Compass Coffee – 1304 Main Street, Vancouver, WA
- Espresso: ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ~
- Cycle accommodations: ~ Good, Observable, Some under cover
- Cafe setting: ~ Well proportioned, Good Daylight, neighborly
- Interior seating: ~ Variety of options
- Exterior seating: ~ Available & Covered
- Pastry selection:~ Good Selection, homemade
This is the third in a series of trips made to Vancouver WA over the past months. Driving up and down Main St. we passed by Compass Coffee and knew that we had to make it a destination on the next visit. The third time was a charm, and we paid a visit on a quiet Sunday morning.
Housed in a small single story brick building with a cedar shingle roof, Compass makes a quiet unassuming presence from the street. Cafe tables are set out under the roof eve for dry cover in inclement weather. The sidewalks are broad enough to allow the tables to pull out beyond the eve to capture some sun when it is out. Bike parking opportunities are plentiful and easily observable from the interior.
The proportions of the layout inside are very good with a square seating area hosting a number choices from couches and cafe tables, to a high seat at the espresso bar. A large slab of natural timber formed the bar top and was the feature element of the space; the barista was the craftsman of the piece. We were drawn to the timber and could not resist taking a seat at the bar. Two cold drip brewing towers are the center piece of the back bar. A dramatic progression from the top decanter, down a spiral of glass distiller coils, and finally landing in the carafe is the journey the slow cold brewed coffee takes. They were not in action today but we would love to see them at play. When the weather warms up a bit more they will start up again to produce this highly concentrated and potent brew.
The pastry selections were one of a kind home baked goodies. The assortment was modest and provided an appropriate variety of selection. The savory biscuit called to us and we obediently ordered it. Compass Coffee is a roasterie and serves their own creations. Delirium is the go to espresso blend and Neryi Gaturiri a Kenyan peaberry was the single origin served. “Coffee is Culinary” is Compass Coffee’s mission statement. Living up to the mission you can choose to have your coffee brewed in the method of your choosing.
Being warmly welcomed to the espresso bar we were made comfortable. Four or five people were in the cafe and a friendly couple visiting from the Tri-cities region of Washington State were at the cash register enjoying and providing some conversation. Familiar banter was at play between the locals and assumed regulars. Feeling right at home, the conversation was easily entered into. Straight away, the impression of being a regular at the cafe rested upon you. Yesterday evening, the first ever game night was held and it apparently went on late into the night and is now under consideration to become a regular event at the cafe. The levity of the morning continued and we learned the flowering business plan of a young woman who was sitting at the bar; sworn to secrecy, no more can be said about it. For the record we vote for the longer and more poetic name, should the dream become a reality. Brian the barista and part owner, demonstrated a knowledge and passion for his craft and educated us about the characteristics of the roasts being offered. Delirium blend was our roast of choice to start with. Directly after placing the espresso order we were served a traditional soda water prior to any other preparations beginning. He was very intentional, concentrated, and precise with his methods. Accompanied with a saucer and spoon, the cup was born swiftly to us, clean of spatter or smudge. The crema was consistent with a reddish hue. The aroma was warm and pleasantly foretold of the flavor. The texture of the sips were rich and flowed wonderfully across the palette; delivering a progression of flavor that culminated with a sweetness and hints of cocoa flavor. We tried the Gaturiri next, and of the two, we preferred the Delirium roast for an espresso.
Compass Coffee, we give you a five out of five wheel rating for our espresso experience with you. The quality of preparation, adherence to tradition, appropriate priority to craft, and a proper presentation was warmly received. We enjoyed the fun and friendly atmosphere provided by the barista, and that played directly through to the customers. Continue the great work and we will definitely make a stop again.
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*Paradoxical footnote: All the cafes we spend time to write about we recommend as destinations. We provide the honest feedback and rating of the espresso experience because we are interested to help cultivate the best success for future visits. Even though we may give the espresso experience a one wheel rating we can still love and recommend a visit to the cafe because of the overall character of place, amongst other qualities.
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