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Local roasters rule at this East Pender café

Propaganda Coffee, which launched in February, occupies a bright, open space on East Pender in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The openness extends to the serving counter, thanks to the city’s first Modbar espresso system, which conceals most of its components under the counter. Visible above the counter: the group head, which holds the coffee grounds, and gleaming taps to dispense the coffee.

“The Modbar marries function and esthetics,” says Propaganda co-owner William Wang. “It works just as well as any other high-end espresso machine, but it opens up a more direct interaction between the customers and the barista. Instead of hiding behind the machine, you get to talk to whoever’s making your coffee–like talking to the bartender almost.”

As for the coffee, Propaganda serves a rotation from local small roasters like Elysian, Timbertrain and Pallet. “Our concept is focusing on what’s local, the small guys,” says Wang, whose business partners are Winfield Yan and his sister, Katie Yan. Wang has worked in the coffee scene for seven or eight years–at Caffè Artigiano, Coffeebar, Bel Café and Prado–and Winfield was one of his customers. “We’re basically just coffee lovers, really.”