Coffee Time: Finding the best Java on Campus

Over the summer, we took a good look at what kind of coffee you can get around campus and put together this little guide for you. I’m sure you will figure out what coffee you prefer soon. Once the course work starts to pile up, you’ll be strapped for time between classes. To quote Twin Peak’s FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, “I only have time for coffee.”


On the Burnaby campus, there are several options. SE12 has a Tim Horton’s, and there’s also self-serve Tim Horton’s coffee in the connected cafeteria so you don’t have to wait in the always-busy, never-not queue if you’re only interested in the brewed coffee. There are two options – original and dark roast. I’m not sure when Tim Horton’s rolled out the dark roast, but I wish they hadn’t. If you’re the type that puts lots of sugar and whitener in your coffee, this isn’t too bad. If you take it black, there are better options for you.

The Rix Cafe in SE6 and Gateway Cafe in SW1 both serve Starbucks coffee. Rix Cafe has specialty beverages like frappuccinos and lattes—but that’s not what we’re talking about in this article. My personal favourite is their medium roast, Pike Place named after their first store in Seattle’s public market. It’s smooth for a medium roast, with hints of toasted nuts and cocoa. I’ve also seen both Verona and Sumatra blends there for dark roasts – Verona is richer with dark cocoa while Sumatra is smoother with a herbal after-taste. Line-ups at the Rix can get long during peak hours, but the Gateway Cafe is almost never too busy.

There are two Stand locations, one in SE2 and one in SE12. Both are owned and operated by the BCITSA. These stores have my favourite coffees on campus, JJ Bean Coffee Roasters. They carry all the blends – Railtown, Eastside and Espresso JJ. There’s one rotating coffee which could be Carmo Estate or Nariño, Columbia.

JJ Bean’s blends are all pretty distinguishable – Eastside has tones like chocolate and fruit, and is quite full-bodied, while Railtown is darker with low acidity. Espresso JJ was my natural go-to for most of my time at BCIT. The medium-dark roast blend has almost become synonymous for me with post-exam fatigue and with the excitement of starting new projects. The line-ups are never too long at either Stand location. The Habitat Pub and the Pavilion both also have JJ Bean coffee available.

What about the other campuses?

For this article, I took a trip down to BCIT’s Marine Campus in North Vancouver. The cafeteria there was closed, but someone recommended I visit Goodlad Coffee, Clothing, Cut. This place is three things-in-one. A barber, a cafe and a men’s high end clothing boutique. Goodlad brews West End Coffee, $3 for a small, and it was a great experience perusing the clothing while sipping a damn fine cup of coffee. They also do a bullet coffee, which is brewed coffee mixed with grass-fed unsalted butter and coconut oil. People on high-fat, low-carb (keto) use it as a breakfast replacement.

BCIT’s Aerospace Campus in Richmond doesn’t have many options—just the Austin Grill, there. I couldn’t find any options near the Annacis Island campus, save for the McDonald’s nearby. The nice thing about the McCafe rollout is they do promotions like $1 coffee days or buy-one-get-one-frees. The coffee is, surprisingly, pretty good. It used to be a blend of different beans but is now 100% Arabica.

I know there are probably more important things than coffee on your brain as you figure out your course schedules and stumble into the wrong classrooms—but, hopefully, this article can serve as a road map to help you feel more comfortable on campus.

Check out this Coffee Flowchart by Samantha Pasielski if you want to pick the best place at BCIT for your caffeine kick.


Sean is in the BCIT Broadcast & Online Journalism program. He also works at the BCIT Student Associations as a Publication Intern for Link Magazine and volunteers at The Cinematheque. He enjoys local music, overly complicated board games and a good cup of black coffee.