23 March 2011

Third Wave Coffees in Montréal...and notable Cafés...

YES, I am a coffee snob. I have become a Third Wave Coffee aficionado. (Interested? Read more about the movement here.)  I am not going to lie, I caved into the Starbucks frenzy for years, mostly back when I had un trabajo fantastico (a great job).  But then, times changed.  When you go from a fantastic salary to minimum wage, well you begin to analyze your squandered habits.  One of the first things I cut from my spending routine was my daily dose of Grande cappuccinos.  The first time I rewarded my taste buds with a cappuccino from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, I wanted to scream,"Where have you been all of my life? and STARBUCKS, I want my money back." 

My short time in Portland, Oregon didn't only teach me "how to live on minimum wage" but it also enlightened my coffee palate. Moral of the story, when you have limited funds, you start thinking about quality and not banal quantity.

And so, when Mark and I relocated to Montréal, we were committed to finding a local spot that could stand up to the high-revered Stumptown Coffee Roasters.  It took us a while, but we eventually found worthy competitors. So here are my favorite finds, in no particular order. 
NOTE: I still miss Stumptown and those dedicated Portland baristas!

Picture credits: Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee + 49th Parallel + Intelligentsia + Saint Henri images: All borrowed from their official websites. Phil & Sebastian images borrowed from HERE.

. . . . . . .

1. Delicious almond croissants from olive + gourmando.   

2. olive + gourmando has become a huge Old Montréal tourist attraction. However, during the non-touristy months, O+G is strongly supported by local enthusiasts, such as myself.  The décor is inviting and toasty despite its crowded ambiance. It serves fabulous culinary delights, (a little expensive for my current budget) and their almond croissants are to sinfully good.  O+G brews coffee from the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company.

3. Café Rico is a cozy coffee stop and the service is always jovial.  They are located close to one of my favorite parks in Montréal, Parc La Fontaine on Rachel Street.  They roast their own 100% fair trade coffee.  FYI, it is a cash only establishment.

4. Café in Gamba is incredible.  It is located on Avenue du Parc, which is about a 40 minute Metro/Bus ride from where Mark and I live, but we always make the trip. The décor is a bit all-over-the-place yet cozy and their service + brewing is impeccable.  The foam on my cappuccino is always silky; I am often tempted to order a big bowl of just foam.  
The owner, JF Leduc, is a passionate coffee lover who is very committed to the Third Wave Coffee movement.  At Gamba, he serves the third wave brands, Intelligentsia from Chicago, 49th Parallel from Vancouver, BC,  Zoka from Seattle, WA, Novo from Denver, CO... among others.  I favor Intelligentsia, created by two San Francisco visionaries when they moved to Chicago in 1995. Today, Intelligentsia has two additional homes, L.A. and New York.

I love Cluny ArtBar.  It is part of the Darling Foundry located on the west end of Old Montréal.  I read somewhere that is it ran by the residency artists that house the Darling Foundry, but I have yet to confirm this fact.  It is a culinary attraction for many locals and the service is fantastic.  The design of this space is heavenly for my taste.  It is raw and the vintage-hand-crafted-furniture is inspiring.  FYI, it has funny hours depending on the season, so call first. By the way, you are served a perfect espresso (w/a shot of bubbly water) on a silver tray...and their desserts are mmm! (NOTE: Cluny serves Café Union's expresso elite.)

Saint Henri is a new coffee spot close to Atwater Market on Notre Dame street.  It is Café in Gamba's, JF Leduc's new baby.  He has chosen to allocate his Third Wave Coffee smarts towards roasting his own coffee brand. I have to admit, his coffee is not perfect YET, but I smell success here.  The décor of this spot houses innovative details, although there is something odd about the layout. I am not sure what to think of the church benches. + + 

1. Café Myriade is a tiny student hangout near Concordia University, but it is pretty phenomenal.  Informative review HERE.  (IMAGE: Mark's espresso in red cup: I believe that day they were brewing 49th Parallel's Epic expresso.) They also brew and sell, Phil & Sebastian from Calgary-AB, Canada.  

2. Café Myriade: I strongly recommend their sweet options.

3. La Montée de Lait - Café facade. Mark and I found this spot recently.  The owners run a pretty $$$$$ restaurant also called La Montée de Lait, not too far from the Café location along St. Laurent street.  I hear it is a worth every penny. 
The Café is a small locale, but what attracts Mark and me to this jewel is their barista Manuela and their fabulous coffee consultant, Chris. Manuela brews a peerless espresso thanks to Chris's expert-coaching.  They brew 49th Parallel coffee.  
NOTE: The Café also offers some of the culinary delights offered at the restaurant, including their divine wine list. 

4. La Montée de Lait-Café interior shot borrowed from HERE.

Other Cafés worth mentioning: Café Olimpico (Italian Style) + Caffè Art Java: It brews JJ Bean Coffee Roasters from Vancouver, BC.


QUICK UPDATE, October 2012:
* Cluny Bar is unfortunately no longer open, but I hear that the owners's first restaurant, Titanic is a must. I have yet to visit, I will find out what coffee if any is served here and report back.
**For the latest Montreal coffee news I strongly recommend you visit The Coffee Project, AdBeus.


Anonymous said...

You need to add Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar 1447 Rue Amherst to your list of third wave coffee shops in Montreal. Just opened and amazing coffee. Check it out! Twitter: @PQuoiPas

Vivi said...

Thank you, I will check it out!

adbeus montreal coffee said...

Hey very cool article. Would be interesting to read an updated version with the new spots (and closed). Cousteau, Plume, Pquoipas, Sardine and more!

Nice work on your blog.