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As originally posted in the Georgia Straight
When Pui Lun Lee was enrolled at Simon Fraser University, he majored in a science subject. Little did he know that he would eventually dabble in Vancouver’s food scene, and open up his own café.
“I studied biology at SFU,” said Lee, co-owner of Aer Café (2263 East Hastings Street), to the Straight. “Afterwards, I just got really into cooking from watching [cooking] shows.”
His interest in making food slowly became a passion, and he decided to apply to the culinary program at Vancouver Community College.
“We needed to take a class with pastries and baking as well, so I thought that was really cool and started pursuing that a little bit more,” said Lee.
After graduating from the program, he landed some gigs at Café Crepe, Terminal City Club, and other eateries. It wasn’t long until he started talking about opening his own coffee shop with his current business partner, Stanley Wan.
Two years of chatter and brainstorming resulted in the opening of Aer Café—a minimalistic but cozy coffee shop along East Hastings street. The area is a foodie hot spot, with neighbours such as Campagnolo Roma, Mr. Red Café, the Red Wagon, and Tacofino Commissary.
But what makes this café different from its neighbouring counterparts is that it’s a quiet and relaxing location for customers to hang out, study, or work.
“I wanted this to be a place where people could relax,” explained Lee.
What better way to do that than with a cup of coffee or tea, and some house made pastries? This 16-seat café serves Moja coffee, Moja pour-overs, and tea from Cultivate Tea. Its food menu offers everything from seasonal soups to gourmet sandwiches (think grilled cheese with caramelized onion, and pork with cilantro mayo).
Guests will also find a variety of daily baked goods, including chocolate chip cookies, carrot cakes, matcha cheesecakes, and croissants. Its house made sourdough bread has been popular with customers, and Lee has recently started making fresh baguettes.
This new joint emits plenty of mouth-watering aromas (coffee, fresh bread, cookies), so don’t be alarmed if you suddenly crave pastries the next time you drive (or walk) down East Hastings.