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Vancouver's Nemesis Coffee is more friend than foe

A plethora of espresso options and a unique menu set this coffee shop apart.

Roasted Squash Scone and Raspberry Lemon Loaf from Nemesis Coffee.

Abby Wiseman/For Metro

Roasted Squash Scone and Raspberry Lemon Loaf from Nemesis Coffee.

Nemesis coffee can be easily ignored. Indicated by only the symbol of an upside down black heart etched in a neon purple light, the new coffee shop is incognito, but shouldn’t be missed.

This place is a coffee snobs dream, where the cashier runs you through varieties of bean they carry based on the variety, where they are roasted and how challenging it was to import them to Vancouver.

Easily overwhelmed, I asked the cashier to recommend the best one for my cappuccino (Onyx espresso for Arkansas). Nemesis (302 W. Hastings St.) is the collective efforts of several young coffee enthusiasts. I spoke with one of the owners, Cole Trepanier, who said the plan was to offer a variety of beans that are rare and wonderful, create a community through events and offer some really interesting food, which it has already accomplished.

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From sweet to savoury, the selection of food is interesting, well thought-out and – most importantly – beautiful. Actually, beauty comes in second to taste, and everything I tried had that too.

The heirloom grits from Nemesis Coffee.

Abby Wiseman/Metro

The heirloom grits from Nemesis Coffee.

With my cappuccino, which was the perfect balance of bitter and creamy, I had the lemon and raspberry Loaf ($3.25), the roasted squash and goat cheese scone ($4.75) and the heirloom grits ($12).

The squash scone was flaky on the outside, but perfectly soft and moist within. The goat cheese added a bit of saltiness with the mild flavour of the squash. The taste of butter and shallots lingered on the tongue.

The heirloom grits served with roasted Asian mushrooms, charred onions, salsa verde, a poached egg and a boatload of fresh herbs like Italian parsley, basil and mint, finished with a drizzle of oil and saffron.

I love it when chefs are bold with herbs – making them a feature, rather than an afterthought. The grits were the texture of creamy oatmeal (as they should) and acted as a neutral for the bright salsa verde, intense herbal flavours and earthy mushrooms. For the savoury breakfast lovers out there – as I am – this is it. Hearty, healthy, layered in textures and deeply satisfying in flavours.

I rounded up my breakfast with the raspberry lemon loaf. Sweet with a raspberry glaze and topped with a candied lemon, this loaf was once again dense on the outside, yet fluffy within. After the grits it was a bit of a shock of sweetness, but nicely balanced with the sour of the lemon. Washed down with a cappuccino and this makes for an excellent treat.

The space itself is in SFU’s new building across from Victory Square Park and is encased in glass, perfect for people watching. The interior is the wood finished, cement floored, green ivy look coffee shops have adopted across the city, but what sets it apart is its intention to offer something a little more.

Nemesis Coffee at 302 W. Hastings St., across from Victory Square Park.

Abby Wiseman/Metro

Nemesis Coffee at 302 W. Hastings St., across from Victory Square Park.

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