Shatterbox Coffee Bar: A First Look at a New Location

This spring has been busy for Shatterbox Coffee Bar. After nearly three years, they’ve relocated to the historic George Mason building (read about it here) at 916 Pandora Avenue.
Shatterbox owner and master blender, Kalen Harris, is excited about the move, just a few blocks away from the original Yates Street location. This time, instead of a men’s wear clothing store for neighbors, they have Relish and a view of the Alix Goolden Hall. Beside Goolden Hall is Our Place Society, an inner-city community center. The centre services Victoria’s working poor, elderly, addicted and homeless community. They provide 1200 meals a day and with that they have a lot of loiterers. I asked Harris how, if at all, this demographic might affect his business and Harris shoots back, “It’s a non-issue. I feel more downtown here. This is what an urban café should feel like. We’re all people from the same node. I’d rather see people outside than a parking lot (the original Shatterbox was across from London Drugs on Yates Street).”

“Coffee works well as a hub for people in communities” Harris continues. He and fiancée Karen Morrison have come to regard Shatterbox as a kind of touchstone for people, a place to make connections and take a minute to recharge. A first look (and a first sip) of the new site proves the Shatterbox hub is alive and thriving and their customer base strong. Harris greets his customers by name and the brewing begins.

The new space retains the same European-style vibe as the former Shatterbox—airy, uncluttered, and inviting. Some of the additions include window bench seating, a sleek and expanded bar with built-in pastry case, and natural wood accents. The walls will continue to showcase local artwork, changing on a monthly rotation.

Whether it’s an espresso, a pour over, or specialty coffee drink you’re after, Harris is committed to ensuring his customers leave satisfied.

“If you’ve ever gone somewhere and loved the coffee, we try to duplicate that experience” he says. “We are committed to our customer’s comfort and to brewing coffees you can drink morning, noon and night.”

Before traveling to Hamburg, Germany, Harris worked in the service industry as a bartender and server. While living in the port city of Hamburg (Europe’s largest importer of raw coffee), Harris worked as a barista at the esteemed Café’ Knuth, where his passion for coffee was ignited. He read a lot and began apprenticing with an Italian coffee roaster. It was the art of making coffee that Harris’ inner bartender latched onto, though. “I was interested in the delicate side of coffee; pouring the perfect shot, or making the ultimate micro-foam (tiny espresso bubbles also called the crema). It took me over a month to pour my first heart.”

After returning to Canada, Harris brought with him his fondness for Old-World Italian-style coffee and a vision that became the Shatterbox Coffee Bar. He uses beans from Drumroaster Coffee of Cobble Hill. Harris grinds all his coffee in-house using a combination of Aribica and Robusta beans. The blends are fresh, unique, rich, and smooth.

The two recurrent blends at Shatterbox are the House Blend, what Harris calls “an everyman’s coffee with rich chocolate and sweet red fruit flavours” and the Drip Blend, “coffee that your Oma used to make, only better”.

A few Shatterbox originals are the Miami Vice, made with vanilla, cold brew espresso, ice, and sparkling water; and the previously mentioned Dark & Spicy, a delicate blend of River Road, cayenne hot chocolate, and espresso. The Love Potion, for the tea drinker, is made with black tea, rose water, and steamed chocolate milk. Sweet treats include daily bars from Portofino, muffins from Cherries Bistro, cinnamon buns on Saturdays, and Sunday doughnuts from Empire Bakery.

So, next time you’re in the neighborhood, head into the Shatterbox Coffee Bar –
Hours: 7:30am – 4:00pm Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm Saturday, Sunday & Holidays 
Shatterbox Coffee Bar
916 Pandora Avenue, Victoria, B.C.

Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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