Top Five Coffee Stops
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Victoria, cycling, and coffee, it’s that there are as many wonderful coffee shops as there are cycling clubs in town—and everyone has his or her own preference.
What you’re about to read is purely my opinion, and I know there are plenty of coffee shops which should be included and could be included. And this is only from the perspective of cycling, and from the perspective of a group which has its coffee break mid-ride, and only those shops where I’ve actually sampled the wares. While some of us do things like ride to Ladysmith for a Tim Horton’s (you know who you are), I’ve tried to include shops from Victoria and surrounding areas, for those mere mortals for whom a 150km ride for a cup of joe isn’t really gonna happen.
In no particular order …
2% Jazz Coffee
I’ve been drinking coffee from this shop since 1997 when owner Sam worked out of a tiny outdoor kiosk located to the Times Colonist building. Sam made me the best latte I ever had, and I’ve been a fan ever since. After battling the elements for years, they opened an indoor café mere feet from their original location (105 – 740 Hillside Avenue, next door to Long & McQuade. That should get your attention, Bill Chimko). They later expanded into a full-service location in the Hudson (1701 Douglas Street at Fisgard), which also houses the company’s roastery. This is the location we most often visit.
The staff are always friendly and welcoming, and they have a wonderful selection of vegan and gluten-free options, including almond milk and soy milk. They offer lovely baked goods, and really delicious homemade soup. Seating options include a long table with swivelling seats and several smaller tables. There isn’t a lot of room outside for bikes, so we mostly end up leaning them against the benches, two or three bikes deep. We most often stop here in the fall/winter/early spring, usually at the end of our ride; there is not a lot of space outside to sit.
Address: 1701 Douglas Street (in The Hudson) | 105 – 740 Hillside Avenue
The Nest Cafe
The Nest opened a couple years ago, and has become a popular stop for cyclists, walkers, runners and neighbours where the Galloping Goose Trail meets Watkiss Way and Burnside Road.
This location is extremely welcoming to cyclists, and perhaps especially triathletes, with ‘hang your bike here’ racks that look like a great spot to set up a slow transition. (And I know something about slow transitions.) The racks are different heights to accommodate a wide range of bicycles. It has a great outdoor patio with a wonderful view of the Goose. The café is doggy friendly, even providing clips on the railings for leashes, and bowls for water. They have blankets inside that you can take outside in cooler weather, which is quite nice if you’re a bit chilled.
The Nest Café offers a good selection of baked delicacies, coffee, tea and smoothie options—some clearly named for cyclists (‘High Gear’, ‘Sprocket Rocket’ and ‘Krank it Up’). It also has a bike maintenance station including tools and air, in case you need a quick fix en route. All in all, a lovely spot to stop, especially on a summer’s day.
Mosi’s is one of our most favourite stops—and the stop at which we are most likely to leave someone behind. As we say, “You haven’t really arrived until you’ve been left.” Sorry, Don and Raymond. Really. No, really.
This charming coffee shop, located on West Saanich Road at Prospect Lake Road, is owned by Stefano and Melissa Mosi, founders of the original La Collina Bakery on Cedar Hill Road, which started in 1997. Stefano and Melissa moved to Maui, Hawaii in 2007, bringing the first gelato store to that island. In May 2014, they sold their businesses and moved back to Victoria. Their newest venture, on West Saanich Road, incorporates all their experiences, offering gelato, a bakery, coffee, breakfast and lunch.
Their bakery is exceptional, the coffee rich and delicious. It’s a cyclist’s favourite combination, and if you think the calories are too much, you can always do a few pre-emptive Willis Point or Observatory hill repeats. Think: cinnamon buns, pecan rolls, sausage rolls, and other delicious temptations.
Helpful hint: some time when you’re not cycling, get one of the take-and-bake pizzas. They are delicious!!!
The Stick in the Mud
‘The Stick’, as it is familiarly known, opened on 07/07/07, at 7 (presumably in the morning, though the website is mute on this point). It’s located in downtown Sooke, and is a great stop whether Sooke is your destination or you’re just passing through en route to the torturous Shirley hill—or further. They have stellar coffee, and delicious goods baked on site.
The Stick was never intended to be a bakery, but they couldn’t find what they wanted locally. So they bought an oven and got down to it. They offer a full range of goodies from muffins, cookies, squares and all manner of treats, to heartier fare such as soups, sandwiches, and some marvellous concoction called The Egg-a-ma-jig.
The Stick offers gluten-free and dairy-free products, but, as their website says, “… mostly we do delicious.” The Stick avoids GMOs, uses butter, organic milk, and local free range eggs from organically fed chickens.
The Stick now offers three locations in Sooke: if you’re headed out that way, be sure to stop in and refuel. It’s worth it!
Address: The Grand Trunk, 6715 Eustace Road; SpeedStick (next to the Grand Trunk); and, The New Branch in the Prestige Hotel (seasonal, Victoria Day to Thanksgiving), 6929 West Coast Road
Georgia Café and Deli at the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa
This lovely spot is a perfect mid-point ride when headed to Sidney and back. Summer or winter, there is a welcoming atmosphere that is fragrant with ‘made-to-order barista love’. It is attached to the spectacular Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa, perched on the edge of Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula. The coffee is wonderful, and while the inside is small, outside there are plentiful seating areas to the front and side of the café. The Georgia has a wide selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options in addition to their usual fare of muffins, scones and pastries, breakfast sandwiches, grilled wraps and fresh salads – all made on site.
It must be said that there are so many more options, and I know of some of these, but have not had the pleasure of testing them myself, so for the purposes of this Top Five list, I cannot give a first-hand account. But I know many of you enjoy these spots so:
Fol Epi Bakery Dockside
I hear this is a really good spot for an end-of-ride coffee and treat – with a bit of eye-candy next door. Bikes! I mean bikes!
Address: 101 – 398 Harbour Road
Phone: (250) 477-8882
We often stop here on a shorter, winter ride. Seating inside is a bit limited, but the curio shops are good fun. There are good bathrooms here too (stay tuned for the ‘Top Five Places to Pee’ article which may or may not happen, though it logically follows coffee like Mary’s little lamb follows her). Seating outside is adequate, but large groups may find it tight, and the progress of patrons along the walk is sometimes hampered by the presence of coffee-swilling cyclists.
Address: 5325 Cordova Bay Road
Phone: (250) 658-4700
Harvest Road Farm to Table Grill
Located at Michell’s Farm on Island View Road in Saanichton, this spot offers amazing burgers and food options, but coffee service is limited to the brewed variety. It is seasonal, but hopping busy when it’s open. There is no covered seating, so if it’s raining … you’ll have your choice of tables.
Address: 2451 Island View Road
Phone: Yeah, not so much. Michell’s Farm Market phone: (250) 652-6770
Coffee and cycling, cycling and coffee. Not all of us take our caffeine along with us (unlike Bicycle Dave), and a break to catch up on conversation (because we have stopped panting to keep up with Wendy Garret) is always a good part of any ride. Enjoy!!
Written by Connie Dunwoody