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FOOD + DRINK
East Van Roasters
Bean-to-bar (and cup) chocolates and coffees with a social mission in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside
by Hans Aschim
on 17 April 2014
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Just a short walk from Vancouver, BC's historic Gastown neighborhood lies East Van Roasters. Situated in the city's Downtown Eastside neighborhood, the airy facility fills the surrounding blocks with a nutty, toasted scent. The recently opened non-profit roaster buys fair trade coffee beans and cacao from around the world, then takes them from raw commodity to craft product. "Sourcing directly from organic farms, the cacao beans used in the shop are roasted, hand-winnowed, ground, conched, tempered and molded behind glass for all visitors to experience," says Managing Director Shelley Bolton. Located in the Rainier Hotel—a facility providing treatment for addiction for marginalized women—East Van Roasters provides employment and skill-building for women making the transition back into the workforce. "We offer opportunities that are life-altering and lasting by providing a compassionate and dignified work environment," Bolton adds.

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Even with the large amount of social good on the to-do list, product quality still comes first at East Van Roasters. Skilled roasters and chocolatiers pay attention to detail, and are commitment to their balanced roasts. The house espresso blend is rich and smoky without being bitter. Meanwhile, the single-origin chocolates each have their own bold, unique character depending on the batch and place of origin—ranging in flavor from herbal and fruity to deep notes of balsamic vinegar. Bolton strives for local ingredients whenever possible, and because of this it's not uncommon for the menu of sweet treats to change daily—with bars paired with fruits from the nearby Okanagan Valley.

If in Vancouver, be sure to stop by East Van Roasters for an house-roasted treat and keep an eye on their website for new products and updates.

Photos by Hans Aschim

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