Though the West Coast Trail may be the most internationally renown backpacking route on Vancouver Island, locals know that nearby Juan de Fuca Trail offers incredible beaches, multiple access points, and far less foot traffic. Accessible from either Botanical Beach, Sombrio Beach, or China Beach, the Juan de Fuca Trail is the West Coast experience boiled down to its essence: rocky shorelines, towering trees, roaring waterfalls, suspension bridges, temperamental weather, beach camping, whale spotting, steep staircases struggling to hold together against the constant coastal damp, impenetrable patches of salal with delicious black berries when in season, and slippery pitches steep enough to get your thighs burning in under a minute.
Starting from Duncan, this VICT Discover Coffee Itinerary highlights some excellent local coffee roasters that you can incorporate into your trip. Discover more about the coffee roasters listed below by checking out the VICT Tour Map.
Coffee Stop #1: Black & White Coffee Roasters (Duncan)
One (perhaps fair) complaint about Island living from Mainlanders is that everything moves at a slower pace, including when businesses open. However, you are all set to get on the road bright and early with a Black & White Espresso served up by the Fishbowl Cafe in Duncan which opens at 6 a.m. on weekdays; the Black & White Coffee Roaster helm was taken up by Jason Horn in 2017 who continues on the path set out by award-winning founders Cody and Nicole Smith.
Coffee Stop #2: Beach Camp Coffee (Port Renfrew)
After passing by scenic Cowichan Lake and braving the twisted old growth road leading down the sea, travelers catch their first glimpse of the open Pacific in Port Renfrew. There to greet them, in true West Coast style, is Beach Camp Coffee. Founded by John Rathwell, who began his roasting journey with an iron skillet, Beach Camp Coffee lives up to its tag line: #TrueWestCoastCoffee. Grab lunch and a fresh brewed up of Beach Camp Coffee right on the water at Bridgemans. Enjoy it, as it will be your last meal indoors for the next few days!
Coffee Stop #3: Cold Shoulder Cafe (Jordan River)
Reveling in the rush of having completed the Juan de Fuca Trail, your first thought as you throw your damp pack into the trunk of the car has to be: “Ok, now where do I get a hot coffee?”
Now, if I had to boil down the West Coast experience to one location it would have to be Cold Shoulder Cafe. Located at the elbow of the lazy seaside highway that leads back from Port Renfrew, the Cold Shoulder vibe is equal parts cafe, restaurant, and surf shop. Short of being able to actually rent a board, visitors can sip their latte on the beach just across the road and, if they are lucky, spot a pod of orcas passing by. Furthermore, Cold Shoulder owners live up to the West Coast ethos and were actively involved in the Fairy Creek protests which saw old growth logging in the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park area delayed and, hopefully in the long-term, halted for good.
Coffee Stop #4: The Stick Specialty Coffee Roasters (Sooke)
The Stick in the Mud Coffee House is a community fixture in Sooke and head roaster David Evans is serious about specialty coffee. I recommend their Tsunami Espresso in a cappuccino, great to take on the road along with a bag of feature specialty single origin roasts which are in constant rotation. If you have one more walk in you, East Sooke Regional Park offers excellent locations for picnics either surrounded by mossy trees or atop an rocky bluff overlooking a turquoise-blue ocean. If you do, keep an keen eye out for whales!
Coffee Stop #5: Drumroaster Coffee (Cobble Hill)
Having come to the end of your journey, there may be no better way to celebrate than with a long-overdue shower and a home-cooked meal. But first, coffee! And Drumroaster in Cobble Hill has you covered for your final stop. Founded by intrepid Island coffee pioneer Geir Oglend, who has been on the coffee scene running cafes and repairing espresso machines since the 1970s, Drumroaster is a family-run business offering finely roasted coffees, an array of delectable baked goods, and a collection of antique espresso machines on display at their Cobble Hill location.
Going on a road trip on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands?
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VICT Discover Coffee Trip Itineraries:
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About the Curator
Joshua Gillingham is an author, board game designer, and coffee lover from Vancouver Island. He curates the Vancouver Island Coffee Tour. For questions or comments about VICT, map updates, or roaster openings and closures, send him a note via the community contact form.