Many local cafes carefully source coffee beans and invest in expensive equipment to brew the perfect cup of coffee. These meticulously composed drinks deserve to be accompanied by a quality pastry. Here are a few cafes with the ideal mix of great cafes and on-site bakeries.
5301 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver; 360-694-7500; river-maiden.business.site
Riven Maiden’s move in 2018 to its current location in a former bank building provided space for cooking. The store’s recipes are developed through a process of trial and error. Each new pastry is tasted by the staff.
“When you’re the only person tasting it, it can be too much for your needs,” owner Melissa Layman said.
The goal is to create something to appeal to a wide range of customers. Using this method, recipes are often modified to include less sugar.
“So many pastries are really sweet. We prefer richness and flavor,” Layman said.
This low sugar content does not translate into baked goods that taste too healthy. River Maiden’s huge crispy rice treats (called ROUS, a tribute to “The Princess Bride”) are prepared in a large pan filled with a generous amount of marshmallows and browned butter.
“Who wants a little crispy rice treat?” says Laic.
River Maiden’s cookies, scones and specialties all exude that mix of fun and decadence. Fortunately, the building still has space to develop the bakery business. The owners plan to add homemade ciabatta for the breakfast sandwiches. They also plan to offer more seasonal items and quick breads.
My personal favorites at River Maiden are the marionberry scone ($4) with berries from Columbia Fruit and the Walker Texas Ranger Seasonal Cookie ($2.50), a mix of coconut, butterscotch chips, oats and rice cereal. The ranger cookie always cracks me up because it looks like Chuck Norris’ chest hair of “Walker, Texas Ranger” fame. This cookie comes back to the store in three to four weeks.
104 Grand Boulevard, Vancouver; 360-258-0571; thatchers-coffee.square.site
Jamie Erdman, owner of Thatcher’s Coffee, has always wanted to have freshly made treats in his Grand Central shop. She loves the sensory experience that the aroma of baking granola or chocolate chip cookies gives customers.
Erdman was never interested in becoming a coffee roaster, but she tries hard to find good coffee at places like Roseline Coffee and Heart Coffee Roasters. She wants the quality of the pastries in her shop to be equal to the quality of the coffee she serves.
Thatcher’s Coffee has always baked one-third to one-half of the items in the baking crate. The pandemic has, however, brought about changes. One of Thatcher’s suppliers stopped delivering to Vancouver. Additionally, Head Baker Sarah Sullivan has been creating new baked goods over the past two years. As a result, Thatcher’s is currently cooking everything on site.
Erdman is interested in expanding her baking program to add more savory items, but space is limited. Everything at the shop is cooked in a convection oven on the coffee bar. Baking ingredients are stored in a mini fridge near the oven.
Despite this limited space and equipment, the bakery box is still filled with scrumptious treats like Earl Gray Shortbread with Citrus Buttercream ($3.75), Banana Bread ($3.25) and Chocolate Scones. rosemary and walnuts ($4).
Gourmet Coffee from Kafiex Roasters
100 Waterfront Road, Vancouver; kafiex.com
Kafiex’s Gastro Cafe at Waterfront Vancouver offers something owners Matthew and Seidy Selivanow don’t have in their Esther Short Park Coffee Lab: a space to cook. Selivanows’ Waterfront spot is the only spot on this list that offers on-site roasted coffee as well as homemade pastries.
Every day, the large pastry case in the café-bar is filled with baked goods. Prices range from $3.50 to $8 for items such as almond croissants, lemon glazed Bundt cakes topped with candied lemon slices, and orange brownies topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa powder .
It’s the perfect place to sip an espresso and munch on an early morning croissant while admiring the Columbia River and cars crossing the Interstate 5 bridge.