delicious baked goods for an added treat!
The space: Each of Elysian’s cafés have a consistent, pleasantly minimalist aesthetic. Their Mount Pleasant location (7th & Ontario) and their Kitsilano location (5th & Burrard) are both accessible and spacious with wheelchair accessible bathrooms. However, please note that each location only has a few low-top tables, as most of the cafe has bar-height seating.
The offerings: Pallet Coffee Roasters is a locally owned and community-minded coffee company, with 7 locations spanning across Metro Vancouver. They source in-season coffee beans from exceptional producers around the world to ensure every cup is perfect. Like most cafes, they have tasty baked goods, but their “build-your-own sandwich” is the biggest hit. You can create your sandwich from the bread up, starting with a bagel, gluten-free bread, or croissant, then add on all the fillings and sauce your heart desires.
The space: All Pallet cafes are designed to be comfortable and modern. The décor can be described as industrial, with lots of wood details. The Kitsilano location is large and airy with two-story windows and plenty of seating, including a large communal table and a long, beautiful bar area for espresso drinks and pour overs. There is an automatic door opener to enter the cafe, as well as a spacious wheelchair accessible washroom (although you will need to ask a barista for the code as it is kept locked). If you visit in the summertime, they also have a wraparound patio that is dog friendly.
Photo Credit: Yes! We’re Eating Again!
The offerings: 49th Parallel endeavors to sustainably source and craft exceptional coffee. Overall, the shop definitely tends to serve darker roasts in favor of the fruitier / less bitter blends, however you can still get your sugar fix as Lucky’s Doughnuts are made fresh in house daily. Try one of their classic flavours like Vanilla Old Fashioned or Sprinkled, or take a stab at their more bold flavours like Pumpkin Cheesecake Bismarck, Apple Bacon Fritter, or Pistachio Ring.
The space: All 49th Parellel’s Vancouver locations are wheelchair accessible. Their Thurlow Street location is situated in the heart of Downtown Vancouver at the corner of West Georgia and Thurlow Street and is also the only location where you can order savoury food items in addition to doughnuts. Their Kitsilano location is a must-visit in the warm weather as they have an enclosed patio perfect for soaking up that Vitamin-D and admiring the bustling ambiance of the neighborhood. Finally, their Main Street location in the Mount Pleasant area offers a very spacious interior, with plenty of seating options from 2 seaters to large communal tables. There is also a patio outside, which tends to get plenty of sun in the afternoon.
Photo Credit: Yelp
The offerings: Grounds for Coffee is committed to providing the finest-quality food and beverages and a cozy neighborhood haven in which to enjoy them. They sell 100 percent premium, ethically sourced, organic Arabica coffee beans, as well as cinnamon buns that are made fresh daily using locally sourced, wholesome ingredients. These cinnamon buns are so good, in fact, that they have received a cult-like following by many foodies in Vancouver.
The space: Although both of their locations are wheelchair accessible, I highly recommend checking out the newer Commercial Drive location as it is much more spacious than their original Alma Street spot. Even though it is quite large, this location evokes a warm and welcoming atmosphere with natural elements like stone, wood, and steel. It is a perfect place to get work done as there is free Wi-Fi, lots of electrical outlets, and plenty of seating options like community workspace and standalone tables. An accessible washroom is also available.
Photo Credit: WorkFrom
The offerings: Nelson the Seagull is a family-run quaint coffeehouse and bake shop known for breakfast, breads, pastries, sandwiches & picnic boards. The best part is that they make their own sourdough bread, which is the basis for most of their dishes. According to their website, their menu is influenced by the belief that simple high-quality ingredients are always best.
The space: This cafe is in one of Vancouver’s oldest heritage buildings, yet is surprisingly still very accessible with a spacious, open concept design. The owners of this cafe are originally from South Africa and decided to incorporate subtle touches of their home country into its design. For example, behind the counter in the café, there’s a large black and white photo of a young Nelson Mandela as a boxer. They also preserved the building’s original mosaic floor tile and added eclectic elements like large lounge sofas and a rough palette table on wheels. Unfortunately, there is no automatic door opener but everything inside the cafe is very accessible (including the table heights).
Photo Credit: Carlito Pablo, The Straight
The offerings: Prado Cafe is about two simple things; crafting the perfect brew and creating a great atmosphere. Here, you can always count on getting a lovely cup of coffee made from top quality beans and espresso machines (they are well known for their flat white, but if you’re not in the mood for coffee, some locations also have kombucha and sparkling water on tap). Along with your beverage, you can also have a bite of their freshly made treats including waffles, brioche toasts, and their best-in-town gluten-free muffins.
The space: As soon as you enter any of Prado’s locations, you can tell that they’ve been created by hipsters, for hipsters. The owner’s main goal was to create a space that feels like it’s a welcoming extension of your home, which they have certainly achieved. Large windows, chandeliers, and big wooden tables make it look like you are sitting in your living room. Not only that, but their playlist is so good that you could stay here for hours working. All their Vancouver locations have a step-free entrance; however, I would recommend visiting the Fraser Street or Hastings Street locations as they are the only two that have accessible washrooms that aren’t down a flight of stairs.
About the Author
Tori Hunter is a writer and travel enthusiast, passionate about redefining the way we view accessibility and the disabled experience. She has worked alongside numerous organizations to help dismantle access barriers, and in her free time, she likes to share her adventures as a wheelchair user on her Instagram @torihunter.blog
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