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Pastel Rita
Photograph: Pastel Rita / @cafepastelrita

Here's where to find the best coffee in Montreal right now

From uptown to downtown, straight filters to cortados and dalgona, these cafés are making the best coffee in Montreal.

Written by
Katherine Sehl
,
JP Karwacki
&
Gregory Vodden
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UPDATE, October 2021: With the city reopening and students returning to schools throughout the city, finding cafés serving the best coffee in Montreal has never been more important. It's not just about the Wi-Fi and comfy seating, it's about the fuel that these places are making. We've no time for terrible cups of caffeine, so the following are only the highest of the top tier in town right now with five new names added.

Enjoying the best coffee in Montreal is one of the simplest pleasures around: It's high up on our selection of the best cheap things to do in Montreal when enjoyed in a café, part of a great breakfast with the best croissants or goods from the best bakeries, or taken to go and savoured in one of many Montreal parks during warmer months. With the city's huge student, freelancer, and tech startup populations come equally huge number of coffee shops to choose from, but it can be tough knowing which shops are the cream of the crop. Welcome to the only list of fourth-wave, micro-roaster, and Euro-style coffee bars on the island you'll ever need.

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Here’s where the time-honored pairing of coffee and donuts gets taken up a notch, with impeccably pulled shots and brilliant brews of beans sourced directly from the Canadian Roasting Society—a central hub for Montreal’s all-star indie coffee roasting scene— that are served alongside gobsmackingly good fried biscuit and brioche donuts you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Together, you’ve got a dreamy combo that puts Tunnel a cut above the rest. There’s no question about it: If you’re not a coffee connoisseur already, you’ll be one after tasting the goods here.

Best coffee in Montreal

Spacious, well-lit by daylight, and above all else, delicious coffee. Whether you're stopping by quickly for a quick drink and pastry, looking for somewhere to sit peacefully while reading a book for hours, or scouting out spots to work for all day,  working. It's an excellent spot overlooking the nearby Peace Park that's nonprofit, with every dollar spent going to nearly 900 artists, 250 employees, and over 50 researchers and teachers. Third-wave coffees and a selection of homemade iced teas and kombucha made with ingredients harvested from its rooftop garden are the best, but snack from Labo culinaire shouldn't be skipped.

Located in a heritage building around the corner from the McGill Ghetto, this piccolo-sized café is packed to its rafters with interior charm and wafts of Canadian roasts from Phil & Sebastian and Microtorrefacteur Saint-Henri. Tall windows, low-hanging industrial lamps, and intricate woodwork are found everywhere; even the espresso machine has timber panels, creating a cozy milieu for bookworms and coffee buffs. Order the signature Pikolo, a demitasse-sized cross between a ristretto shot and a silky latte, and enjoy pastries supplied by Hof Kelsten and Godley Gourmandises.

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Chefs like Chuck Hughes and the Joe Beef crew are among a chorus of local tastemakers to sing praises of Myriade. With three locations across the city—the ritziest of which is hidden sous-sol at the Club Monaco on Ste. Catherine downtown—this local chain was one of the first to kick off the city’s craft coffee scene. Helmed by champion barista Anthony Benda, blends from top Canadian roaster 49th Parallel are brewed on a Mirage Triplette and served alongside pastries from independent bakeries.

It didn’t take long for this café-by-day and resto-bar-by-night become a regular Little Portugal neighborhood hangout, thanks especially to its hours and its 150-seat capacity. A little bit steampunk and a little art deco, this brasserie-style space serves ambiance alongside cafés and lattés brewed with Toronto’s Pilot Coffee Roasters’ beans in addition to ciders, craft beers, and wines. Brunch here features a smorgasbord of open-faced smørrebrød sandwiches with fixings like beef tartare, mackerel, or salmon. Sink into a St. Laurent-facing tufted leather sofa with a plan to linger.

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What started as a café-on-wheels is now a multi-location café brand and brûlerie (roaster) with sustainably sourced beans that are now being dispatched across the country. Coffee connoisseurs should stop by the St. Laurent location’s long, Apple Genius Bar-inspired counter where baristas are more than happy to talk shop. Keep an eye on the event calendar, which often includes cuppings; that’s café-speak for tastings, and workshops on brewing techniques for everything from the Chemex and Clever Dripper to the V60 and Aeropress.

A Mile End haunt since the 1970s, this old-school Italian café serves up classic espressos and cappuccinos to a mix of soccer fans, Ubisoft developers, local literati and café habitués. Unlike most cafés in the city, this one’s open day and night. Devotees will tell you the secret Furfaro family blend is a cut above Lavazza and illy roasts, but the large outdoor terrace, soccer screenings and unpretentious vibe also play into the café’s popularity.

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A grand marble staircase ushers visitors into this café and co-working space, which has assumed quarters in the former command post of the Royal Bank of Canada in Old Montreal. Neoclassical ornate meets startup sleek as teleworkers charge up at Wi-Fi and outlet-equipped stations with Dispatch and Traffic Coffee Club brews under brass chandeliers and 50-foot-tall vaulted ceilings. Come for the mobile made-to-order drips, espressos and house-made tea elixirs, stay for the old-world opulence.

What started as a café on a bike serving cups on the street, there are now four locations that include neighbourhood cafés, its own spot for roasting in the city and a coffee laboratory for equipment, tastings and tests. That said: It goes without saying that anything under the Pista name is a coffee geek's paradise. Running roasts that are carefully sourced—plus a couple choice blends of their own creation—and serving them up any which way a caffeine junkie could want, their locations' sleek design from the Montreal firm mpgmb are just a pure plus for whiling away days.

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Located on the 5th floor of the high-end Montreal fashion retailer Ssense’s Old Port flagship boutique, the Beta Bar doesn't exactly serve coffee, but rather vegan drinks that are "adaptogenic", prepared with natural herbs and plants. About ten concoctions based on oat milk or water are offered, all characterized by their benefits. Current recommendations go to the "Neptune Revive" with its floral aromatic profile of kafir lime, tonka bean and juniper. Cloistered away, it's worth the detour.

With new industrial-sized headquarters near Jarry Park and satellite cafés dotted across the city, this pioneer of Quebec’s micro-roastery scene continues to expand well beyond its original neighborhood’s boundaries. Since you’ll find Saint-Henri’s roasts in many Montreal cafés, often brewed by alum from their in-depth barista training program, why not go straight to the source for an allongé amidst aficionados? The HQ includes a coffee lab, classroom, state-of-art café bar, greenhouses and on-site roastery.

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This café comes with two locations, one of which is tucked in a corner of the old Victoria arena where the first Stanley Cup was won by the Montreal Canadians. That means patrons can now choose between coffee alfresco on the roomy terrace of the original location, or a mugful with a hint of hockey novelty. The Prufrock College-trained couple behind this Monkland Village mainstay are just as well known for their home-baked sweets and latte art as they are for quality craft coffee.

Beyond being first to serve Montrealers the nitro cold brew, Paquebot’s menu boldly ventures into fresh territory with café-infused cocktails and other concoctions. With abundant greenery, exposed brick and walls of records, all three of this café’s locations give off chill hangout vibes and serve specialty beans from east-end roaster Zab. We recommend that you cool down in the summer with the Titonic, an epic mix of cold brew, homemade tonic, rhubarb bitters and lemon juice. Keep an eye out for the cold-brew trike, which makes the rounds across the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie part of town.

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Since 1979, this Little Italy institution has been the place for classic Italian espressos, freddos (iced coffee) and famously creamy cappuccinos. A laidback social club crowd spills out onto the patio when weather permits, all with cappuccinos and ricotta gelato in hand, with an intensified electricity come World Cup or Grand Prix season. Don’t expect frills like almond milk, Wi-Fi or even a debit machine here, save for a chocolate pump that drizzles hot Nutella over berries, biscotti, bomboloni and other dolce treats.

This Mile End institution serves Italian tradition with a modern twist. Think organic beans from Intelligentsia and 49th Parallel pulled on a 1960s-era Faema E61 espresso machine. As an early arriver to the city’s craft coffee scene, Gamba’s cultivated a devoted legion of café habituées that spill out onto their Parc Avenue terrace be it rain or shine. Caffè in Gamba is the sole establishment in la belle province to pull and sell blends from cult favorite Counter Culture Coffee, and is one of the city’s hotspots to sample the award-winning work of baristas in categories like latté art.

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With a snowflake for a logo and steamy late-night winter windows, Café Névé is synonymous with cozy. Both the original corner post on Rachel and the 500-square-foot nook on Mont-Royal are snug spots to hunker down with a laptop, latté, and a fresh-out-of-the-oven scone. A filtered mugful here is brewed from a Canadian-heavy slate of roasters. There’s always something new for the sweet-toothed patron as well, from Nutella lattes to new chewy cookies. Cold brews and branded keep-cups are available now, too.

There’s a lot going on in the Mile End multipurpose space, but rather than being a hectic mess, the space is warm and impossibly soothing. Pastel Rita is comprised of three separate segments: a boutique, an art workshop, and the café itself, which serves coffees, natural wines, and a surprisingly ambitious menu. These segments are all coloured and subtly demarcated from each other with fields of green, pink, gold and white. This expressive decor results in a truly unique space in which to enjoy a coffee, a glass of wine, or a bite to eat— and it serves as a fitting representation of all the creative forces working in harmony within the space.

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Coffee buffs may notice this Rosemont café’s name’s nod to the standard amount of milk steamed into a creamy latte and choose to order accordingly. But cappuccinos, with their six-ounce pours, are also made to excellent measure. For the indecisive, the third-wave café hosts regular free all-you-can-sip tastings. Sweets from Patrice Pâtissier and savory sandwiches prepared by house chef Raphaël complement roasts from their coffee made by Portland’s Tandem Roasters.

Although Station W’s original Wellington Street location has been open since 2013, the opening of their new location in the up-and-coming Technopôle Angus neighbourhood has really turned some heads. The new space’s dramatic, inviting architecture has people taking notice, and while the new outpost replicates the original’s commitment to fresh ingredients, homemade baked goods, and killer coffee, it’s managing to entice a whole new set of clientele that may not have ever made the trip to the original.

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Co-owners Yuko Toda and Frederik Froument bring fair-trade siphon coffee and a taste of Japan to Mile End’s industrial grey zone with their weekday-only café. With siphon-lined counters and bicycles hanging from exposed piping, this reclaimed warehouse space boasts a hipster-lab vibe that’s been noticed by more than a few Instagrammers. Coffee and onigiri may not seem to go hand in hand, but their onigiri lunch combo that comes with housemade soup or salad will have you thinking otherwise.

Small but mighty, this compact Plateau café squeezes roughly four seats indoors and eight on a patio that faces the Laurier metro station. The café keeps its footprint small with a steady rotation of eco-friendly roasters including New Zealand’s Escape, Kittel and Phil & Sebastien. Treats are supplied by Arhoma bakery, and scoops of Les Givrés ice cream are available come summer. Introduced early this year, their Noble Stout—brewed by Vilain Brasseurs and infused with de Mello Palheto-roasted cold brew—is already stirring up a buzz.

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Not all upper echelon coffee shops are fans of seeing all their patrons hang out for hours on their laptops. La Finca Coffee & Office not only tolerates its customers working on their laptops, but they actively encourage it. They serve thoughtful, well-made coffees from local roaster De Mello Palheta, and offer a range of tasty, sweet and savoury baked goods. There’s a small outdoor space for nice weather when the shop gets full, and there’s a private space for rent by the hour or by the day that is ideal for out-of-office meetings or collaborative work sessions.

Little brother to Lawrence restaurant and its boucherie, Larry’s may be better known for its refined fare, but its baristas pull a fine espresso too. Helmed by Myriade alum Keaton Ritchie and equipped with a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, the coffee service at this Mile End hole-in-the-wall favors distinctive blends from the likes of Portland’s Heart Coffee Roasters. Tempt taste buds early with Larry’s elevated take on a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich, or swing by later for beef tartare and the resto’s specialty Ghost Farm IPA.

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As the name suggests, this Westmount hotspot set an early standard for fourth-wave coffee in Montreal. Roasters are on regular rotation, but the café’s commitment to single-origin beans keeps the bar high and gilded—literally and figuratively. Dark walls, plush seating, and gold trimmings bring a lux touch to the small space. It’s not all about the noir here, however. Think pink: Beetroot lattes and a rosebud white tea are among the rosy alternatives for the over-caffeinated or caffeine-free inclined.

The stuff of dreams for vegetarians and vegans, Café Dei Campi is the collaborative project of barista Nicola Vardaro (previously of Caffè San Simeon) and pastry chef Isabelle Duchamps (previously of Toqué!). Since opening in 2016, it has slowly been gaining traction, and vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores from all over town are starting to frequent this unassuming Rosemont neighbourhood café for its almost-too-good-to-be-true vegan baked goods and rock-solid coffee program.

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Montreal is a long way from Australia, and apart from one or two outliers, there aren’t a lot of Australian inspired luminaries amongst Montreal’s food and drink scene. Café Melbourne, though, is just one such outlier, and its serious coffee game and consistently good brunch contribute to making the Plateau a sunnier place—at least in spirit. Heck, they even roast their own coffee beans. Something very few Montreal cafés can boast.

Catering to the Village and UQAM student crowds, this third-wave espresso bar specializes in Aeropressed concoctions. Single-origin roasts prevail, and vegan-friendly options like the signature lattes with almond-coconut milk abound in this checker-floored café. While there, try a Blume super-food latte. Made in Vancouver, these caffeine-free blends come in turmeric, matcha and beetroot flavours and add a punch of colour to the team’s famed latte-art creations.

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A different specialty brewer takes center stage every month at this hip café’s two downtown locations. Ask the barista for their take on tasting notes as they pull espressos on the turquoise La Marzocco Strada EP espresso machine or prepare coffees with the pour-over technique. A not-so-humble entourage of scones, croissants, and tarts provided by Hof Kelsten and Godley Gourmandises round out the café’s offerings. If that’s not enough sweetness, the maple latte packs both a sugar rush and java jolt into a single cup.

Tommy Café
Photograph: Tommy Café / tommymontreal.com

28. Tommy Café

Now with two locations in Old Montreal, Tommy Café + Apéro combines a contemporary coffee program, a light breakfast and brunch menu, mid-century modern furnishings, and old-world architectural notes to create a bright, upscale neighbourhood coffee shop environment. Tommy Café works well for a quick coffee while you’re touring the Old Port, a relaxing afternoon drink, or even as a potential space for an upcoming event. World's your oyster at either location.

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Saint-Henri’s worst kept secret is this backdoor café-bar, tucked around the back of Elena Pizzeria. Saddle up to the horseshoe-shaped marble-top counter for natural coffee sourced from de Mello Palheto Roasters and Italian pastries like cornetto and cannoli. Come afternoon and night, the counter switches to a pizza-by-the-slice and natural wine service. When it’s warmer, try to nab a spot in their high-fenced terrace and garden as it makes for clandestine dining al fresco.

Mano Figa
Photograph: @manofigamtl / Instagram

30. Mano Figa

Taking over the small adjacent space to one of Griffintown's most popular restaurants Mano Cornuto, Mano Figa serves several Italian pastries, focaccia pizza and coffee exclusively to go, though it can be sipped as you peruse their selection in store that's heavy on the accessories alongside some gourmet products. Creating a neighbourhood anchor, it's a pure and simple Italian hangout that fresher than the more time-honored spots in the city.

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Whether you prefer Italian roasts or third wave variations, Micro Espresso Café is one of the most specialized coffee shops in Old Montreal—and that's saying a lot when considering how small of a space it inhabits. From the espresso to the manual filter with their baristas' latest discoveries, this is a perfect spot to simply walk up to window, order up, and enjoy the scenery of the neighbourhood as you wait.

Stressed out? Need a place to unwind? It's time to take a Swedish fika coffee break at La Dépendance. Lavender lattes and kanelbullar in hand, take the time to "take time" while enjoying the pure Scandinavian design and browsing the beautiful products of this address's boutique. They're making some superb coffee if you're in need of a productive work day and provide ample space for coworking.

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Located just off the busy streets of Old Montreal, you'll quickly thank yourself for taking the detour to enjoy the coffee here, but a taste of the homemade goods made entirely in-house will remove any lingering doubts from your mind. Cheesecake, carrot cake, blondies, and more will satiate if the coffee hasn't already, let alone an absolutely adorable setting that Instagrammers can't seem to get enough of to show off outfits. It's just one of the more picturesque settings to visit, plain and simple.

Located in the Mile End, Éclair is space that blends making good coffee while serving choice literature from a microlibrary that's curated by staff. Put together by a crack team of café pros and Montreal restaurateurs—Miranda Ho, Daniel Alvarez (Café Différance and Monopole), Chantale Potié, Hubert Marsolais (Le Club Chasse et Pêche) and Jean-Frédéric Laberge—the idea is to take up a stool at the center bar to be served both coffees and pastries (éclairs and beyond) sourced from all across the Plateau and its best bakeries.

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Built by two brothers in 2016 as a small corner coffee shop, L'Étincelle has grown into a huge neighbourhood following that—by our count—is entirely due to consistency and atmosphere. Owners Rémy and Benjamin are almost always present, the pastries are fresh, and the pandemic has only strengthened their offerings in terms of their own roasts and gourmet products. If the beverages and food doesn't convince you, the absolute coziness of its vibes will.

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