Planning to spend some time in Montreal? Looking to drink some good coffee, and catch some cool atmospheres? Tune in and see if any of my top spots sound like an experience you might be looking for!
There was no criteria to what I was looking for while in Montreal outside of it being specialty, high quality coffee, hopefully prepared properly.
To start, if you are not aware, Montreal is heavily french inspired. I could certainly see this transition into the coffee culture as well. Although I have never been to Europe to consume coffee...yet, from what I have heard the cafe scene seemed to be a solid balance between European and American coffee culture. Every store of every kind not only served coffee, but also had an espresso machine. Clothing stores, Salons, most restaurants and more. That being said, most of these places did not focus on the coffee, rather it was just a nice add-on for those looking for a quick and convenient fix. In addition to the European inspiration, I could tell there were far more people who were looking for that quick shot of espresso, or coffee to go, as they travel about their days. We see this commonly in the US at larger chains, supplying coffee to those who are too busy to sit and stay. In Montreal, this seemed far more common even for the smaller independent specialty shops, which I think is awesome.
Now to the good stuff, in no particular order.
Serving coffee from - 49th Parallel – Vancouver, Canada
Pulling shots on - Kees Van Der Westen Spirit espresso machine
Grinding Coffee with – Mahlkonig Peak Grinder
This Cafe was fairly small, but that did not stop them from filling it to the brim with seating. I was honestly shocked to see that they managed to fit 10 tables, 21 seats in such a small space, but it worked.
Myriade seems to have a hardcore following, as every seat was full, and the line continued to grow out the door on a standard weekday afternoon. The equipment they were using was top notch, I even noticed some very new to the market coffee tools. This tells me they are passionate about their craft, and interested in investing in what helps make their coffee as great as it was.
The customer service was simple and to the point. I had a few questions, and they were happy to answer, even in the rush.
I had a shot of “old school espresso” from 49th Parallel Coffee roasters. It was rich with a heavy chocolaty body, followed by this awesome apple like sweetness, making for a very enjoyable and well executed shot.
Bottom line: if you are looking for a place to do work, this might not be the best spot. If you are looking to catch up with a friend, or grab some coffee to go, Its certainly worth checking out, I wouldn’t mention it if it wasn't!
Serving coffee from - Pigeon (roasted off site) and Stumptown Coffee
pulling shots on – La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine
Grinding espresso with - Mazzer Robur E
This spot has to be the smallest brick & mortar coffee shop I have ever been to. It had to be under 200Sq. Ft. which I appreciated, considering Misfit is only 100sq. ft.
You cant help to immediately notice their unique branding. “world worst coffee” “make americanos great again” they even have the word “WORST” tiled into the wall! Its catchy, funny, and not true...the coffee was great! Speaking of which, this was the only shop I noticed selling coffee from a provider in the US: Stumptown, which was cool. Getting a product from the US takes more time and money, that didn’t stop them from having a product that might be more familiar for visitors, while possibly being more sought after from locals.
This shop is definitely intended to cater to the people on the street looking for a quick warm up and caffeine buzz. Pigeon had 5 seats, with a counter that could fit a envelope sized piece of paper, luckily that was all I needed for my quick cup of pigeon drip coffee. I am not sure exactly what it was that I was drinking, but it was highly enjoyable, with notes of rosemary, a peach sweetness, and a light tobacco-like body.
As for atmosphere, it was well lit, and the high ceiling was completely consumed with vibrant green plants. I have never seen something like this before, but It made for a very fresh, earthy, and unique atmosphere.
Bottom line: this is not a destination, nor is it a place to hangout. Pigeon Coffee is a place to get a great coffee beverage, and a vibe polar opposite to the snowy streets, while you wait. I would say this place is pretty Instagramable, if thats what you are into.
Serving coffee from
- Neve (roasted off site)
Anchored Coffee in Nova Scotia
Pulling shots on - Nuova Simonelli Aurelia espresso machine
Grinding espresso with - ?
This coffee stop is pretty popular so I hear, and see online. Frankly, its very simple. A simple coffee and espresso bar, with one long 12 seat conference table, as well as a small 2 seat side table. To be honest, I was surprised to see how comfortable people were, being in such close quarters, but this something I appreciate very much. The crowd was mixed, some people just chatting, others doing work, and others just coming in, to hit the sidewalk with their to-go coffee. It felt and appeared to be more of a “students” coffee joint. I had a Cortado and found it to be fairly average, nothing to write home about. The chocolate chip cookies on the other hand were OUT OF THIS WORLD, As was their music selection. Appealing to me, maybe not so much to other crowds, the barista was dancing and making coffee to Mac Miller's “ Divine Feminine album, which truth be told is pretty much hip “love-making” music. As much as I do enjoy this album, I more so enjoyed seeing the barista in her zone, with her tunes, doing her thing, and loving her job. I know what it feels like to work a bar, where you control the vibes of the shop, and I was happy to see her taking advantage of it.
Bottom line: If you are strictly looking for the best coffee, I wouldn't say this is your spot, but if you happen to be in the area its worth checking out, especially if your craving a sweet treat!
Serving coffee from – Dispatch Coffee roasters, Montreal (roasted off site)
pulling shots on – Custom La Marzocco Linea PB
Grinding espresso - Nuova Simonelli mythos
Manual brew – Aeropress
Dispatch Coffee was a must on my list, not only because they just opened this new cafe, more-so because similarly to Misfit, they started out as a coffee truck (they still operate in it during the warmer summer months)
I walked by the space a few times before having a moment to go in and enjoy a drink. At first glance through the window I thought the space almost seemed to plain and bland, lacking coziness and comfort, this was later amended. I was initially greeted with cheerful baristas, a lot of high end brewing gear, and a ton of origin offerings for both brewing as coffee, and purchasing. I had a delicious Aeropress of Rwanda Kanzu with notes of molasses bread with butter, and plum. I also ordered a shot of espresso, but was too caught up in the experience to jot down notes. The baristas were kind enough to let me take photos, answer my questions, and even teach me “their way” on the Aeropress bar (which I have now brought to Misfits own brew bar recipe book)
The bar buildout was beautifully, and well designed for any barista looking to take their job seriously. It appeared to be spacious, functional, and filled with the newest industry equipment. Everything, including their water kettles had scales. Dispatch does not fall short of striving for perfection, and that was apparent in my cup of coffee. As for seating, they offer a few styles such as benches, tables and chairs. Whether you are trying to get some work done, read a book, meet with a friend, even a group of friends, the space is large enough, and versatile enough to cater your needs.
Bottom line: check Dispatch out, it's worth it. As mentioned, cozy would not be the word to describe it, but the atmosphere was cool, unique, and versatile. The vibes were great all around, the baristas were informative and lastly, the coffee was some of the best I had in Montreal
Pikolo Espresso Bar
Serving coffee from
49th Parellel Coffee Roasters – Vancouver, Canada
Phil & Sebastian coffee roasters – Calgary, Canada
pulling shots on – Kees Van Der Westen Mirage
Grinding espresso with – Mahlkonig Peak Espresso Grinder
Pikolo Espresso Bar is a cool, high ceiling lofted cafe, with seating on ground level, as well as in the loft area. The space is outfitted with oldschool and unique retro-industrial décor. It has a slightly beaten up and worn feel, apposed to some super sleek shops. This “worn” characteristic seems to be more inviting to any passerby then say an upscale / high class design which I feel can sometimes add pressure to people new to the specialty coffee scene.
The baristas were extremely sweet and helpful. Happy to chat, talk shop, and know about your day. I would say Pikolo offered one of the better customer service experiences of the shops I visited in Montreal. The staff seemed to be enjoying themselves, the customers, and their craft. The balance of seriousness and playfulness was spot on with what I look for in a shop.
For my beverage I ordered a shot of espresso from Phil & Sebastian Coffee roasters ( Colombia Jerico) I didn’t take notes on this coffee, but I do recall it being delightful, complex and balanced. In my books this qualified as well executed, and dialed shot of espresso!
Bottom line: This shop is a great multi-use space, with great coffee. Plenty of seating for all sorts of activities, super friendly baristas, and it definitely offers a vibe that differs from other specialty shops in Montreal.
lastly, I said these were in no particular order, although I did save the best for last, (in my opinion.)
Serving coffee from – Cantook Coffee Roasters – Quebec City, Canada
pulling shots on – La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine
Grinding espresso with - Mazzer Robur E
Manuel Brew – French press, V60, Chemex
Cafe Spoon is a newer arrival to the Montreal Coffee Scene, with a sister soup business located above the coffee shop (Soup Spoon, the soup is also avaible for purchase in the cafe, and it was seriously tasty!)
Cafe Spoon instantly grabbed my attention as I was walking down the sidewalk, peering through windows to the basement business when I saw what appeared to be a gorgeous basement cafe, It was like love at first sight.
Walking in, I was blown away with the layout and interior design of the space: inviting, refreshing, simple and bright. In my opinion the design was as perfect and fitting for the space as it ever could be. Green plants all over, tile floor, rounded tile espresso bar, copper plumbing that doubled as beautiful ceiling art, light wood, with leather seats, it truly was everything I was hoping to come across while in Montreal. They had various styles of seating: tables, benches, bay window seating, whatever your plans are, they can likely accommodate in terms of seating.
So, the space was amazing, now what about the coffee? Upon ordering, I noticed they were serving a coffee who's branding is some of my favorite I have ever seen on the internet (Cantook Coffee) and I was seriously excited to see if the coffee, lived up to the branding. I visited this shop on multiple occasions during my stay in Montreal to try the coffee in various forms. The first time I ordered a shot of Waykan Espresso from Guatemala Huehuetenango. It was served properly in a cute aqua espresso cup with a matching saucer and spoon. I was absolutely blown away with this shot. It honestly had to be one of the best espresso shots I have had in the last 6 months, including the hundreds I have pulled at my own cafe. Sweet, spicy, full of body and complexity. I could easily be happy drinking this espresso at anytime of the day, everyday. That being said, due to the complexity of this espresso I felt it functioned better as a stand-alone espresso than something you would add to a milk beverage like the cortado I had at a later date. The cortado was great, but I prefer something slightly roastier and bold to pair with milk based beverages. Furthermore, I had that same Guatemala as a drip coffee which was equally delightful as the espresso, but slightly more dialed back and smooth. The spice and sweetness was still the focus in brewed coffee form. If I could do it all over again, I would have probably bought two bags of this coffee to bring home, it was that amazing!
The Barista was very sweet, welcoming, informative and educated.
Bottom line: If you only had one slot of time to check out a cool shop, for either the atmosphere, or quality of the coffee, this is your place.
Follow up all of this coffee with a jaw-dropping cocktail menu at The Lab
Find the BEST poutine in Old Montreal at Montreal Poutine
Find the BEST bagels in Montreal at St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe Mont-Royal
Hope this helps you find YOUR perfect cup of coffee!