All About The Unique Coffee Experience at Vancouver’s Train Station Cafe: Platform 7
Tucked away on the corner of West Broadway and Vine is a small cafe unlike any other.
What makes Platform 7 so unique is that its interior resembles a train station. “When people are in a train station, there are all kinds of accent, dialects, stories. It’s exciting to be a train station because it signifies the beginning of a trip and sometimes the final destination is unknown.”
It was with this in mind, two friends – Marke McNichol and Livio Susin decided to create an inclusive environment that loves and supports each other. These days, cafes are a dime in the dozen. Platform 7 is special because it was created to provide customers an experience.
How It All Began
The whole concept behind Platform 7 is “Woodstock”.
Woodstock was a musical festival held on a dairy farm in New York City during summer of 1969. The event was significant because it housed over 100,000 people for three days without any visible security. People were sharing food, shelter, drugs…It also gave the underground music scene a voice. It was a cultural event about love and connection.
“It (Woodstock) was about sex, drugs and rock and roll, but what is more important, is it was an event and experience that is still remembered until this day.”
— MARKE MCNICHOL
Woodstock was the inspiration that allowed Marke and Livio to create a cafe with a different connection and energy from other Vancouver cafes.
The first thing you notice when you walk into Platform 7 is the dramatic ceiling. The lowered ceiling in the back half of the cafe is covered with a see through arch, which makes you feel like you’re looking out of the roof of a train station and at the sky. This creates a sense of romance and passion.
The booths and counter were handmade by Livio and woodwork in the store.
Since Marke’s family is British, it was only natural for him to design the East Hastings location based on Paddington Station in London. For their second location in Kitsilano, they looked for inspiration in Italy – where Livio’s family is from.
However they were not impressed and turned their efforts to Paris after coming across Belle-Epoque Parisienne train station and falling in love with it.
From 70 Samples to Just 1
It’s not just the interior that is to die for, their menu is also quite extraordinary.
“When it comes to coffee, there is no right or wrong. It’s simply about personal preference,” explained Marke. He wanted to introduce Stumptown Coffee to Vancouver because of their alternative and exquisite style of roasting.
When they were deciding which roast to offer, they tested 70 coffee bean samples and shortlisted to about 12.
Their blind test eventually ended up with Stumptown winning as well.
All about the cup of joe
On the countertop, you’ll find 5 different glasswares that provide Platform 7 the opportunity to showcase Stumptown’s single origin farm. As someone who is very passionate about coffee, Marke takes extreme pride in his Hario glassware.
“Coffee is very interesting and you can present it in different ways.”
— MARKE MCNICHOL
Their coffee menu is split into 3 types: the Cold Bar, Brew Bar and Espresso Bar.
From the Cold Bar, you will find the foamy Nitro Brew. From the Espresso bar menu, you can find your typical lattes, hot chocolate and mochas.
What really fascinated me was the Brew Bar menu, especially the Stumptown Tasting Flight and the Brew Flight.
For the Tasting Flight, the brew method is kept constant, a.k.a the machinery. The baristas give you 3 different types of beans, for example, a Costa rica, a Brazilian and a Far Eastern (Indonesian). With this, you get to determine your favourite coffee bean for that particular brew method.
The other item that caught my eye was the Brew Flight. This time, what is kept constant is the type of beans. The coffee comes out tasting different with a type of equipment, even though the same type of bean is used.
There is also the Siphon in the Brew Bar Menu which is a local favourite because of the impressive visuals. There is often a crowd of spectators around the counter whenever the siphon is in use.
Locally Sourced Baked Goods & Sandwiches
Platform 7’s food menu is divided into baked goods and sandwiches. Their baked goods are sourced locally from independent artisan bakeries. Its main supplier is Baguette et Compagnie which is perfect since the Kitsilano location was designed after a French train station.
Their sandwiches are made in-house daily, with bread sourced locally from A Bread Affair with vegan and gluten free options available. Their deli is from Cioffi, which Marke believes to be the best quality supplier with different cheese and condiments options. Platform 7’sbreakfast sandwiches are extremely popular and they always sell out.
I personally loved the Turkey Cranberry Sandwich and cannot wait to go back for more.
Music Is A Big Deal
Considering that the cafe was inspired by a music festival, the type of music being played is a big deal. Being a drummer, Marke wanted to enhance the “Woodstock” feel as much as possible.
Music is handpicked by Marke and his fellow baristas to allow a more diverse and international playlist, however he has a strict “no normal pop, no rap, no country” policy.
His go-to genre is “eclectic” and this includes Frank sinatra, electronic and more.
Two Locations With Two Different Vibes
What makes the two locations different are the different demographics. The staff and customers bring different personalities to the cafe. The East Hastings location tends to be more laid back and chill, which Marke quotes to be “so Woodstock”.
The cafes have a no wifi policy on the weekend to encourage customers to interact with each other. They also encourage customers to “share the booth” in hopes of customers connecting with one another.
For all you Platform 7 lovers, as a spoiler, Marke let me know that he has an outrageous idea for the third location and cannot wait for coffee lovers to see it.
A fourth year nutrition student with a big love for food! After spending a summer interning in content creation, Selena realized her true passion was in writing and changing the world with words. You’ll probably find her at the ice rink or at your local hot pot/dim sum restaurant.