Nemesis Coffee opened this year and made a big splash in the coffee scene immediately. They have a great team of very talented baristas and chefs. The location has lots of foot traffic so it's pretty easy to discover this gem. They're really trying to elevate the coffee scene in Canada. The food menu is pretty serious too. Everything is made in house. The creative mind behind the food menu is Jacob Deacon-Evans who use to work at Wildebeast, West and Bishop's. One of the heroes behind the bar is Cole Trepanier who is also one of the co-owners. He won 1st in the 2014 Canadian Western Barista Championships and placed 6th at the nationals. He was trained by Kyle Straw who won the Canadian National Barista Championship int 2009 and represented Canada at the World Barista Championships in 2010.
Currently Nemesis uses roasted coffee from Five Elephant (Berlin), Slate Roasters (Seattle) and Pilot Coffee (Toronto). They have a rotational selection of coffee beans that you can buy to take home like Onyx Coffee Lab, and Nordic roasters. The take home beans are fairly limited stock from my own experience so be sure to follow them on social media to get a heads up when they have small orders in. I had seen them post the night before they were going to sell bags of Oynx coffee. When I showed up the next morning at 8:15 am there was only 3 bags left and they open at 8!
WHAT WE TRIED:
Coffee Smoked Duck, red eye hoisin waffle | $16
Smashed avocado, ricotta, cilantro & maple syrup toast | $7
Five Elephant Biftu Gudina Ethopia manual pourover | $4.5
Macchiato | $3.5
Cappucino | $3.75
Smores shortbread | $2.95
Classic Chocolate & Sea Salt Cookie | $3.50
Roasted oat, coronation, grape, raison cookie | $3.50
Coffee smoked duck, red eye hoisin waffles is our favourite dish that we have tried. The duck is cooked in three ways, coffee smoked duck breast, pulled duck and crispy rendered duck fat. It served with cucumbers and red eye hoisin on a brussel style waffle. Red eye is a type of drink which is coffee with a shot of espresso. I suspect the hoisin sauce has coffee elements in it but it's not overpowering. The waffle is crisp on the outside yet airy, fluffy and light on the inside.
Smashed avocado, ricotta, cilantro, & maple syrup toast. Added poached egg. Our favourite avocado toast in the city is at Nelson the Seagull and we always compare it back to them. For value, you're getting a better deal here with more types of ingredients but sometimes less is more. Personally I prefer something more simple and traditional with good ole butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and avocado on a tasty slice of bread.
We got a smores shortbread, Five Elephants Machiatto, and Slate Cappuccino. For their espresso drinks, they default to Pilot Anthem. The non-Canadian roasters are a $0.50 premium charge per drink. I went with Five Elephants and Slate because these are two roasters I haven't seen available in Vancouver. Five Elephants is from Berlin, and Slate is from Seattle. They have a really talented team behind the coffee bar but you be the judge! I think it's kind of nice they didn't advertise they have a barista champion behind the bar. The smores shortbread is blow torched per order! Make sure you stand by the cashier if you want to watch or take a photo!
The best part for me is the fact they use Pilot coffee as their standard coffee bean supplier. Pilot is a coffee roasting company from Toronto. In 2014 they won micro roaster of the year from Roast Magazine. I always found it strange shops rarely use Pilot here. Pilot has a special place for me. Each cup brings back memories of being back home in Toronto sitting in a cafe chatting with childhood friends.
Receiving your order is a bit confusing for first time customers. Depending on what you order there are different ways to get it.
If you ordered a baked good, make sure you get it from the cashier. Those aren't delivered to your table. I see a lot of customers pay and walk away to grab a table without waiting for the cashier to get the pastry from the display case.
If you ordered off the kitchen menu, they'll give you a card. The kitchen staff locate you via those cards.
If you ordered a coffee it gets picked up at the coffee bar. I have seen drinks come up at the coffee bar and the barista would look around to figure out who ordered the drink.
Although this is pretty similar to other cafes like Nelson The Seagull where you get your baked good from the cashier, coffee drink at the bar, and kitchen food delivered to you. I think the current setup might confuse new customers but regulars would know the routine. I think they could keep the system the way it is but spend more time to educate new guests where to pick up their order.
If you're a coffee nerd, you can ask if they have the time to give you the TDS reading of your coffee. Also not sure if they'll continue to provide this service. I think the TDS device is more for them to dial in the extraction is correct.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF Nemesis Coffee:
Nemesis Coffee has secured itself as one of my favourite spots for coffee. The food menu is quite unique and props to the chef for using coffee as an ingredient in some of the dishes! It's exciting to see coffee explored in new ways. The presentation on these dishes look beautiful! Just a heads up the prices may turn off some customers.
The one thing I would recommend is being more active on social media with reporting what coffee beans are in stock. In the first 3 weeks, almost every time I came, there was a different bag of coffee to sell. If I hadn't gotten tipped off from someone in the coffee industry that there was a shipment of Onyx arriving, I would have no idea about it! An example would be Revolver's instagram account. Every week they do a post of everything that comes in. I see this in the mornings and make a decision if I want to walk to Gastown for lunch to pick up some beans! If we had a way to know when special stuff comes in that would be great!
If there is anything you love at Nemesis Coffee and think we should try it next time, feel free to contact us!
First time guest may be confused how to get order
Can be difficult to get a table at lunch, lots of campers!
Really fantastic coffee at a great location
Bright space making it a great place to work.
Unique selection of coffee beans not available at other local coffee shops