Visitors to the Island and residents can now follow online trails to some fine daily grinds instead of just following their noses to good cups of coffee.
Josh Gillingham, of Nanaimo, has set up the Vancouver Island Coffee Tour, a website that lists dozens of independent coffee roasters across the Island and Gulf Islands. The website directs users where to go and even reviews the brews.
Gillingham said he never was a big coffee drinker until COVID came along, but over the last couple of years he’s gotten into coffee in a big way.
“I really got interested in where it’s being sourced from, origins, different brewing methods, extraction methods, that sort of thing,” Gillingham said.
His research lead him to discover about 50 independent coffee brewers from Victoria to Port Hardy and just about every community in between.
“A few of the ones that first inspired were French Press [Coffee Roasters] in Qualicum, [which] is great and you’ve got Fernwood [Coffee Company] down in Victoria and it was just kind of an idle thought, ‘I wonder how many coffee roasters there are, just out of interest?’ and I started looking them up and I started finding more and more and more,” Gillingham said.
With so many establishments grinding daily, Gillingham realized knowing where to find the best cuppa joe could be part of any coffee lover’s travel itinerary.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could just create a little map where, if you’re going to the north Island or going out to Sooke or Gabriola, is there any local coffee?” Gillingham said. “So that’s kind of where it started and it spun out from there.”
Gillingham’s coffee tour website notes that the “Vancouver Island Coffee Tour is a treasure map of sorts, a self-guided quest for seekers of flavour and meaning. Here you may discover cups of bliss in your local community that you never knew existed.”
The site is live and active, if basic, Gillingham said, but he’s adding more features in the run-up to its official launch over the Victoria Day long weekend, May 21-23. It already offers tips for better brewing at home, reviews of featured local roasts and interviews with coffee roasters. He also plans to launch a quarterly coffee publication to highlight new roasteries to hopefully bridge the Island’s coffee community.
“I’ve got a few contributors working on articles for the site … The primary goal of the website is to get people to discover local coffee roasters in their community, but I also want to provide some supports [for] people who are interested in coffee, want to get into coffee,” Gillingham said. “For example, I did an article on three ways to brew coffee on the beach. A lot of people just take instant coffee on camping trips because it’s easier, but you don’t need to much equipment and if you know what you’re doing or have some helpful tips, you can actually brew a really good cup of coffee and, let me tell you, there’s nothing like waking in a place like Mystic Beach and having this really perfectly brewed cup of coffee as the sun rises. It’s a Vancouver Island experience that people who travel here should really have.”
To learn more, visit www.vicoffeetour.com.