By: Sara Wong, Arts & Culture Editor
There are no shortage of cafés around Metro Vancouver (and as a foodie with a growing obsession for coffee, I’ve been to many), but none match the eclectic, community-forward atmosphere that can be found at Port Moody’s Grit Studio. Located in a heritage building on Clarke Street, Grit Studio (Grit) describes themselves simply as “a space where lifestyle, art & design converge.”
Walking into Grit is a sensory explosion. The first thing my eyes landed on during my first visit was an array of antique household objects hanging from the wall above a seating nook near the front window. As I got closer, I noticed that some of the pieces were actually collages of smaller objects like wooden alphabet blocks and lightbulbs. “Art within art” became a recurrent theme the more I explored the place and talked to the staff. For instance, most of the furniture was custom-made by Grit co-owner, Cezar Salaveria, out of upcycled materials (one remarkable example being a standalone tub!). Scattered throughout the café was a huge variety of local artisan products, such as coconut jam from Bukobaba Essentials, magazines by One of Us Collective, and plants from Kermodi Living Art.
Another thing I loved about the setup at Grit was that there was space. Pre-COVID, it was typical to enter a coffee shop and see customers at clusters of small, tightly-packed tables; and if every table was occupied, the people looked like one giant blob. The complete opposite can be found at Grit Studio. The layout offers a cozy, intimate feel at a number of uniquely designed seating areas, two of which are hidden away in separate rooms from the main part of the café. There’s also room to spread out at the large, live edge table. Original components of the heritage building, like the narrow-plank hardwood floors and panelling on the walls, add to the homey ambiance.
As for the coffee selection, it’s superb. For starters, they serve Stumptown Coffee, an internationally recognized brand with a reverent army of fans (picture JJ Bean followers on steroids). Grit offers all the usual specialty coffee options, but my recommendation would be the lesser-known Spanish latte. I had it during my first visit (which was several months ago), and as I reminisce on the experience, the one word that comes to mind is “heavenly.”
When it comes to food, Grit uses the business’ need for sweets as another opportunity to support other local establishments. So far, I’ve only tried a couple: the salted caramel dacquoise from Earthling Foods (delicious) and the black sesame croissant from Elmo Baking Co. (decent, but not something I would order again). There are also a few small, savoury items (e.g. avocado toast), and these are made in-house. The food is definitely not the star attraction, but it’s worthwhile if you intend to spend a day here studying or catching up with friends post-pandemic.
To sum everything up, Grit Studio is one of a kind. I hope you all get the chance to discover this Tri-Cities hidden gem for yourselves because the minute you step inside, you’ll get the sense that the space has been waiting to welcome you. It’s like being inside a warm embrace, and I think we’ll all be craving that feeling when the pandemic ends.