Drink handcrafted coffee in style at Torque
photo by annie becker
In the newest chapter of downtown Vancouver’s continued revitalization, a local entrepreneur has turned a former tile factory at the city’s southern edge into a popular coffee house and gathering place. Torque Coffee Roasters embraces the rough, industrial quality of the space, which was an auto shop for years, and creates a welcoming, urban space unlike any other coffee shop in Vancouver.
Owner Ryan Palmer has a long history in the coffee business, with 14 years of experience with companies large and small, all over the country. Most recently, he owned and ran Meriwether’s Cafe, inside Vancouver’s Firstenburg Community Center. With Torque, he’s taken it another step. The lofty space is open and very hip, with plenty of reused tables and chairs or a coffee bar to sit at, and an urban patio decorated with one of the ubiquitous Vancouver murals. The coffee house, he emphasizes, is bike-friendly and dog-friendly – you can bring both inside.
The shop currently serves Coava Coffee at the bar, though he plans to begin roasting his own beans in the near future with the large roaster sitting in the corner. He also serves and will soon be certified to bottle cold-brew coffee. “We try to make our own syrups, chocolate, chai, all of it, in-house,” he says. “We also make our own tea and have a filtering system we developed ourselves. You get a fully-brewed cup of tea, not a little bag or some floaty stuff in your cup.”
Coffee is the focus at Torque – you won’t get a meal here. But incredible baked goods come from Portland’s Bake Shop, run by James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Kim Boyce. And he supports local food vendors by inviting them to set up outside, aiming “to have food carts or trucks here most days of the week.”
“We’re quality-focused above anything else,” says Palmer. Between himself and his six employees, “We’ve got about 45 years of experience behind our bar. A lot of us are former competitors in the U.S. Barista Competition – we have a different level of expertise than most people are used to.” That said, he also insists that you won’t get attitude from behind the bar. “We take the newer, fancier places that have popped up with a ‘No, we won’t DO that’ attitude, and we turn it around. Try it our way first. And if you don’t like it? We’ll do it your way.”