Why: Java House has the distinction of being Vancouver’s first downtown espresso shop. Owners Cora and Lonnie Chandler opened for business in 1991. They said they have watched as coffee and espresso houses and kiosks have sprung up all over Clark County’s landscape offering a menu of choices similar to what Java House has had from its beginning.
Java House’s longevity, along with its downtown location, has contributed to it having become a regular stop for the who’s who in county politics, as well as a more loyal crowd interested in consistency more than the latest industry trends.
Atmosphere: A canvas canopy that overhangs the walk out front suggests a European experience. This is met by a more contemporary atmosphere with a touch of island influence within. The floors are covered with a handsome slate. Green and black granite counter tops are complimented by black furniture and light fixtures. Seating consists of round tables with chairs that will comfortably seat four, and a tall window-side counter with tall bistro chairs flanks the street side of the space.
What I tried: I tried the house coffee with a portion of ham and broccoli quiche and a slice of pumpkin bread. I also sampled the Frozen Buzz, which is an ice-cold blended concoction of coffee, cream and sugar, to which you may add flavored syrup, though I left it as is.
After one sip of the coffee, I knew I had found something worth returning for. The flavor was rich and delicately balanced without an overwhelming lingering presence, encouraging sip after inspiring sip. That’s the absolute perfect coffee experience, in my opinion.
The quiche was very straightforward, as were the ingredients — ham, broccoli, cheese and egg were all distinctly recognizable in appearance and flavor without that over-blended quality that is too often served up in a slice of quiche.
The first bite of the pumpkin bread made me wonder how they got ahold of my recipe. It tasted just like the one I make for the holidays. Obviously, it’s deliciously moist and yummy.
I was impressed with the Frozen Buzz for its flavor and consistency. I thought of many occasions when I have ordered blended beverages elsewhere that have rendered a less-than-ideally blended texture, and the frustration of dealing with ice chunks stuck in the straw. Java’s Frozen Buzz has a consistent, Slurpee-like texture. If you gravitate toward sugar, you will love its sweet flavor.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Coffee is sourced from Coffee Bean International, based in Portland, which allows for a selection of 22 different varieties of whole-bean coffee daily. Twelve loose-leaf teas are available. Pastries are procured from local sources as well, and salads and sandwiches are from Molly’s in Seattle.
Quiche is fresh daily and available in ham and broccoli, spicy sausage and spinach, and a vegetarian variety.
Other observations: Service is friendly, and the atmosphere is relaxed. On my visit it also was pleasantly absent the “second office” feel, which often accompanies Starbucks and the like.
Food items are always fresh. Any end-of-day items are taken to the local food banks for those in need.
Cost: Coffee and espresso beverages come in 8-ounce, 12-ounce, 16-ounce and 20-ounce sizes and range in prices from $1.25 to $2.25. A Frozen Buzz is $3.50 or $4.50. Cookies are $2 to $2.54. Muffins and Danish are $2.35. Scones cost $2.25. Quiche is $4.50. Bagels are $1.45. Sandwiches and salads are $5.75 to $7.75.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 210 W. Evergreen Blvd., Suite 400, Vancouver
Health score: Java House received a score of 5 on Oct. 18. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.