Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Finding the best London Fog in Vancouver

The above beverage is a London Fog, which is a tea-based latte. The basic ingredients of what is my favourite drink are typically as follows:

  • Earl Grey tea (1 bag)
  • 100 mL boiling water
  • 10-30 mL vanilla syrup (to taste)
  • Steamed milk (to taste)
There are all sorts of variations on the above but that is more or less what I expect. In some cases, you can work with simple syrup and then add real vanilla into it or you can also just use vanilla extract, but the above is what I would be the absolute basics of what you'd need to make it at home.

I've been drinking this beverage as a default in most Metro Vancouver cafes for a good decade and a bit; I first came across it in my university's coffee shop and was immediately hooked. Its origins are disputed, but it has been suggested it originated from a now-defunct place on West 4th Avenue called the Buckwheat Cafe. I've tried to find more details on the place but information is scarce as it existed before the Internet was commonplace (the claim is that it was invented in late 1996) and the digital records on the City of Vancouver Archives website do not make mention of the place anywhere.

At some point I'll have to do more digging and maybe check with the Vancouver Library. I want to know why it was called a London Fog (presumably due to its use of Earl Grey tea), if the stories about its origins written the Internet are true, and maybe a bit more about the shop itself. If you know anything, do drop me a line!

I've been hitting up random cafes I tend to frequent and have compiled a list of what I think about their version of a London Fog. Because some places will do theirs slightly differently than the above recipe, I've opted to skip on mentioning them.

Name Location Thoughts
Kafka 2525 Main Street
(Near Broadway)
I am going to say that this is probably one of my favourites. The cafe is near two friends of mine so I have only hit it up when I am with them but each time I've had the drink there it has been absolutely fantastic. It's not too sweet, it appears to use real vanilla, and it has the right balance of ingredients.
Cafe Deux Soleils 2096 Commercial Dr. To be honest, I really come here for the vegetarian food but they do serve a fairly okay London Fog. There isn't anything to write home about but I will remark that it's good and I don't find myself offended by it.
Starbucks Earth Like most things in Starbucks, it's not all that great. Like if I need a cup of tea or anything, it's fine, but I find that their version is just far too sweet. That said, it does exist outside of their Vancouver locations as someone in Dallas confirmed that they can make it. In a pinch, I'll settle with them but maybe ask them to not pump in so much syrup.
Blenz Metro Vancouver Theirs is mediocre. Being that there are three locations near me sometimes I do settle for going with them, but there are far better options but nowhere near that is convenient. Better than Starbucks but that is not an achievement.
JJ Bean Vancouver & Toronto It's good. I've had it at two of their locations (Marine Building and Commercial Drive) and it's fine and really I have no complaints. Definitely better than Blenz and if I feel like walking further away from work I'll go to them.
Prado Cafe 1938 Commercial Drive Prado has a few locations but I generally go to this one due to its accessibility--if I ask to take you there, I probably like you. Theirs is really good and is probably as good or close to as good as Kafka's. The above photo is in fact one I had just earlier this week.

So these are my really ridiculous tasting notes for my favourite beverage. I hope to find out more information about the origins of the London Fog. Once I have dealt with some personal matters in the coming few months, I am going to start digging more into it. I also am going to start making my own at home!


  1. A bit out of the way, but Thomas Haas has a great London Fog. It was my go-to when I worked beside the location in North Van.

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