This whole ‘Instead of Starbucks’ thing stemmed from me frequenting an obscene number of coffee shops while working between shoots & editing.  It’s about finding cultural or local hotspots with a personality.  This isn’t a review of the food there, but more so snapshots of the experience, the people, and the overall vibe of a place (through my eyes).

West Vancouver: the land of rich white yoga moms, old age, and health conscious, expensive decisions. Plus, nature. That’s the surface culture, anyway. So if you should ever find yourself in West Vancouver and venturing off of the hollywood strip (marine drive) of boutique poodle clothing, take yourself to Crema Coffee Bar. It will deliver you a local and amusing snapshot of the authentic West Vancouver experience—both in it’s design, and the culture of locals that frequent it.

I’m sitting at a corner table in Crema, feeling fresh, like I have the cleanest of white cuticles. That’s the effect of this airy, vanilla space. The name, Crema, evokes its atmosphere: clean, white, with shades of beige. It’s not creative, but that’s West Vancouver—it’s beautiful, clean, expensive and there are subtle wood finishings to hint at coast culture. Oh, and tanned-orange older men with crisp white eyebrows. Crema is the coffee community yacht club. Fresh, pricey sandwiches and premium coffee brands. So, I’m here at lunch and I’m taking in an overview of stereotypical West Vancouverite culture. Following suit, to my right, a gaggle of middle-aged women all wearing capris, reminiscent of a yogurt commercial, are discussing bathroom tiles. Across the room, there’s two persian women in designer turquoise gossiping loudly in iranian and they’re sitting across from rich wives with lip gloss and real estate licenses. An active, toothpaste- toothed family in running shoes walks in the door. All of them are beautiful and even the five-year-old has athletic calves. In contrast, a retired couple on their comfortable weekly date are sitting crossed legged in silence, looking out the window in unison as they wait for their aged friend who is in line for a fruitcake cup. She squints into the buffet with good-natured questions like “are the raspberries washed?”. There is an assortment of hairbands, healthy stay at home moms, a balding business convo or two, and a beautiful, shiny-haired young couple in leather boat shoes and quality flip flops. Their children will one day use premium diapers that compliment their brand-name socks. Everyone and everything is clean. Everything is quality. Everything is above average priced. There are strawberries and mint leaves in the glass water canisters.

It may not be a ‘funky’ or ‘interesting’ experience. But Crema is locally owned and it reflects it’s clean, good-looking, pro-biotic community. It’s a taste of West Van culture. Plus, the sandwiches are also tasty and you will feel good about eating them (because they are an investment). And… it’s not Starbucks