When you slowly enter your kitchen in the morning, clad in your comfortable pyjamas, rubbing the sleep from your eyes, there is nothing better than the bitter, earthy smell of coffee to welcome you back to the land of the living! (Preferably a freshly made cup courtesy of your partner or housemate; those are the best mornings and the main reason why you do not live alone.)
So enter the woes of any traveller who needs a morning cuppa. Nothing spoils your morning than some sour, watery black liquid that is served by some uninterested, tea-loving waiter. The traveller would probably hightail it to the nearest Italian looking café or Starbucks. Enter all the hipster places who ask way too much money for their non-mainstream special cold brew made of rare Colombian hand-grinded coffee beans served in a cup from your grandma’s tea set. Or the international coffee chains with XL-matcha-flat-white-with-extra-unicorn-syrup they dare to call coffee. I can cry tears of joy when I finally find the one café that serves normal prized, good coffee and a comfortable space to sit down!
Montreal, as any other North American city, has plenty of coffee chains like Tim Horton, Van Houtte, Second Cup and Starbucks. For the love of all that is holy (a.k.a. coffee), please avoid those places! During my first week in Montreal I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to find good coffee while working and my opinion about the good taste of Montrealers was almost irreparably damaged. Luckily, an angel descended from heaven (or local guy in plain English) quickly pulled me out of Downtown and steered me towards the path of salvation; the Mile End and Plateau neighbourhoods which are indeed the best places for good coffee. Plenty of overpriced cafés as well, but let me highlight the best places I have found and keep the list short!
Need some space to work, drink coffee and maybe a snack during the afternoon? Café Plume on Avenue du Mont-Royal, Myriade on St- Denis and Arts Café on Avenue Fairmont are my favourites! All three are affordable, have super friendly staff, offer great food next to amazing coffee, and are great places to stay all day if you want.
Just chillin’ or enjoying your first cup of coffee in the morning? Grab a magazine and go sit outside at Café Olimpico on Rue Saint Viateur O. between the locals or choose one of the many good cafés at Rue Rachel Est. In Little Italy, San Simeon or Caffè Italia can provide you with a good, cheap cup of no-nonsense espresso to kickstart your morning!
Base line; there are many, many, many good cafés to find in Plateau, Mile End and Little Italy. Do not be afraid of caffeine deprivation during your stay in Montreal or drag along your portable, hipster coffee making set, or (the horror!) switch temporarily to drinking tea. Just stay clear of Downtown and Old Port when searching for a place to stay. Montreal is even more amazing if you can start your day properly with a good cup of that liquid heaven called coffee!
Check out the other letters and stories of the Montréal Food Critic’s Alphabet!