There's a debate raging across Vancouver at the moment, brought on by the ongoing summer heat: soft-serve or hard-serve ice-cream? 

If you've never been to Soft Peaks in Gastown, you may not be fully equipped to answer this question. You might think that soft-serve is something sold out of a machine at fast-food establishments. Thanks to brothers Dan and Ken Kim, Vancouver can enjoy soft-serve as it should be. At Soft Peaks, the soft serve is made from local Avalon organic milk, organic cream, organic milk powder, and organic stabilizers or emulsifiers. They also use dextrose instead of genetically modified sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup. This results in a "twist on milk" that generally is lower in fat than hard-serve ice cream, and often tastes creamier thanks to the air that is introduced at freezing. Add some amazing toppings, like local Okanagan and Fraser River honeycomb, and you have yourself a serious competitor to the traditional hard-serve ice cream.

We highly recommend their signature flavour, Honeycomb Peak, which is topped with a wedge of honeycomb. Alternatively, try to Mudslide - you can't go wrong with Tim Tam flakes and chocolate syrup.

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Just like its name, The Birds & The Beets combines the familiar with the unexpected, creating a refreshingly unique coffee experience. Instead of the traditional model of coffee and baked goods, The Birds & The Beets focuses on local and house-made items prepared behind the counter - turkey is sourced from the Abbotsford's Rossdown Farms, pork comes from Chilliwack’s Johnston’s Farms, and the whole-grain granola and baked goods are made in house.

That’s not to say the same amount of care is not taken with the caffeine (this is Vancouver, after all). The coffee is from Victoria roasters, Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters, and the local Matchstick Coffee Roasters. The tea is from Main Street’s Cultivate Tea Brew Bar.

The simple (but delicious) menu is on the wall behind the counter off the Powell Street entrance. If you aren’t pleasantly surprised by the personable, friendly staff when you walk in, you will certainly notice the café’s décor, which fits perfectly with its charm. The exposed old brick walls contrast the new white walls and millwork. Flowers and succulents adorn every nook and cranny, adding to its familiarity and unexpectedness.

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Life moves fast. Everything seems rushed under the guise of convenience and efficiency, though too often time is not being taken to do the job right. Revolver, however, believes in taking the time to craft the perfect cup of coffee. Apparently, that takes exactly four minutes. Each cup is brewed in its own glass chemex decanter, with its own timer. The precision pays off with delicious coffee that tastes like it's supposed to. 

Revolver offers a rotating cast of small roasters from around the world and the day's offerings are posted on their website. Regulars include Ritual from San Francisco and Anchored from Nova Scotia, though Revolver offers a special every day if you would rather leave the decision-making to someone else. A limited selection of baked goods are also available and make for a tasty snack. If you are lucky enough to be visiting in the summer, order one of the cold brews - it's perfection for any coffee lover.

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If you've ever wanted to walk into a Kinfolk spread, look no further.

Old Faithful stocks its shelves with supplies that are tried, tested and true. Calling itself "Your Modern Day General Store", it provides Vancouverites with an array of quality, vintage-inspired homewares for everyday living. From denim aprons to marble cheeseboards, these items are designed to last. Co-owners Walter Manning and Savannah Olsen were inspired by Manning's grandparents' shops in Newfoundland, which acted not only as a general store, but also as a gathering place - a one-stop shop for all the community's needs.

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