By Ben Adler
I went to Canada, where people speak in an accent that combines the worst elements of the Midwest (they pronounce pasta with a short A) and British (they say the silent H in herbal). But this was West Coast Canada: Vancouver, British Columbia. Out there they combine funny accents with wealthy hippie values. Everyone is into Buddhism or meditating or one of those things. Even the hair salons have Buddha statues in them.
And there are coffee shops everywhere. I’m certain Vancouver has the most per capita of any Canadian city. And since the socialist state there encourages people to waste their youth “studying,” at under-priced graduate schools, there is an especially big market for places that serve coffee and let you sit in big comfy chairs. I’m a follower of the “when in Rome,” school of thought about what I eat when traveling — just ask my girlfriend how at every meal in Central Europe I insisted on ordering the disgusting local schnitzel because, you know, that’s the experience you’re supposed to have.
So of course on my first day in Vancouver I was sure to stop in the first coffee bar I saw. Located on Granville Island — think South Street Seaport only more authentic — I found myself at a counter next to a stack of coffee bags bearing the most ridiculous sounding claims. “Organic Certified, Fairly Traded, Bird Friendly, Shade Grown, Rainforest Alliance.” I’m as eco and labor friendly as they come, and I have no objection to any of the above modifiers (although I’m not sure exactly what “Bird Friendly” means.) But this just struck me as a ridiculous stereotype of itself. How did it taste? I have no idea, because like a good Vancouverite I got a cappuccino.