Indie coffee shops in Montréal, by the neighbourhood

JP Karwacki

JP Karwacki is a Montréal-based writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Time Magazine, the Montreal Gazette, National Post, Time Out, NUVO Magazine, and more. Having called the city home for over a decade and a half, he regularly focuses on spreading the good word about the amazing things to eat, drink and do in Montréal. One half raconteur and the other flâneur (with just a dash of boulevardier), when he wasn’t working on the frontlines of the city's restaurants and bars, he spent his time thinking about, reading about and writing about restaurants and bars.

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This article was updated on May 20, 2022.

Visits to Montréal’s indie coffee shops tend to reveal an exacting cross-section of the city’s cultural scene. In one room buzzing from carefully chosen roasts, there are as many chatty friends and students on coffee dates and breaks as there are lovelorn artists and blossoming novelists writing the next great Montréal novel (that’s how Sean Michaels penned his award-winning debut Us Conductors, anyway). Whether it’s for a cup of joe to start the day or an espresso after the sun’s gone down, these addresses ought to deliver just the right jolt. 

 

OLD MONTRÉAL

 

Le Petit Dep

179 Saint-Paul Street West (and other locations) | Website

This dépanneur focused on stocking an all-Québec selection of products is just for window shopping: Each of its four locations both on and off the Island of Montréal sport adorable cafés serving coffee from the Vancouver-based 49th Parallel and Toronto-based Demello.

 

Café Olimpico

419 Saint-Vincent Street (and other locations) | Website

Its Mile End address may be the original local institution, but any one of Olimpico’s locations throughout Montréal carry its torch well. Wherever you go, you’ll find espresso and cappuccinos with the café’s own roasts from morning until late at night, all served with an unwavering consistency.

 

 

Crew Collective & Café

360 Saint-Jacques Street | Website

Located inside an old Royal Bank of Canada branch that dates back to the 1920s, this expansive café’s 100 seats are regularly filled with locals and visitors from abroad who gawk at its marble floors and vaulted ceilings of painted plaster. While the coffee is a drawcard, be sure to pick up one of its pastries sourced from bakeries across the city.

 

DOWNTOWN

Shaughnessy Café

1455 Lambert-Closse Street | Website

This reliable sub-basement haunt for Concordia University and Dawson College students keeps its patrons awake by serving as many as seven different roasters at one time, and that’s quite a lot when considering its 20 seats. It’s small, but comfy, just as the owners intended it to be when they opened it in 2016.

 

Café Myriade

1432 Mackay Street (and other locations)Website

With now five branches scattered across Montréal, Café Myriade is not only beloved by Instagrammers thanks to the Nordic-inspired décor of their locations, but also by local coffee aficionados, as their grains are sourced from the fair-trade 49th Parallel Roasters in Vancouver as well as all kinds of guest roasters across North America and Europe.

 

Pikolo Espresso Bar

3418B du Parc AvenueWebsite

A student favourite because of its central location between McGill and UQÀM universities, Pikolo is among the most picturesque shops in the city. This two-level café is mostly famous for its miniature 3-ounce creamy lattes, made with single origin beans from Heart Coffee Roasters in Portland.

 

Osmo X Marusan

51 Sherbrooke Street West | Website

This Japanese-style café for sipping and noshing is the result of a merger between the student haunt of Osmo Café and the Japanese restaurant Marusan when the latter left Old Montréal. The result is a sleek space that’s audiophile-friendly, as good for a cup of coffee and it is for a glass of sake when listening to its DJs set the mood.

 

Café Constance

1435 De Bleury Street | Website

Located in the Wilder Building, home to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Café Constance was beautifully designed by none other than Zébulon Perron. The stunning décor includes lamps that look like floating ballet skirts. It's the perfect spot if you enjoy a side of inspiration and whimsy with your latte. 

Café SAT

 6 Place du Marché | Website

This non-profit café connected to the Société des arts technologies (SAT) is just as much of areliable study space as it is a hangout for those whiling away hours with drinks and snacks until they can catch a audio-visual performance upstairs. Its bright interior and upstairs terrasse set it apart from the pack, but the address keeps things humble with its relaxing, take-your-time vibes.

 

SAINT-HENRI

Cordova

4606 Notre-Dame Street West | Website

For a slice of Saint-Henri’s lackadaisical lifestyle, grab a spot on this café’s terrasse in the summertime and watch the hours melt away as you sip a cup of roasts from both Montréal and afar in Canada. If hunger strikes, dip into their selection of conservas or split a sandwich.

 

Dreamy

3780 Saint-Patrick Street | Website

Anyone who considers themselves to be coffee afficionados would do well to visit this café and bakery alongside the Lachine Canal. Dreamy’s coffee inventory is sourced directly from the Canadian Roasting Society, the city’s first co-roasting facility where coffee roasters come to prepare their product for the market, making it perfect for tapping into both the local and international coffee scene.

 

HOCHELAGA-MAISONNEUVE

 

Hélico

4255 Ontario Street East | Website

Created to be the daytime counterpart to the neighbourhood fine dining establishment Hélicoptère, this is where pastry chef Melodie Perez-Mousseau kouign-amann and croissants hit a high note. When they come fresh out of the oven in the morning, pair them with a cup made with Montréal roaster Kittel, and it’s bound to set a pleasant mood for the rest of the day.

 

VERDUN

Station W

3852 Wellington Street and 2600 William-Tremblay Street | Website

Whether it’s the location in Verdun or in Angus, Station W excels at serving up a tried-and-true café experience. Sunny interiors are filled with coffee lovers noshing on their in-house menus of sandwiches and pastries as they sip at pour-overs made with Montréal’s own Kittel coffee roasters.

 

Pavillon Snack Bar

5200 Wellington Street | Website

This new, caffeinated blood on Montréal’s café scene may seem way off the beaten track to some, but it will invariably feel like home after that first sip. Fashioned after Verdun establishment from the old days, it’s been a resounding success with locals who flock for their banana bread, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee made with Montréal-based Escape Coffee Roasters.

 

Boulangerie Rustique Sweet Lee’s

4150 Wellington Street | Website

This rustic bakery / coffee shop in Verdun quickly became a local favourite after it opened this standalone location in 2012. Their espresso bar, sourced by Montréal-based Café Saint Henri Micro Torréfacteur, is just as appreciated as their decadent pastries and vegetarian lunch menu.

 

POINTE-SAINT-CHARLES

Café Bloom

1940 Centre Street | Website

Good for coffee any day of the week, this address doubles as a brunch destination with a French toast locals swear by. This café took its name from the main character of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and true to form, artist-types tend to flock in each day for its bright and colourful interior and cups of coffee made with Montréal’s own Kittel roasters.

 

Clarke Café

2483 Centre Street | Website

Don’t be spooked by the lineups outside this Italian café; service at this revived Mile End haunt transported to southwestern Montréal is lightning quick. Order up one of their ‘sangwiches’, a strong espresso or two, and round it all out with zeppole or cannoli for the full experience.

 

Café Redwood

2604 Saint-Patrick Street | Website

Across from the Lachine Canal and just a few minutes' walk from Atwater Market, Café Redwood's elegant, minimalist design makes it a perfect spot to relax, read, study or get a little work done on your laptop. The friendly baristas make every coffee (or matcha or London Fog) with loving care and the pastries are decadently delicious.

 

VILLERAY , SAINT-MICHEL & PARC-EXTENSION

 

Café Paquebot

2110 Bélanger Street (and other locations) | Website

Paquebot has seen an exponential expansion since its beginnings in 2015. What began with a specialization in nitro cold brews has since expanded into serving draft lattes and coffee-based cocktails like a café-lemonade fizz, all made with Montréal-based coffee roaster Zab.

 

Saison des pluies

301 Guizot Street East | Website

The name says it all: From its minimal, broody interior design to its stay-all-day menus of coffee and crafty menus, this café is happy to host those looking for a place to while away a rainy day. It was tough times for this spot when it opened in 2020, but its charm and attentive service have made for a winning combination.

 

PLATEAU

 

Le Darling

4328 Saint-Laurent Boulevard | Website

Darling’s plant-filled and vanity light-riddled interior with leather fixtures excels as one of the city’s most Instagrammable places to grab a café au lait and pastry. Fashioned as an all-day locale, feel free to switch from caffeine to cocktails as the sun goes down and bar service picks up by night.

 

Caffè in Gamba

5263 du Parc Avenue and 71 Saint-Viateur Street East | Website

With its award-winning barista and co-owner Simon-Pierre Caron pulling the shots at this Mile End café, you’ll be hard-pressed to have a bad cup. Serving coffee from 49th Parallel Roasters, the staff are more than happy to discuss the degree of precision they approach their coffee from (and their latte art game is on point, too).

 

Café Névé

151 Rachel Street East (and other locations) | Website

This Plateau café and its small grab-and-go offshoots excel at well-done coffee sourced from Pilot Roasters that’s served in comfy, worn wood décor. Whichever location you go to, they’re all well-positioned to spend hours there with a novel or good company.

 

Café chez Téta

227 Rachel Street East | Website

Combining the offerings of a third wave café with the kind of establishment you’d find on the streets of Beirut, this Lebanese establishment serves all the usual suspects, plus bona fide strong kahweh (Lebanese coffee) made with fine grounds in hot sand with just a touch of cardamom.

 

JP Karwacki

JP Karwacki is a Montréal-based writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Time Magazine, the Montreal Gazette, National Post, Time Out, NUVO Magazine, and more. Having called the city home for over a decade and a half, he regularly focuses on spreading the good word about the amazing things to eat, drink and do in Montréal. One half raconteur and the other flâneur (with just a dash of boulevardier), when he wasn’t working on the frontlines of the city's restaurants and bars, he spent his time thinking about, reading about and writing about restaurants and bars.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

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