Death Valley’s Little Brother

D V L B.

Challenge: Try saying that 10 times, as quickly as you possibly can.

It is difficult! Mine always evolves into something along the lines of dee-bee-ahh-bee… if yours still sound like DVLB on the 10th you are not saying it fast enough!

It has been almost a year since Death Valley’s Little Brother replaced the bright orange Papa Lou signage with the mysterious golden DVLB. Unlike many other cafes offering light meals, DVLB focuses on coffee & whisky, but also has freshly baked goods from several well-established bakeries in the region.

On two separate occasions last week, one weekday night & another weekend morning, I was asked to recommend a place for coffee at Uptown Waterloo. Without second thoughts I chirped, “Let’s go to DVLB!”. The ambiance and uniqueness of this cafe is just irresistible.

First Impression:

DVLB’s dark window makes it difficult to peek in from King Street for a clear view of the interior.

Death Valley (or D.V.) was one such fearsome jackalope that fought in many battles during the early years. He was the king of all jackalopes and worked tirelessly to protect his family and friends. Unfortunately like most warriors, one day he was defeated, suddenly leaving all his crown duties to his much younger and gentler brother. Whisper had some different ideas on how to solve the warren’s problems. He found that if he nibbled on coffee beans in the morning and sipped whisky at night, everything would be quite alright. Soon his entire warren was nibbling beans in the morning and sipping whisky at night!

Whisky & Coffee – the killer combination that led to the cafe hours of 8am to 11pm almost every night. I am extremely grateful for DVLB’s late hours. The perfect place for an after-dinner coffee.

DVLB asks customers (aka Jackalopes) to pick up coffee orders by this area. I love the waiting spot as it allows for a perfect view of my barista at work. Once, my creepy photo-taking behavior scared the poor barista as she shyly exclaimed that she was not camera-ready.

With DVLB’s popularity comes the constant uncertainty as to whether there will be available tables on any given visit. DVLB has two large communal tables, a concept that is fresh for the KW region. I like it as it encourages a sense of community and sharing. There are approximately 5 smaller tables in the middle of the cafe, and a couple of couches by the corner.

On several visits, we had to leave for another cafe or get coffee to-go as DVLB was packed with people with empty cups, intensely working away on their laptops. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with that and probably every cafe has had their fair share of the laptop crowd. However, it does get increasingly frustrating for other customers to not be able to snag a spot for a good coffee chat, while everyone else is typing away on their keyboards with absolutely no conversation flowing. Nothing much can be done about this, but DVLB’s staff has been very helpful in suggesting potential seats that might free up soon or help move chairs around to accommodate a new group.

This cafe at Oakland actually banned laptops on weekends!

One of the reasons we started laptop-free weekends was that, by mid-morning on weekend days, most of our available seating would be taken by laptop users. This had a tremendous impact on the ambiance of the cafe. It felt claustrophobic to us. People stopped showing up with their families, and several folks complained about lack of space.

Once during a DVLB coffee chat, a laptop-user at the adjacent table actually hinted that our conversation was bothering her peace and moved to another table. Ah well, sorry for disturbing but this cafe is just so awesome for great conversations.

On the Table for Maple: (on different visits)

  1. Americano
  2. Cappuccino
  3. Latte

Ooooh, I love crema.

The sweetened cocoa powder gave the cappuccino an added oomph.

Requested a cappuccino with art. Ms.Barista said she failed but I think its a beauty, don’t you agree?

Thank to Mr. Barista, good ole’ latte with a smooth heart.

Good to the last drop.

Good times, good conversations. DVLB is growing on me.

Have a break, have a kit kat coffee.


1) $ – typical cafe price
2) Amazing ambiance, mysterious and charming
3) Serve-yourself style
4) Latte is pretty, but cappuccino tastes lovely

Death Valley's Little Brother Espresso Whisky Bar dvlb on Urbanspoon

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