Strange Love Coffee
Strange Love Coffee is an artisanal coffee shop with specialty drinks and even more special baked treats and bon bons. It’s owned by Chris Nguyen along with partner David Tran, with help from head barista Siarhei Laurenau.
The shop celebrates the team’s “strange love” of small, quirky things, like coffee, plants, art, games and toys. Nguyen and Tran’s tech background has enabled the pair to approach the business like a startup, relying heavily on feedback and analysis.
With free WiFi, the password clearly displayed at cash, it’s a nice little downtown spot to do some studying while sipping an immaculately made brew surrounded by terrariums filled with succulents.
A separated back room allows for a little privacy, but still features a huge window.
You could get an ordinary latte ($4.25) though I’m assured with state of the art equipment nothing is ordinary here.
Laurenau curates the coffee program, balancing approachable and more exotic coffees from roasters he likes such as Phil & Sebastian and Pilot, using a Dalla Corte machine.
A “lover’s” latte ($5) is flavoured with complex, nutty, vanilla-like tonka syrup, made from the tonka bean grown in Brazil and popular in France.
High end equipment includes a machine that reengineers the mineral makeup of the water they use, cleaning out indiscriminate material. Using this they’re able to formulate a mineral recipe that affects the flavours and acids of all their coffees, drip or espresso-based.
Many of the baked good as well as bon bons ($2.50) are made by small French family team Gouter. During my visit, flavours were whisky caramel, sour lemon meringue, and a banana caramel that really brought banana flavour.
Eclairs ($6) made by the same family and are a standard recipe of cream-filled pastry, but brushed with an edible metallic colouring for a modern sheen.
Croissants ($2.75, $3 for chocolate, almond or strawberry) are again made by Gouter, flaky, poofy, and moist on the inside.
Various strange loves are indulged here in pop-up form: when I visited they were working with Snakes & Lattes to offer games.
They also partnered with Grow Something for the terrariums (ranging about $30 - $120) so you can bring home your plant study buddy if you get attached.
Not only that, you can also buy the unique serving boards used here.
Art on the walls is also for sale, abstract pieces ranging from several hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
Space near the front window is super bright, and the whole shop has an open feel, quirky shelves jutting out from the walls, an entire one of which is dedicated to the extensive chalkboard menu, plants dangling from the ceiling and popping out of the walls.