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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023

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Great coffee made better yet with high-quality baked goods at Vancouver cafes

A meticulously brewed cup of joe deserves to be paired with delicious food

6 Photos
Treats are made in house at River Maiden.
Treats are made in house at River Maiden. (Photo contributed by River Maiden) Photo Gallery

Many local coffee shops carefully source their coffee beans and invest in expensive equipment to extract the perfect cup of coffee. These meticulously composed drinks deserve to be paired with a quality baked good. Here are a few coffee shops with the ideal mix of excellent coffee and on-site bakeries.

River Maiden

5301 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver; 360-694-7500; river-maiden.business.site

Riven Maiden’s 2018 move to its current location in a former bank building provided space for baking. The shop’s recipes are developed through a process of trial and error. Each new pastry is sampled by the staff.

“When you’re the only person tasting it, it can be too much to your needs,” said owner Melissa Layman.

The goal is to create something to appeal to a wide range of customers. Using this method, recipes are often modified to include less sugar.

“So many pastries are really sweet. We’d rather have richness and flavor,” Layman said.

This lower sugar content doesn’t result in baked goods that taste overly wholesome. River Maiden’s massive crispy rice treats (called R.O.U.S., an homage to “The Princess Bride”) are made in a big pan filled with a generous amount of marshmallows and brown butter.

“Who wants a little rice crispy treat?” Layman said.

River Maiden’s cookies, scones and specialties all exude this mix of fun and decadence. Fortunately, the building still has space to expand the baking business. The owners plan to add housemade ciabatta for the breakfast sandwiches. They also plan on offering more seasonal items and quick breads.

My personal favorites at River Maiden are the marionberry scone ($4) with berries from Columbia Fruit and the seasonal Walker Texas Ranger cookie ($2.50), a mix of coconut, butterscotch chips, oats and rice cereal. The ranger cookie always cracks me up because it looks like the chest hair on Chuck Norris of “Walker, Texas Ranger” fame. This cookie returns to the shop in three to four weeks.

Thatcher’s Coffee

104 Grand Blvd., Vancouver; 360-258-0571; thatchers-coffee.square.site

Jamie Erdman, owner of Thatcher’s Coffee, always wanted to have fresh-baked goodies at her Grand Central shop. She likes the sensory experience that the aroma of granola or chocolate chip cookies baking provides to patrons.

Erdman wasn’t ever interested in becoming a coffee roaster, but she does put a lot of effort into sourcing great coffee from places like Roseline Coffee and Heart Coffee Roasters. She wants the quality of the pastries in her shop to equal the quality of the coffee she serves.

Thatcher’s Coffee has always baked a third to half of the items in the pastry case. The pandemic, however, led to changes. One of Thatcher’s vendors stopped delivering to Vancouver. In addition, head baker Sarah Sullivan created some new baked goods over the past couple of years. As a result, Thatcher’s currently bakes everything on site.

Erdman is interested in expanding her baking program to add more savory items, but space is limited. Everything at the shop is baked in a convection oven on the coffee bar. Baking ingredients are stored in a mini fridge near the oven.

Despite this limited space and equipment, the pastry case is always filled with scrumptious eats like Earl Grey shortbread with citrus buttercream ($3.75), banana bread ($3.25) and rosemary walnut scones ($4).

Kafiex Roasters’ Gastro Cafe

100 Waterfront Way, Vancouver; kafiex.com

Kafiex’s Gastro Cafe at the Waterfront Vancouver offers something that owners Matthew and Seidy Selivanow don’t have at their Esther Short Park Coffee Lab: space to bake. The Selivanows’ Waterfront spot is the only place on this list that offers coffee roasted in-house as well as housemade pastries.

Each day, the large pastry case on the coffee bar is filled with baked goods. Prices range from $3.50 to $8 for items including almond croissants, glazed lemon Bundt cakes topped with candied lemon slices, and orange brownies topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.

This is the perfect spot to sip an espresso and nibble a croissant early in the morning while gazing at the Columbia River and cars crossing the Interstate 5 Bridge.