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Add another one to the list. Montreal has long lured visitors with its superb galleries and museums, its mouth-watering restaurants and its lively arts scene. Now, however, there is another reason to visit this inviting city: its coffee. Café culture is booming in Montreal, thanks to a new generation of entrepreneurs providing next-level brews.
From atmospheric Old Montreal to the hipster-friendly Mile End neighbourhood, cutting-edge cafes have sprung up across town, so a tour of the city's best cuppas is also a great way to experience Montreal's most intriguing neighbourhoods. Don't forget to sample the local drop, une allongé, a longer shot of espresso that makes a great pick-me-up.
COFFEE AND COBBLESTONES
TOMMY CAFÉ + APERO, OLD MONTREAL
Old Montreal is the city's historic heart and the original Tommy Café & Apero – with a prime perch right by the mighty Notre Dame Cathedral – channels that heritage vibe with its soaring ceilings, huge arched windows and moulded features. Rows of hanging plants add to the charm. The second, larger branch on Rue St-Paul is more modern but still inviting and is the place to go for brunch.
CAFÉ NEVE, MILE-END
It's no surprise that Mile-End, Montreal's most hipster-heavy neighbourhood, has some serious contenders in the best-coffee stakes, but Névé sits firmly at the top of the heap. The café, co-founded by Aussie Luke Spicer, now has several outlets but the original spot, inside the Frank And Oak clothes shop, is still a favourite with locals. The matcha latte has a particularly loyal following.
TEA AND SYMPATHY
PIKOLO ESPRESSO BAR, THE PLATEAU
At Pikolo Espresso Bar, they don't discriminate. If you want a quality cup of coffee, they have you covered. But if your tastes lean more towards tea, there is also a sizeable selection to choose from. Owner Marie-Eve Laroche says she was inspired by Australia's café culture, and the atmosphere at this welcoming café feels a lot like home.
BANK ON IT
CREW COLLECTIVE & CAFÉ, OLD MONTREAL
This is not the place to grab a quick caffeine hit. Housed in a former Royal Bank of Canada building, Crew Collective & Café has one of Montreal's most stunning interiors, so you are going to want to take your time. Place your order at an old teller window, then choose a table where you can admire the marble floor, the painted plaster ceiling and all the ornate décoration in between.
LE DARLING, LE PLATEAU
Slide into a banquette, relax into a leather armchair, pull up a stool at the bar – at Bar Darling, you have plenty of choice. More is more in this artfully-cluttered café-bar, which draws inspiration from art deco and steampunk. Drop in for a coffee during the day and chances are, you'll be back at night for something a little stronger.
50 SHADES OF GREY
SSENSE MONTREAL, OLD MONTREAL
Dress to impress if you're planning to drop in for a cuppa at the seriously stylish Ssense Montreal. Located on the fifth floor of the Ssense boutique, this monochrome café has starkly beautiful raw cement walls and spare surfaces. The food is as memorable as the décor; try one of Montreal's famous bagels – even better than their New York cousins - perhaps topped with Arctic Char.
TO MARKET, TO MARKET
CAFÉ SAINT HENRI, LE PLATEAU
Montreal's fresh markets are a great place to go grazing, and near the lovely Atwater Market you will find Montreal's very own roastery, Café Saint-Henri. Owner Jean-Francois Leduc's insistence on sustainable, organic, single-origin coffee beans has won over Montrealers; there are now several outlets around town, including one at the city's other great market, Marché Jean-Talon.
PASTEL RITA, MILE-END
You wouldn't be surprised to find director Wes Anderson – the man behind The Grand Hotel Budapest and The Royal Tenenbaums - downing an espresso at Pastel Rita: the eye-catching interiors of this café could double as a backdrop for one of his films. Decked out in saturated shades of soft pink, dark green and old gold, striking stripes and plenty of curving forms, the décor will look fabulous on your Instagram feed.
DISPATCH COFFEE, LE PLATEAU
When Dispatch Coffee first launched as a food truck back in 2012, it didn't take long for word to get out that their cold brew was something special. Run by coffee connoisseurs with a commitment to sustainability, Dispatch is known for lightly roasting its beans, avoiding smokiness and allowing the natural sweetness shine through. The company now has a number of outlets; try the café on the corner of Saint Laurent Boulevard and Duluth.
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