Dear readers, before you start yelling that we missed some wonderful independent Montreal coffee shops, we know! We started out by writing about our favourite spots, and we’re sure that there will be amendments to this list as we continue to caffeinate ourselves.
Coffee to the Divas is very important. It cures many a hangover and helps enhance those few hours of sleep that we manage to snatch between our late night activities and that place we chill at during the week – work. We love good coffee, but pair it with a nice panini or a local bakery product and all of a sudden we catch ourselves stopping by for a snack and not just to fuel our caffeine addiction.
Café Myriade Dominion Square
Café Myriade has been popular amongst downtown Montreal students for quite some time. But they only got the recognition that they deserve when their newest location in Club Monaco on St-Catherine opened just last month. Trendy and stylish, you can shop at Club Monaco and grab a coffee in the basement coffee shop below.
The place is gorgeous; with books and treats for sale along the walls, it is a lavish little spot to grab a coffee. We tried their latté and cappuccino, their espresso has what we believe is chicory giving it a very distinct taste from other espressos. We had the strawberry doughnut which was bursting with fresh strawberry jam and flavour, and a large chocolate chip cookie. Delish!
Café Myriade has a few seats but it truly is just a coffee shop with no sandwiches or other more savoury treats. You can tell by their espresso machine that they are really all about that cup of Joe. So when you check out Club Monaco, probably shopping around for their soft cashmere, grab a coffee downstairs at Café Myriade.
Café Olimpico opened in 1970 in the Mile End by the Furfaro family and they are still running it today. Their house blend coffee remains a family secret and this unassuming coffee shop is perfect if you want to sit down and enjoy some java, drink it fast at their coffee bar or even on their wonderful terrace in the summer. They are open until midnight every night because Montrealers don’t just grab a coffee in the morning, or to stay awake in the afternoon, drinking coffee is an all-day treat in Montreal.
Their prices remain low, and tax is already included. We adore their cappuccinos, so much so that Diva #1 and Peaches once raced to Café Olimpico during their lunch break because we simply needed their coffee. And we work nowhere near this wonderful café, but the Divas are all about satisfying their cravings.
Café Olimpico has plenty of Italian treats like biscotti, the perfect accompaniment to Italian coffee, but our personal favourite is the maple bacon doughnut. Usually sold out, this treat is divine! Trou de Beigne supplies these doughnuts, god bless Café Olimpico for telling us the name of their supplier!
In the summer you have to try their caffé latte freddo, an amazing Italian cold coffee that should be sipped leisurely while roaming the Mile End, which Diva #2 did on many of her lunch breaks when she worked nearby. You can also buy their coffee beans whole or have them grind the beans for you. The only reason that we avoid doing this is because you won’t be able to drink any other coffee!
It comes as no surprise that the Plateau, Mile End, Little Italy and general downtown core of Montreal is filled with independent coffee shops. Let’s face it, the new Montreal hipster culture is a breeding ground for organic restaurants and independent coffee shops. But Italians were perfecting coffee long before hipsters made it cool. Opened in 1971, Café Milano has been serving St-Leonard coffee aficionados for years. What’s fun about this little coffee shop is that they have expanded to include traditional Italian panini, salad and desserts.
Their cannolis are to die for, but it’s their sandwiches that have the Divas driving to the East End when they are feeling peckish. Their sausage sandwich used to be our favourite until we tried the veal cutlet. Breaded veal is grilled and placed in a sub with marinated Italian eggplants, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions and marinated spicy peppers. We always opt to remove the lettuce and tomato to truly enjoy this Italian panini with minimal interference. You can order a half sandwich or a full portion but we always opt for the full sandwich.
Made with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives, plenty of bocconcini and seasoned generously, the bocconcini salad is the perfect side salad for your sandwich. Our picture shows the small salad, so just imagine the size of the large! Wash it all down with some nice Italian Brio or a San Pellegrino in any flavour you desire and you have yourself a serious lunch.
But let’s talk about the coffee. We always opt for their latté which arrives in a glass, not a porcelain cup, as you often see in Italy. The lobster tail is the perfect bite size dessert to accompany your coffee. Italian pastry cream is stuffed in this pastry and Nutella is drizzled on top. The coffee is perfect and whether it is for lunch or to grab a coffee to go, we always leave Café Milano satisfied. The café has expanded over the years but yet on weekends it’s always packed. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s popular with the late night crowd and early morning risers.
Pikolo Espresso Bar
Pikolo Espresso Bar has been getting a lot of love lately from Montreal. This little spot is located near the McGill ghetto and is usually crammed with students enjoying a brew or even studying in the back. It has that Montreal hipster look but the love that it gets is for one simple reason: they have really good coffee!
Diva #1 and Sweet Pea walked into this unassuming spot to work on our blogs and enjoy some coffee. Diva #1 had her cappuccino and ordered a slice of their moist almond raspberry bread. Their baked goods are delicious, fresh tasting and original. This isn’t the place to find typical or boring flavours, instead try something new.
But let’s talk about the coffee. Known for their coffee art, Pikolo Espresso Bar added a heart to the cappuccino and the latté came in a glass with a leaf design. The coffee is delicious and we also tried their sun dried tomato and feta muffin with spinach and olives, which was divine. It was nice to have the option of a savoury treat instead of the usual dessert-like treats that go with coffee. Open until 7 pm, seven days a week, Pikolo Espresso Bar is the perfect downtown coffee shop.
The coffee shop trend of the 90s is dead. The new revolutionized idea is to have espresso bars with an emphasis on where the beans come from, in house blends and local products. The barista is like the sommelier, a coffee expert that ensures that your coffee is at the right temperature and that each cup of Joe is brewed to perfection.
Call us snobs but we love our coffee done right. And it’s funny that the chains like Starbucks and Second Cup actually charge more for their coffee than these independent shops that are fuel your caffeine addiction at a whole other level.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
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