Caffe Artigiano Yaletown, Vancouver

After lunch, we walked around the neighbourhood to look for a place for coffee. We walked up and down the street only to find Blenz and Starbucks. But Whitney would prefer something else.


We walked further and found Caffe Artigiano on Davie Street.


The place was small, with a few small round tables.


Angie bought us the coffee, thank you Angie. (more…)

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Baker One Cafe in Aberdeen Center, Richmond

Updated: 21 Sep 2014; This restaurant is closed.

Nanzaro wanted to get something from Daiso in Aberdeen Center. Since we were already in the mall, we decided to have lunch there too.


We noticed that Aoyama Cafe located at the entrance had changed hand. It is now called Baker One Cafe.


Baker One Cafe is still at it’s soft opening.


There is not much of change in the decor.


Baker One Cafe serves the similar Japanese Fusion cuisine as Aoyama Cafe. The menu is small, just a few pasta/flat bread and rice dishes; few appetizers; coffee/tea and desserts.

Nanzaro opted for Unagi Rice for $13. Pretty pricey in my opinion. (more…)

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Between McDonalds and Starbucks Coffee

Just in case you don’t already know, the coffee war down south had just spilled over the border to Canada.


A few months ago, McDonalds setting its sights on Starbucks fired the opening salvo by putting up billboards that proclaimed “four bucks is dumb”. Dozens of these billboards were erected in the Washington state and from what I read, there is even one erected right in front of the Starbucks HQ in Seattle. It was direct confrontation of the specialty coffee market in the US.

Last week, the coffee war came to Canada when McDonalds announced that you could get a free coffee during breakfast time in all outlets for a duration of two weeks. Starbucks reacted with a feeble attempt by giving free coffee for just a few hours.


Suanne and I do not normally buy coffee. We make coffee at home and there is also a Starbucks coffee dispenser at work. Two cups in the morning is just about the max we consume everyday.

Last Sunday, we decided to go check out what the fuss was. We woke up early, very early and drove to the Starbucks at Ironwood and bought a cup of Starbucks regular coffee.


We then brought it across the parking lot to the McDonalds outlets to get the free coffee. OK, Suanne was afraid of being caught taking a Starbucks coffee into McDonalds, getting a free cuppa and then take pictures. It was quite obvious what we were doing to the people around us. LOL!

Bear with me OK? I am no coffee expert but this is just my way of comparing McDonalds coffee with Starbucks. First off, we are comparing apple-to-apple. Both cups are small coffee (McDonalds Canada does not have espresso yet, I think).

Size wise, Starbucks wins with its taller cup, slightly wider cup.

The Starbucks cup costs $1.65 while McDonalds is 22% cheaper at $1.29. McDonalds wins.

The cup in McDonalds I heard was a new design which does not require a sleeve … Starbucks does. While the sleeve was made of recycled materials, still it is another piece of garbage that needed to be handled by the system. McDonalds wins here.


Starbucks lid is of simpler design. I like the McDonalds one which has a pullback tab which helps keep the coffee hot a tad longer. McDonalds wins.

You probably read about how big a problem these coffee cups are to the environment. They had largely managed to figure out making the cups environment friendly but the biggest problem is with the plastic lids. They still have no solution to making a viable cheap alternative to the plastic lids.

Oh, there are now proposals to start taxing plastic bottle (I know I am digressing here) in Vancouver. I think it’s a great idea but I know the Vancouver City Hall is up against powerful industry lobby groups.


And now to the coffee. Starbucks serve the coffee with just the right temperature. I can just drink it the moment I get it. For McDonalds’, it was scalding hot when we got it that we had to carefully sip it in the beginning. Starbucks wins.

Starbucks will hand you a cup and lets you add in your own sugar and cream — and you get to chose what creamer you want. In McDonalds, they ask you if you want sugar and cream and adds it for you. You, of course , could add in more if you want but what if you wanted less. OK, Starbucks wins.

Taste wise … heck, I don’t know! Suanne says they taste the same … no difference. I felt Starbucks tastes like 2.4% better because I tasted a hint of bitterness in McDonalds’s cup. Starbucks wins.

Smell wise Starbucks has a stronger coffee smell and so I gotta give it to Starbucks. Starbucks wins.

Give me a sec while I tally up the score …


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Kona Mocha Blended Ice Coffee Mix

Summer is the time to enjoy a cup of iced coffee. My kids’ favourite is Tim Horton’s Iced Capp Supreme. However, I would prefer a McD’s ice coffee simply for the lesser calories. Here is a comparison of nutritional value for a small serving of both of them:

Tim Horton’s Iced Capp Supreme
Calories: 250
Fat: 11g
Saturated fat: 6g
Trans fat: 0.4g
Cholesterol: 45mg
Sodium: 50mg
Sugar: 33g

McDonald’s Iced Coffee
Calories: 110g
Fat: 6g
Saturated fat: 3.5g
Trans fat: 0.2g
Cholesterol: 20mg
Sodium: 35mg
Sugar: 15g

We bought this Kona Mocha Blended Iced Coffee Mix from Costco for about $8. It has become one of Nanzaro’s favourite home made drink in summer.


This is a fairly good iced blended coffee which has the creaminess that resembles Tim Horton’s Iced Capp.


Comparatively, it’s nutritional values is between McD’s Iced Coffee and Tim Horton’s Iced Capp Supreme. (more…)

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Seattle: The First Starbucks Store

Suanne and I must have a cuppa every morning. For some reason, we had never really liked the coffee from Starbucks. If we wanted coffee, we would head to Tim Horton’s.

While we were still in the Pike Place Market, we thought we make a visit to the first Starbucks outlet. This is (almost) where the it all began, where the first of trillions of cups were served. For coffee lovers, I guess visiting the first Starbucks is like a pilgrimage.


I said this is “almost” the first Starbucks. The actual first Starbucks is located just 500 ft from this shop. In many ways, this outlet can be considered as the first Starbucks. You see, when Starbucks were first opened in the earlier location, they only sold coffee beans and equipment for about 11 years. It was only after they moved to this location that the first cup coffee was brewed.

It goes without saying that Starbucks is now the biggest coffeehouse on the planet. But guess you would not have guessed it was started by three teachers.


The Starbucks logo is a green circular logo with a kind of a mermaid on it. This store sports the original all brown logo. (more…)

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Coffee Cake with Chocolate Frosting

You know, I have never tried making cakes with icing on it. I enjoyed looking at nice birthday cakes at bakeries and am always amazed on how creative people are in making them. So, I think I better start simple and especially so when I have a birthday boy at home recently who has always clamored for a “birthday cake with icing”. I made a Coffee Cake with Chocolate Frosting.


Some months back, I bought a book called “1000 Chocolate Baking and Dessert Recipes — from Around the World” for just $24.99. I like recipe books that has lots of pictures and have been flipping through them and bookmarking some of the pages. This is my first attempt, sort of my first of 1000 chocolate cakes/dessert! 🙂

This Coffee Cake is intensely flavoured and is complemented with delicious chocolate frosting, sans decoration. Since I did not have an icing spatula and other stuff for decorating, I made it real simple. I think I will get myself these stuff one of these days and start making nicer looking ones.


  • 6 oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • Scant 1 cup golden superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups self-rising flour, sifted
  • Scant 1/2 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 can of creamy chocolate frosting

IMG_4370_edited-1 (more…)

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