Opened late last month by former clothing buyer and amateur cycling enthusiast, Thomas Eleizegui, Musette Caffè, the city’s first cycling-themed café, is a shrine to European biking culture, from the vintage jerseys and “musettes” (bags used to feed racers and, incidentally, where the café took its name) on the walls, to the mint-condition Bianchi 10-speed hanging in pride-of-place. In fact, the iconic Italian bike-maker’s signature shade of Celeste green is a central theme, mirrored in the coffee cups and saucers, on the DIY cash register fastened to the counter by a pair of handlebars and, especially, in the La Marzocco espresso machine on the counter.
While Eleizegui’s grand plan to bring together coffee and cycling, two of the city’s great passions, is off to a rolling start, adding a third Vancouver obsession to the mix (real estate deals) may prove to be the real winner. Like an unlocked bike, the place is a steal.
Hidden in the alley between a bustling Burrard St. and Jimmy Pattison’s Downtown Toyota Dealership, the simple, raw-wood framed window overlooking the Hornby Street bike lane is the only thing distinguishing the nondescript warehouse-like building from the uniformly bland back doors that surround it. Knowing that it sits on ground zero of the upcoming Burrard Gateway mega-development, Eleizegui signed a sweetheart three-year lease and fitted out the café’s interior with fixtures that can be taken to its next location when the time comes. Until then, the unfinished floors are cleat-friendly with a few rainy-day indoor parking spots, the tables are functional antique wood and the foosball table in the back under the flatscreens running Tour de France highlights is free.
Behind the counter, the coffee is local roaster, 49th Parallel’s, with a wealth of bike-friendly, one-hand-only paninis and pastries — many gluten-free thanks to Cloud 9, the city’s newest (and some say best) specialty bakery — as well as raw energy bars created by manager/nutritionist/Trek Red Truck Racing Team member, Dave Vukets.
With summer finally threatening to arrive, a new communal bike rack has been installed by the entrance, with a closed-circuit camera feeding security footage to a screen inside. Complimentary bike locks are also available.
In the alley behind 1262 Burrard St., 604-336-1159
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Image courtesy of Musette Caffè.