Photo by Thompson Chan
Some would say that coffee and chocolate go together as perfectly as tea and toast. Visit Vancouver’s East Van Roasters, the city’s only artisan bean-to-bar chocolate maker and coffee roaster, and chances are good you’ll agree.
Located in the city’s Gastown district, this popular shop is owned and operated by the PHS Community Services Society and provides employment and training opportunities for women who are in treatment for addiction and are transitioning from homelessness.
“At East Van Roasters, we provide a lovely, supportive environment for our program participants, with respect at all times,” says the shop’s managing director, Shelley Bolton.
Bolton herself originally trained with award-winning Madre Chocolate in Oahu, Ha., where she volunteered to work for free in order to learn the craft. Two years later, she returned to Vancouver and recruited master roaster Doug Graf and pastry chef/chocolatier Merri Schwartz before opening the shop in April 2013.
East Van Roasters sources and uses organic fair-trade and direct-trade cacao beans and coffee beans, processing and handcrafting them in-house to produce finished bars that boast regional flavours from the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Peru. (The Pink Peppercorn Bar is an ode to Bolton’s time spent training at Madre Chocolate.) Along with the chocolate, East Van Roasters serves fair-trade, organically grown coffees, made from beans roasted on site.
The shop is a hit with locals and with many of Vancouver’s top chefs, who source the chocolate for their own desserts. Coveted beans, indeed.