A Caffeinated Cafe Crawl

Graphic by Erin Sass

Temperate temperatures are back! This means it’s finally time to crawl out of our winter caves and check out Montreal’s vibrant cafe scene. I pride myself on being a coffee connoisseur, so you can trust that all of these local coffee shops provide a perfect allonge. That being said, stepping outside your coffee comfort zone is highly encouraged as you stroll along. 

Before we get started, I am well aware that many of us crave a good caffeine kick while we’re cranking out our finals. However, if you’re trying to complete this cafe crawl in one go —  all I will say is caffeinate at your own risk. 

I’ll start the furthest away from campus and lead you back to your studies. 

Cafe Saint-Henri (Jean Talon)

Photo by @cafesthenri, courtesy of Instagram

260 Place Du Marché Du Nord (Jean-Talon Market) – Montreal

Monday – Sunday: 7:30 am – 6:00pm

This may be my favourite — although I might say that about all of them. Saint-Henri has multiple locations around the city, but this one is elite because it vibrates the bright energy of Jean-Talon Market. This is one of Montreal’s many newer micro and nano coffee roasters, and their attention to detail comes across in the creaminess of the espresso. Like I already said, Saint-Henri offers a fantastic black espresso, but my go-to order here is a cappuccino with macadamia milk. This rich beverage is truly a treat. If you don’t love coffee but are on the crawl, I’ve also tried, tested, and adored their matcha latte.

San Gennaro  

Photo by @sangenarromtl, courtesy of Instagram

69 Rue Saint-Zotique Est 

Mon : Closed // Tue–Sun : 8:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M.

This family-owned pizzeria is known for their cappuccino dunk. Their rich and complex coffee is the perfect accompaniment to your dolci of choice. I would fully go for it and get the cappuccino with a bombolone to soak up all that milky goodness. The doughnuts do sell out sometimes by mid-day, so you know they are super fresh—the perfect light but oily and delicious accompaniment to your cup of joe. The pizza is also incredible, making this an ideal spot for not only caffeine but also for some much needed sustenance. 

Cafe Olympico (Mile End) 

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

124 St. Viateur Ouest 

Monday – Sunday, 7AM – 9PM

Could I call this a Montreal cafe crawl without mentioning this famous institution? You’ll find customers lined up down the block on a sunny day. Olimpico is filled with warm-hearted Italians every morning at the crack of dawn until the dark hours of the night. The espresso here is fantastic and tastes the same every time. It’s standard. It’s great. Just don’t ask for decaf… No, seriously, they charge an extra 50 cents just to mock you. If you want a bite I’d go for the cannoli or a biscotti — again, dipping is key. 

Cafe le Loup Bleu 

Photo by @cafeleloupbleu, courtesy of Instagram

1279 Marie-Anne Est, Montréal 

Monday – Friday 8am-5pm // Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm 

I had to throw this spot in because of its proximity to Parc La Fontaine. Their standard filter coffee really hits the spot and gives you a good amount to sip on as you stroll through the park. They also have sandwiches, pastries, and ice cream worth exploring if you want to have a little picnic in the park.

Cafe Replika

Photo by @cafereplika, courtesy of Instagram

252 Rue Rachel Est

Monday – Friday 8am-4pm // Saturday – Sunday 9am-5pm

Replika will always hold a special place in my heart because they serve De Mello Palheta Coffee, which first opened at the end of my street in Toronto. I developed my taste for coffee on this stuff, and I have to say their Replika roast is actually my favourite. The graffiti wall outside of this coffee shop makes it a quintessential Montreal spot. I always go for an Americano along with their homemade vegan and gluten free dark chocolate halva. 

Cafe Chez Téta

Photo by @cafecheztata, courtesy of Instagram

227 Rue Rachel Est 

Monday – Friday 9am-6pm // Saturday –  Sunday 9am – 5pm 

At the same intersection as Replika you’ll find this newer spot. The Lebanese cafe opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the hopes of evolving into a dine-in restaurant. They made the list because of their Turkish coffee with cardamom and their amazing eats. Sit back and relax as they make your tiny brew in the sand and cook your manouché (flatbread) fresh to order. I love to enjoy my za’taar covered flatbread before indulging in my cardamom coffee and a piece of carob cake. 

Noren 

Photo by @restaurantnoren, courtesy of Instagram

77 Rue Rachel Ouest

Wednesday – Saturday 11:30–15:00 // Friday – Saturday 17:00–19:00

Another spot on Rue Rachel! This one is actually a Japanese restaurant that offers a new menu every week. While their hours are far and few between, they not only have awesome and unique eats, but they also serve some delightful drinks. I thought it may be best to break from the caffeine, so I would take the opportunity to suggest their Yuzu Cha, which is a hot yuzu and lemony drink.  Likewise, if you still need that caffeine boost, I suggest their Oat Milk Matcha. I must say though, you are missing out if you don’t also grab a bite at this joint. 

Pikolo Espresso Bar 

Photo by @pikoloespressobar, courtesy of Instagram

3418 B, Avenue du Parc

Monday – Friday 8am-4pm // Saturday – Sunday 9am-4pm

This is my original Montreal spot. I came here when I toured McGill and still absolutely love it here! I had to include it on the list, not only for their great drip and Americano but because of their mocha. They use drinking chocolate, rather than powder, making it a rich and decadent delight. I go here time and time again when I need to cheer myself up. Pikolo Espresso Bar is located on the border of Milton Parc and Lower Plateau, making it a perfect spot for when you are heading into campus or for when you need a little study break. 

Leaves House Cafe 

Photo by @leaveshousecafe, courtesy of Instagram

1800 Av. McGill College

Monday – Friday 10am  – 3:30PM // Saturday – Sunday : 10:30am – 4:30PM

I had to shout out this cafe for all my plant-based friends. This incredible coffee house has so many unique lattes, ranging from your standard coffee to turmeric, beet, and matcha alike. My favourite is a coconut chai latte, which I order extra hot with a side of their carrot cake. Leaves is known for their variety of plant-based milks: coconut, oat, rice, hemp, and more. I can’t forget to add that before COVID-19 lockdowns, they offered study space with big communal tables, making this a great study spot for in between classes, or if you’re looking to adopt a plant. 

Humble Lion 

Photo by @cafehumblelion, courtesy of Instagram

904 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest 

Monday-Friday: 8am-3pm// Saturday-Sunday 10am – 3pm

Finally I bring you back to the spot that parallels Roddick Gates. This trusty institution is there for all my coffee snobs, who simply refuse to subject themselves to the bitterness of Dispatch Coffee. If you’re all coffee’d out at this point, they have a comprehensive tea menu and croissants that simply melt in your mouth. This was my go-to spot back when I was rushing for a seat at McLennan but still needed my coffee fix.

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Again, I do not recommend trying all these spots at once, but a few at a time (like all the rich tastes found on Rue Rachel) make for a fun sampling. So, get out and enjoy your sip under the spring sun. 

Oh, and if you’d like to plan a walking route for your cafe crawl, feel free to use this map.

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