Despite the saturated coffee market along Main St. in Vancouver, another café seemed to magically appear overnight in early June: the Forty Ninth Parallel. Located at the corner of 13th Ave. and Main, it was kept a well-hidden secret via temporary walls and scaffolding plastered in graffiti and concert advertisements.
And what an attractive surprise once it was revealed.
The building pays homage to wood and industry, and has an authentic, robust atmosphere, circa fur trading posts in the 19th century. Dark woods mingle with black metal and rust-coloured brick. The ceilings are high with wire light fixtures that dangle from above. One of the eating areas is a long, communal table fitted with seats that swing out on metal arms from underneath. From here, you can watch the pastry chefs hard at work making delicious treats behind tall glass that boasts the name “Lucky’s”, established in 2010. The space is generous, yet cozy.
Things have come full circle, as people become drawn to spaces with a genuine rather than synthetic, or even cheap, feel.
It opened its doors the second weekend in June, and by 9 a.m. Saturday morning, the place was buzzing with customers. Despite the popularity of places such as JJ Bean (located just a block away) and Our Town, people in the Mount Pleasant community were clearly thirsty for something new. Or maybe it was merely the new scene, where hipsters come to be seen; yet, the place was filled with all types of people – the young, the old, families, couples, and singles working on their next novel.
Six months later and the place is still abuzz with animated people sharing stories over rich-tasting coffees, often accompanied by a to-die-for peanut butter and jelly donut, or curiously delicious apple bacon fritter. These are not your typical Tim Horton variety donuts. Forty Ninth Parallel coffee may be expensive, but it is bold and makes no excuses – and they have a feature scone or donut every day that can be paired with a drip coffee for $4. Not terrible considering a specialty beverage at Starbuck’s (whose beans aren’t nearly as sophisticated) runs closer to $5. And to top it all off, the coffee at 49th Parallel is Fair Trade, making it more justifiable as a daily purchase.
The original 49th Parallel (sans Lucky’s Donuts) is located on 4th Ave. in Kitsilano, but is soon moving to a larger location down the street at the corner of Yew and 4th Ave., in what used to be Kitsilano Coffee. This new space will include a Lucky’s Donuts of its own for shoppers, strollers, and runners in Lulu Lemon pants to enjoy.Stay tuned for more information on its grand opening!