Unique synergy makes Qualicum Beach’s French Press Cafe a popular gathering place

French Press Cafe

A bay window, books, music, good food – what more could one ask?

One of our favourite spots for coffee or a casual lunch hasn’t been in existence all that long in its current iteration but it has far outstripped its predecessors in popularity, ambiance and quality of fare.  French Press Café is located on a side street in the heart of the village of Qualicum Beach, tucked next to the local liquor store.  In its previous life the café was a fairly well-liked deli-style eatery, but the changes wrought by new owner Brenda Martin and her cheerful staff have seen the place explode with patrons.

Flavourful scratch-made tomato soup - with mini-grilled cheese croutons

Flavourful scratch-made tomato soup – with mini-grilled cheese croutons

The allure of this cheerful little spot results from a combination of many things.  Brenda has created a comfortable and cozy environment that invites customers to linger a while over coffee with friends or meet up for a leisurely lunch. The rustic/European décor features an inviting amalgamation of bench seats, bay window eating bar, book shelves and intriguing wall art. The café is long and narrow, so it’s not unusual to find yourself chatting with the folks at the next table, even if you have never met them. In many ways it is probably as close to the Canadian version of ‘café society’ as you are going to find on the Island – there is a cheerful buzz that draws you in and entices you to stick around for a while.

Breakfast sandwich for five bucks - guaranteed you won't start your day hungry!

Breakfast sandwich for five bucks – guaranteed you won’t start your day hungry!

The second draw at French Press is the staff – a well-co-ordinated team of cheerful gals that always have a welcoming hello and a good handle on what’s about to come out of the tiny kitchen. Despite the cramped working quarters the ladies seem to manage to work in harmony as they create the day’s offerings.

Greek quinoa salad - a tasty combination of healthy ingredients

Greek quinoa salad – a tasty combination of healthy ingredients

Last but certainly not least, there is the food – plentiful and always interesting.  Every day there are a couple of different soups on the menu, made from scratch each morning.  There is always a lunch special of some sort, along with the regular meal items posted on the blackboard menus. Some of the best baked goods in town (again, from scratch and created daily) come out of the oven, and there is always an interesting variety of salads to choose from. French Press doesn’t use just any old bread in its creations, either – sandwiches are constructed with specialty breads baked either in Victoria or at the local and very popular La Boulange organic bakery.  Gluten free options are available.

Interior It’s hard to put your finger on it, really, but the synergy at this place just works. The permutation of personalities, casual ambiance, music and interesting food has come together to provide an intimate and happy location to start your day over a quiet cup of coffee or join friends or family for lunch. Can’t help but love the place – glad we live so near to it.

            French Press Café is open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.. Monday to Friday.  The café does not have a website, but can be found on Facebook  at:


 Price rating: $

             French Press is located at 692 Primrose Street, Qualicum Beach

 GPS Co-ordinates are:

 Lat. 49.346969152667675  Long. -124.44422138070473

N 49 20.818  W 124 26.653

French Press Bistro on Urbanspoon


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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