A Perfectly Balanced Mocha During Your Pedal Through the Neighborhood
First of all, I kind of loathe bicycles. But I sure didn’t as a kid in the ‘90s. I was on my bike all day, riding through the ‘hood like an adventure-crazed maniac. But time has poisoned my attitude toward bikes. In my mind, only a masochistic would ride in a city as congested as Vancouver. Yeah, yeah, clearly I’m in the minority, especially at Tandem Bike Cafe. This hidden gem in Vancouver sits along the bike path, perched on the corner of 16th and Heather. Part café, part bike repair shop, Tandem is truly one of a kind. And so is Tandem’s mocha.
The brisk day required a warm coffee and, quite frankly, a strong fix of chocolate. Mochas that I’ve had usually tend to be either on the bitter side or way too sweet. But Tandem Bike Cafe has found the healthy middle ground.
Their mocha leads with the taste of slightly sweet dark chocolate and ends with a touch of bitter espresso.
It’s ridiculously smooth and far from burnt – a common problem with mochas and cooking with dark chocolate in general. Served in an earthy, café-colour-coordinated mug, the mocha comes with a thin layer of crema. The lack of crema design doesn’t irk me in the slightest, as it’s slim and bursts with the luscious chocolatey flavour.
I continued my poor dietary choices with Tandem’s oat fudge bar. Yes, it was a chocolate kind of day. The bar tastes of natural ingredients, almost earthy, and completely homemade. Gooey, sticky fudge balances the chewy oats, which have a slight crunch. The perfectly sweet fudge melts in your mouth like it’s a hot day. Don’t be afraid to eat this bar with your hands. In fact, I recommend it, since the oats tend to break apart when under the pressure of a fork. As for the rest of Tandem’s menu, it’s stellar. From their sandwiches all the way to their fantastic smoothies, everything tastes remarkably fresh.
Established in 2013, Tandem is the first bike café in the city, meaning you can get your bike repaired while you sip on a cup of liquid happiness. This is a down to earth, family-run, neighbourhood haunt, created by incredible bike mechanic (apparently, but I wouldn’t know), Clint John, and café mastermind, Brett Summers. In between serving coffees, Brett chats with the regulars about the soccer game playing above the doorway. All sorts come in: parents picking up their kids from daycare, businessmen, retirees, my physiotherapist whose practice is down the street, and obviously hordes and hordes of cyclists.
The décor is not what I’d usually be attracted to. It’s a storm of bike parts, conflicting colours, peeled paint, scuffed floors, and general clutter. Yet, I love it. There’s something welcoming about it. It’s unpretentious, cozy, and truly northwestern. Neighbours gather here, bike or not, in between the chaos of their day-to-day lives because the café is true to its name. It’s Tandem. It’s togetherness. And it’s one. Now, forgive my corniness and give Tandem Bike Cafe a visit.
Restaurant: Tandem Bike Café
Featured Dish Name: Mocha
Dish Type: Coffee
Available For: All Day
Dish Price: $3.57
Flavour Profile: Sweet
Portion Size: Small