For a long time commercial coffee shops such as Starbucks and Second Cup have ruled the coffee shop market in Montreal. As a result, the independent coffee shops struggle. It's not easy paying prime real estate rent selling $3 coffee and scrambling to keep your prices competitive with the big chains. There is one thing, however, that commercial chains can rarely offer and that is authenticity, charm, and personalized customer experience.
In a climate of faceless commercial cafes stepping into an independently owned cafe can feel like a true escape into an urban oasis. Local entrepreneurs work hard to create and a unique and memorable experience for their customers.
Let's keep these Montreal business alive! Take the time to visit local coffee shops. Grab a cup, a quick lunch, or a full brown - and support these growing businesses. Over the next few pages we will look at some key coffee shops in Montreal: some are brand new, some have been around for some time, but all provide a unique experience that a Starbucks could never offer.
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Where: 2051 Rue De La Montagne // Downtown
Why you should go: Cafe Leaves is a truly unique cafe concept. The space is minimal, open and airy. Bring your laptop and stay all day!
Cafe Baba Yaga
Where: 3279 Rue Saint Jacques // St-Henri
Why you should go: Cafe Baba Yaga specializes in Eastern European sweet and savoury delights. It's a great place for a full brunch, light snack, or anything in between.
Where: 500 Rue Beaubien East // Rosemont
Why you should go: Cafe Pista is a charming, airy, and bright little Petite Patrie gem. It serves light food options such as granola and fresh sandwiches, but the coffee is obviously a must-try.
Where: 4615 Saint-Laurent // Plateau
Why you should go: Cafe Melbourne - a unique concept i've never seen in Montreal - specializes in Australian treats and serves a healthy, fresh, and whole looking brunch all weekend.
Where: 433 Mayor // Downtown
Why you should go: Cafe Parvis is one of my favs. Tucked away on Mayor street, you would never know it's there unless someone told you. The atmosphere is warm and relaxing. The food is also outstanding. But you can just go for a quick cup, if that's your thing.
Where: 151 Rachel East // Plateau
Why you should go: Cafe Névé has been around for a bit now. It's a Plateau staple for a warm latte in the winter or fresh homemade lemonade in the summer. There is really no going wrong with a visit to this charming Plateau gem.
Cafe Dei Campi
Where: 1360 Rosemont // Rosemont
Why you should go: Cafe Dei Campi makes mega tasty vegan Italian-style pastries. Yes, I said vegan pastries! Served in a warm and cozy atmosphere, this is a great place to visit on the weekends.
Where: 1486 Rue Saint Catherine East // Guy-Concordia
Why you should go: Cafe Jouney is a brand new a Mediterranean-style cafe serving delicious Lebanese sweet and savoury baked goods and also coffee. Stay all day on your laptop!
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Where: 6312 Monkland // N.D.G
Why you should go: Cafe De Mercanti is an Italian cafe for all of you who live out in NDG. Serving classic Italian-style pastries and yummy lattes, it's a great place to bring the fam on the weekend.
Where: 1041 Van Horne // Outremont
Why you should go: With a perfectly minimal yet warm environment this new Outremont gem stand-out on Van Horne Avenue. They serve coffee, but also delicious looking brunch and lunch every day.
Where: 940 Rue Du Centre // Verdun
Why you should go: Cafe Bloom opened recently in the quickly gentrifying borough of Verdun. Its lovely Mediterranean-inspired decor is perfect to sip a coffee or for a 3-hour Sunday brunch with friends.
Where: 1202 Bishop // Downtown
Why you should go: Parma Cafe is a contemporary-style Italian cafe that serves classic Italian lunch fare such as panini and pasta. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, perfect for a casual business lunch.
Perles et Paddock
Where: 403 Rue Des Seigneurs // Old Port
Why you should go: This Old Port gem is a truly special. They are a restaurant at night but also doubles as a cafe during the day. Serving beautiful contemporary dishes in a genuinely original space.
Where: 252 Rachel East // Plateau
Why you should go: Cafe Replika is a Plateau staple for the laptop crowd. It's a genuine cafe, serving lattes with little foam hearts and light pastries on the side. Perfect spot for that coffee date.
September Surf Cafe
Where: 2471 Notre Dame West // Griffintown
Why you should go: September Surf Cafe is a hybrid coffee shop and surfboard workshop. It doesn't get more hipster-y than that. Jokes aside, the space is very relaxing and the coffee is actually good. A great spot for working with your laptop.
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Le Club Espresso Bar
Where: 3801 Rue Saint-Denis // Plateau
Why you should go: This cafe is also part of the hybrid cafe concepts: fusing an espresso bar with a bicycle shop. So you can sip on a tasty espresso while waiting for your bike to get tuned up. Perfect.
Where: 123 Mont-Royal West // Plateau
Why you should go: Cafe Paquebot is a super cute and ultra-trendy coffee shop that now has two locations in Montreal. Offering a vast menu of specialty coffees and yummy pastries, it's perfect for an afternoon coffee date.
Where: 3764 St-Dominique // Plateau
Why you should go: Cafe 89 is a charming and eclectic little Plateau cafe. Its vibe is inviting and is the perfect spot to laze away a weekend afternoon with one special friend or five.
Cafe La Rue Et Fils Jarry
Where: 405 Jarry Est // Rosemont
Why you should go: This cafe is a dream. It literally has everything you ever wanted in a neighborhood cafe. It's cozy and inviting and serves up an awesome cup of java. Perfect for an afternoon laptop session.
Where: 3422 Notre Dame West // Saint Henri
Why you should go: Cafe Farina interior fuses warm and rich tone of velvety deep blue with contemporary accents of sleek marble. In short, it's beautiful. It's a truly pleasant and airy space to sip on one of their many speciality drinks. Stop for a bite, too. They have a small menu of light breakfast food.
Cycles C&L Rachel
Where: 978 Rachel East // Plateau
Why you should go: This spot makes the cut because I truly love a good hybrid concept. This small independent Plateau business one is a bike shop plus coffee counter. A visit to Cycles C&L Rachel is a great way to get your bike tuned up and support a local shop!
Where: 151 Rue Villeray // Villeray/Rosemont
Why you should go: Cafe Vito made the list because I'm biased and it's my favorite place to pop in and get a coffee when I'm hanging around the Jean-Talon area. It's a very small space that focuses on one thing - amazing Italian coffee.
Where: 51 Sherbrooke Street West // Downtown
Why you should go: This funky little spot is located right in the heart of the Place Des Arts district. Its eclectic decor is complemented by some delicious looking fresh and tasty breakfast and lunch menu options. Perfect place to bring those out-of-town friends for lunch.
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Crew Collective Cafe
Where: 360 Rue St-Jacques // Old Port
Why you should go: This cafe is truly impressive: not only in terms of the actual space but the concept as well. Crew Collective is a hybrid co-working space and cafe. It's located in a stunning historic financial building in the old port, making the experience that much more memorable.
Where: 200 Notre Dame West // Old Port
Why you should go: This cafe is a little gem of the old port, truly beautiful open and airy space. Makes you feel like you've traveled to New York for a second. They serve all kinds of specialty drinks along with a beautiful meu of lunch and breakfast options.
Where: 378 Saint-Paul West // Old Port
Why you should go: Maison Pepin is a hidden treasure in the Old Port. It's a hybrid concept: coffee counter and lifestyle boutique selling a wide selection of carefully curated products. A visit to Maison Pepin is a great way to support local artists and entrepreneurs!
La Finca Cafe & Bureau
Where: 1068 De Bleaury // Downtown
Why you should go: This cafe is another type of hybrid co-working space and cafe. Some local cafes these days will dissuade their customer from staying on their laptops all day, but this one definitely encourages you to.
Where: 308 Saint Catherine Est // Quartier Latin
Why you should go: This pretty little cafe/bar is located right near Berri UQUAM Metro and right next to the Village. Perfect for all you students in the area looking for a fun brunch spot for the weekend or drink spot in the evening.
Where: 1251 Rue De Champlain // Village
Why you should go: Super inviting local cafe where you will be treated like family every time. With all the faceless Starbucks and commercial coffee shops around, Eugene Cafe is the type of place Montreal desperately needs.
Le Elsdale Cafe-Boutique
Where: 2381 Beaubien East // Petite Patrie
Why you should go: This Cafe is a boutique and cafe hybrid in the gentrifying borough of Petite Patrie. They also serve some very tasty looking breakfast and lunch dishes.
Where: 719 Rue William // Old Port
Why you should go: This resto/cafe is truly beautiful, a gem of a place. It's the kinda place you want to bring all your girlfriends for Sunday brunch and stay all day long.
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Where: 3734 Notre Dame West // Griffintown
Why you should go: This resto-cafe specializes in Mediterranean-inspired tapas - and also brunch on the weekends! You can visit during the day and only grab a coffee if that's more your speed though and enjoy the beautiful and eclectic decor.
Where: Multiple locations
Why you should go: With three locations across the city Cacao 70 is for those true chocolate lovers out there. Serving a vast menu of dessert and specialty beverage options, this is the place to go when you're feeling ultra-indulgent.
Where: 900 Renée-Levesque West // Downtown
Marché La Pantry
Where: 4207 Notre Dame West // St-Henri
Why you should go: This is a St-Henri coffee shop and bakery that's got a heavy french-inspired vibe to it. With a charming and rustic facade, the interior will please you just as much as the outside. Grab a quick coffee or stay for lunch.
Where: 4328 Saint Laurent // Plateau
Why you should go: This is a cafe during the day and a bar at night. Or vice-versa - we don't judge anyone's lifestyle here. The interior is beautiful, mixing lush house plants and vintage-inspired quirky deco. It's a no-fail choice for the first Tinder date.
La Bete a Pain
Where: 114 Fleury East // Rosemont (second location in Griffintown)
Why you should go: The good people of La Bete a Pain are true pastry experts. If you're feeling indulgent, head down to one of their two locations and indulge in a sweet treat.
Cafe Humble Lion
Where: 904 Rue Sherbrooke West // Downtown
Why you should go: This is a charming little spot right near Mcgill campus. It's a great spot to grab a quick cup of seriously strong espresso before that all-nighter. Or enjoy the ambiance and sip a cup with a friend.
Where: 640 Rue De Courcelle // St-Henri
Why you should go: This dessert spot is famous with the St-Henri locals for making and serving the most scrumptious home-made "donuts" and other sweet sweet pastries. So - next time your sweet tooth hits hard, pay a visit to Léché Desserts in the heart of St. Henri.