Read the rest of Ton-Ton's Journey: Vancouver 2007.)
When you think of Asians, do you think of coffee? Probably not. The regions that come to mind are most likely Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Even the United States has a place on the coffee map as the home of Starbucks, the largest corporate coffee chain in the world. Yet, Taiwan has developed its own take on coffee and cafes that is every bit as refined.
Until Cat and I stumbled across La Cuisson in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, I had no idea that Taiwanese coffee cafes had arrived in North America. Although the Taiwanese Bubble Tea craze successfully swept the continent in the late 1990's, the United States had cafe traditions of its own too firmly entrenched at that point to make Taiwanese cafes viable. Who could compete with Starbucks, Peet's, Dietrich's, and Seattle's Best (all now owned by Starbucks)?
(Trying to blend in.)
Since Cat had never been to a Taiwanese cafe, we decided to have a light dinner. In addition to freshly brewed coffee, La Cuisson also offers other hot beverages, cookies, panini, and desserts. Like bubble tea shops, they have a startling number of snack and dining options.
For her beverage, Cat decided on a rich cup of Hot Chocolate to ward off the chill Canadian night. Made with frothed milk, it was artfully presented with a chocolate treble clef.
She also ordered a Maple Waffle as a salute to Canada, and since she likes waffles. Her confection was crisp and airy, and the maple syrup that accompanied it was unsurprisingly top notch.
A self-admitted coffee snob, I was there for coffee and coffee I would have. In addition to a good selection of quality beans, what I really liked about La Cuisson's menu was the detailed Chinese and English descriptions explaining the origin and flavor profile of each coffee offered. I also liked how each individual order was ground and prepared using the method that best suited it. The attention to detail showed me how serious La Cuisson is about providing quality coffee.
The Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee caught my eye for both its $15 CAD price tag and eloquently worded description. According to the menu (typos and all):
"The original Blue Mountain coffee bean is origin from Wallenford Estate, Jamaica. Since it is rarely produced, its price tends to be higher than most other coffee beans, and this is why many coffee shops do not offer this extraordinary coffee bean. Blue Mountain Blend in our store is mixed according to the characteristics from the original Blue Mountain coffee bean: the body of sweetness and aroma with a hint of bright acidity. This blend is great for coffee-lovers to experience and enjoy."
It was, simply put, the best cup of coffee I'd ever had. Would I have it again? Maybe on special occasions or to celebrate something. $15 CAD is a very steep price. I'm fairly sure nothing on the Starbucks menu even comes close in either quality or price.
To compliment the coffee, I had a Crème Caramel, a decadent pillow of custard shrouded in warm caramel sauce. It had just the right amount of sweetness to offset the mellow sharpness of my Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.
Ton-Ton decided to have Cookies, which he generously shared with us. $2.95 CAD got him a plate of six biscuits. There were delicate maple pecan shortbread cookies that melted away in the mouth, chewy pecan tartlets redolent with the aroma of caramel, and sugar cookies perfect in their simplicity. It, like La Cuisson, was meant to be experienced with friends.
La Cuisson - A great place for coffee and dessert, or for a light dinner. I hope something similar opens up down here in Southern California.
Bill (in Canadian dollars):
Hot Chocolate - 3.50
Maple Waffle - 4.95
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee - 15.00
Crème Caramel - 4.00
Cookies - 2.95
8368 Capstan Way, Unit #1326
Richmond, BC V6X