From artisanal espressos to bustling patios, these coffee houses capture city vibes in a cup
Liquid love on the terrace: Montréal
Montréal’s coffee culture begins on a lively terrace, like the patio at Brûlerie St-Denis, and often ends by twinkling starlight. Café Olympico (nicknamed “open da night” by locals) offers full-bodied espresso and fabulous people watching. Nearby, Caffè in Gamba sets you up with elite espresso on a cozy couch by the fireplace. Caffè Art Java serves up the Picasso of foam-rich lattés. Visit landmark Caffé Italia to experience the beating heart of the city’s Italian roots and their you-only-live-once espresso.
Indie brews and tight tunes: Toronto
Rooster Coffee House’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlook Riverdale Park, attracting fans like musician Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, who likes to start his day here with a quad decaf macchiato. Crema Coffee is home to an epic espresso with mounds of bubbly crema on top. Also try the red velvet cupcakes. Pilot Coffee Roasters (formerly Te Aro) draw swooning regulars who linger over their well-pulled espressos on the sunny patio at their Ossington location. Award-winning barista Stuart Ross, owner of Bulldog Coffee, offers a wicked seven-bean blend that tastes like an illicit affair.
Fair trade and funky: Ottawa
Bridgehead fairly traded coffee was once sold by volunteers in Toronto church basements. Whip ahead many years and Bridgehead’s 15 coffeehouses anchor their hip neighbourhoods in Canada’s capital. Some locations feature Clover-brewed coffee that aficionados liken to vintage wine. Sip away on a quaint sidewalk patio but save room for the sandwiches, all lovingly made from scratch in their kitchen.
Latte foam art and local haunts: Calgary
If you have a yearning for a wicked Black Cat Espresso, award-winning deVille Luxury Coffee & Pastriesin the Fashion Central building has gorgeous views of the Calgary Tower. Walk in for a latté; walk out with a designer bag. Sweet foam art is half the fun at funky Caffè Beano where you can try an espresso chocolate milkshake and watch the hipsters stroll by. Liquid sunshine embodies the scene at Caffe Crema where they feature live music some Friday nights.Both the first and second place winners of the 2012 Canadian Barista Championships hail from coffee fanatics Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters.
Brew with a view: Vancouver
Unofficial home of the seaside stroll with take-out coffee in hand, Vancouver loves its brew. Caffé Artigiano locations serve up artisanal cappuccinos, alongside million-dollar views. Famous coffee roasters, 49th Parallel, draw caffeine-craving fans to its lively Main Street patio where you can sweeten your cappuccino with a pistachio orange honey doughnut. Beloved local chain JJBean (also on Granville Island) and newbie Kafkas (no relation to Franz) are awash in aromatic espresso, velvety cappuccinos and seasoned baristas.