Setting the tone for the regulars—and there are a lot of them—Continental Coffee owner Anita Allan treats the Commercial Drive spot as her unofficial living room. Lord knows she’s earned the right. Even if the location has changed, Continental was around long before the Drive became ground zero for Lotusland coffee lovers. After immigrating to Canada from Italy, Allan’s father, Theo Grippo, opened the first incarnation of the shop where the Storm Crow Tavern now operates. Allan rebooted the business in 1979 in its present location.
The primary reason Continental continues to thrive—even with a Starbucks across the street—is, of course, the coffee, which the company roasts at its own facility in Burnaby. Grab a Dark French espresso for its beautifully bold chocolate notes, or a Mexican Pluma for something lighter and caramel-kissed. Once you’ve ordered, hunker down at one of the communal tables and spend a couple of hours hanging out. It’s not like Anita Allan will kick you out, perhaps because she’s aware that—seemingly like her—you might have nowhere else to go.