Note that this is just downtown, if you know of other good cafes with free WiFi (I am particularly interested in Kits, East Van, Gastown and Chinatown) let me know and/or send a report and I'll post it here.
There are plenty of cafes with Fatport i.e. non free WiFi, but I predict that this will fail. WiFi will be free just like water because it's cheaper to make it free than to bill. WiFi users order more coffee and food which is far more profitable for cafes than WiFi. Finally, WiFi is basically free since most restaurants need broadband Internet access anyways for their accounting and credit and debit card validation and WiFi routers and software are only a couple of hundred dollars and getting cheaper daily.
I personally would never have spent nearly the money and time at Take 5 without free WiFi and without free WiFi, I wouldn't have gone more than once to either Tree's or Artigiano (the coffee is good but I am not a coffee geek (yet) enough to go to a place just for the coffee!).
Without further ado, here are the best downtown Vancouver Cafes with free WiFi (in no particular order):
Take 5 Cafe at 429 Granville on the west side just south of Hastings
- 'my second office' sums it up, a place you can take business people to impress them and also take your friends to hang out
- everything is great here including the coffee and fab Italian food
- ambiance: cozy trendy chic, great place to relax and settle into their couches and plenty of room for impromptu meetings, lots of smartly dressed downtown business people and stock brockers as well as the usual downtown student and ESL crowd
- WiFi: you need to get the password from the staff
Caffe Artigiano at 740 West Hastings
- newest kid on the block for this award winning chainlet
- the absolute best espresso and great looking food which I haven't tried yet (their brunch, breakfast fruit cup and quiche, for example, look great)
- ambiance: Italian traditional trendy chic, not as big as Take 5, and there are no comfy couches but the Vespa inside is cool, again lots of smartly dressed people but also downtown student and ESL crowd
- WiFi: you need to get the password from the staff, there were a few opening glitches with it but it has worked fine the last two times I have been there
Trees Coffee on Granville opposite Take 5
- the original free WiFi cafe downtown
- coffee is OK, desserts are yummy, haven't tried the savouries
- ambiance: unpretentious chic, less business people more bohemian and student
- WiFi: only port 80 is allowed so you can't send email but this is no big deal since you probably shouldn't be sending email over an unencrypted channel on public WiFi anyway, if this doesn't make sense to you, get your friendly neighbourhood techie to explain!