Prado Cafe
By Jesse Donaldson

Putting Coffee First

When Sammy Piccolo took over as the owner and operator of Prado Cafe, he had a simple mission. “They had good coffee, but their training wasn't all that great,” he recalls. “So we had to come in and teach everyone how to make coffee properly, and to focus on the taste. We wanted to make sure people knew that Prado put coffee first.”

And since Sammy took over in 2011, Prado has “put coffee first” with great success, offering tasty espresso drinks, and locally roasted coffee (not to mention a diverse assortment of pastries) at three separate Vancouver locations.

“It was always a place I'd enjoyed,” Sammy recalls, “but this was a chance to take something I really, really liked, and make it into something I loved.”

I like to think of the place as East Van's cafe...we get lawyers, university professors, students, moms. It's a place for everyone, really. - Sammy Piccolo, owner
Prado offers locally-roasted beans, flavourful drinks and a relaxed atmosphere.

Crema Of The Crop

Sammy's passion for the coffee business is something of a family trait; not only did he spend six years alongside his brothers as a partner at Caffe Artigiano (they sold the business back in 2006), but his family also owns 49th Parallel, a popular local roaster. His skills behind the espresso machine are similarly impressive, including four first-place wins at the Canadian Barista Championship, four Top 3 placements at the World Barista Championship, and top honours at the World Latte Art Championship.

“When I was a kid, growing up Italian, my Mom would make espresso on the stove-top, and she'd put a little drop in your warm milk,” he remembers. “That's where it started. But ultimately I started drinking coffee like any other Canadian at Tim Hortons or whatever. Then, when I went to Italy, I started seeing a different side of coffee. And started getting more and more excited about it – seeing just how good it could be.”

Expertly prepared espresso drinks and handmade baked goods at Prado.
In addition to coffee and pastries, Prado's Fraser Street location also offers a variety of breakfast options.

Coffee Focused. Community Minded.

Both Prado and 49th Parallel are committed to ethical sourcing, disclosing regular Accountability Reports, and working to cultivate lasting relationships with farmers and producers. And that community mindset also extends into the neighbourhoods where Sammy has chosen to set up shop. In 2014, Prado spearheaded an initiative to install a community parklet across from their Commercial Drive location. In 2016, they chose to sponsor 25 kids to take part in after-school sports programs.

And the community appears to be responding. Prado's expansion in 2015 was rapid, including two new locations – one of which, on Fraser Street, now offers a full range of breakfast options. And moving forward, Sammy intends to continue Prado's community affiliation at all three cafes, providing Vancouverites with a chance to enjoy locally-roasted beans, flavorful drinks, a relaxed atmosphere, and of course, a chance to put the coffee first.

“I like to think of the place as East Van's cafe,” he muses. “If you look online, we have this reputation for having a hipster vibe. But I'm not sure that's true. I see it as more of a blue-collar, East Van-type place. We get lawyers, university professors, students, moms. It's a place for everyone, really.”

Industrial light fixtures create a modern glow at Prado Cafe.
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