While travelling in Kenya, teatime became one of our favourite activities. Whether we were at our hotel in Nairobi on a cloudy day or watching hippos by the Mara River under the blazing hot sun, the locals always offered us a cup of tea. We have had our share of tea around the world, but there was something about Kenya's tea that made even the most loyal coffee drinker (Will) start drinking tea.

When we returned to Vancouver we searched everywhere for a tea that tasted like what we had in Kenya. After trying (what seemed like) a hundred different types of tea, we came across JusTea, a Vancouver owned company that prides itself on selling justly made Kenyan tea.  

JusTea started in 2012 when Vancouverite Grayson Bain travelled from Vancouver to Kenya in search of local entrepreneurs with businesses that were benefitting their immediate community. While in southwestern Kenya, he formed an instant connection with tea farmers in the Nandi Hills community. Grayson and his son Paul saw an opportunity to empower these tea farmers by creating a market to sell their tea leaves at a price that supported the needs of the community. Although Kenya is the world's largest exporter of tea, accounting for approximately 95% of the world's tea production, the farmers and pluckers working the tea fields and picking the leaves for buyers receive 20-30 cents a day. 

The Bains' partnered with Boaz Katah and his family from Nandi Hills. The Katah family was granted a 'Cottage Factory License' from the Tea Board of Kenya, allowing them to process their tea on site rather than selling the green tea leaves to a large corporation at unfair prices.  The 'cottage' nature of their processing plant means much of the work is done by hand or very simple machines in a small building. Unlike larger tea processing plants that cut and tear the tea leaves, the 'cottage' process maintains the whole leaf creating a richer and fuller flavour. JusTea currently employs 8 tea workers at the tea cottage, 30 people to hand-pluck leaves in the garden, and over 10 small-scale tea growers. They are committed to paying sustainable wages and investing in these rural communities.

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As anyone with a sweet tooth can attest, finding a good location for dessert that caters to every mood and craving can seem like an impossible task. Unless you've discovered Thierry. 

Thierry, by award winning pastry chef Thierry Busset, is part chocolaterie, part patisserie, and part café. It serves hand crafted chocolates, macaroons, pastries, and desserts, all of which have seasonal options. You could spend hours perusing the counter, looking at all the delicious cakes and the rainbow assortment of macaroons. The only thing stopping you will be the impatient line up behind you - this place is popular!

The interior of the café matches the luxury of the Alberni shopping strip on which Thierry resides. With curved, palmwood walls, Thonet brentwood café chairs, and a heated outdoor patio, you may never want to leave!

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From the clean,contemporary interiors of the café (wood table + black pendant lights = the perfect combination), to the perfectly roasted coffee beans, Moja Coffee has it all. It's even in the running for the city's best chocolate croissant in our opinion.

Moja was started by Doug Finlay and Andrew Wentzel, who taught themselves to roast beans in the basement of their North Vancouver home in 2003. The name moja comes from the Swahili word for "one", which represents their belief in offering single origin beans. In 2008, the pair opened their first café and roasting operation in North Vancouver on Rupert Street. They subsequently opened a second café on Commercial Drive, and we are sue glad they did! 

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In a neighbourhood otherwise devoid of independent cafes, Gigi Blin is a welcome sight.  Owners Mark and Iwona named the café after Mark's great grandfather, Gigi Blin. The café has been providing Marpole with coffee, baked goods, and artisanal groceries since opening its doors in June 2015.  

Despite its newness, Gigi Blin looks and feels like it has been the beating heart of the neighbourhood for decades. That feeling is due in part to its location in a historic building, but is further fostered by the warmth of the reclaimed wood interiors and the large windows that allow a glimpse inside. On the other side of the glass, those windows also allow for endless hours of people watching while enjoying delicious latte after latte. With baked goods from Baguette and Co., there's really no reason to leave.

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In a city renowned for its love of bicycles and coffee, Musette Caffè must be the most quintessentially "Vancouver" caffè around.

Named after the small bags used to pass meals to bicyclists during a bike race, Musette has married bicycling and coffee at its two downtown locations. As you may have already assumed, both locations are adorned with bicycle paraphernalia, from the various parts of bicycles and outfits hanging on the walls and from the ceilings, to the chandeliers made of old bike wheels. And, as you may have also already assumed, Mussette is also a caffè. 

What you didn't probably didn't assume was the level to which Musette has joined bikes and coffee - to the point that you can literally ride your bike into the caffè and order while your shoes are still clipped into the pedals. 

Looking around either location, there's usually at least one group wearing spandex, sometimes even a few people whose bikes are so loved (read: expensive) they join their owners inside. But there are also a healthy contingent of "regular" people who just want a good cup of  Forty Ninth Parallel coffee or a pastry.

If you're intrigued by the city's love of bikes and coffee, Musette invites riders of all abilities to their weekly group rides, which leave from the Burrard Street location every Saturday at 8:30am.

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Bump N Grind Café is a real crowd pleaser. It's the type of place you could take everyone from a coffee aficionado to someone who just wants a really good cookie.

For the coffee lover, Bump N Grind really knows its stuff. With French Press, Clover, Aero Press and espresso on offer, it has just about everything you could want. Combine that with the rotating list of local coffee roasters available (including Matchstick, Timbertrain, Fernwood, and Bows & Arrows) and the options are infinite. 

And for the person who just wants a really good cookie, Bump & Grind has you covered. Not only is there a case filled with cookies, scones, croissants, and biscotti, there are also gluten-free options available. And if you're looking for something more substantial, there's a breakfast / lunch menu, too.

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If running a successful café is an art, Liberty Bakery takes the cake.

Liberty Bakery was originally established by  Swedish baker named Gunnar Gustafson and his wife, Liberty, as a 20-year long retirement project. In June of last year, artist Shannon Skansen, musician and photographer Scott Livingstone, and artist Rodney Graham took over the coffee shop, allowing Gunnar and his wife to enjoy their re-retirement. The trio renovated the space, giving it their own personal touch with tables designed by Livingstone and signage designed by Graham.

The artist touch can be seen in the baking, too - from gingerbread cookies shaped like Totoro (the cartoon character), to the chocolate cream puffs that look like oysters, to the sprinkle cookies probably modelled after a Pollock painting. And although we (clearly) have a sweet tooth, Liberty Bakery also offers beautifully (read: artistically) prepared salads, soups, and sandwiches. 

It's impossible to recommend only one thing from Liberty Bakery but we highly suggest accompanying any drink with a baked good. And if you eat it there, you will probably be able to feel yourself becoming more cultured as you are surrounded by the artistry of its three owners.

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Trying to find a seat in this tiny bakery and café off Fir Street is almost as difficult as trying to choose only one thing from the display of French-inspired pastries and baked goods. It's easy to understand why people flock to Beaucoup - with an extensive menu of nibbles (six different croissants alone!), Bellocq Tea from Brooklyn, and Forty-Ninth Parallel Coffee, the café has all the ingredients for an afternoon coffee with your in-laws, to discuss weekend plans with friends, or to spend time alone imagining you are in Paris. And when it's not raining, there is ample seating at the park across the street.

Beaucoup was started by Jackie Kai Ellis, a designer turned pastry-chef. Jackie studied the art of French baking at Paris Ecole Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil before returning to Vancouver in 2012 to open Beaucoup. Since opening, Beaucoup has won several awards and continues to be touted as a "must visit" in the big travel guides.

You can't go wrong with one of the croissants, but we usually bee-line for the peanut butter sandwich cookie and the Earl Grey financier (paired with an espresso and Earl Grey tea of course). Bonne appetite mes amis!

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Now considered part of the Kitsilano neighbourhood, this quaint little café was once considered part of the Delamont Park area. The building was constructed in 1907 and was the home of Eureka Grocery, owned and operated by Thomas Frazer. The grocery store later became Arbutus Grocery Store, and is now Arbutus Coffee. Many of the building's original heritage features remain, including the fenestration and corner entry. It was named as one of the Places That Matter by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation in 2012 for its importance to the city.

Like the shops before it, Arbutus Coffee remains a neighbourhood favourite. All their pastries and dishes are made in house, and coffee comes from North Vancouver's Bean Around the World. The café's character and its charm make it worth a visit for breakfast, lunch, or coffee (or tea)!

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