Coffee Shops of the World: Montreal in Coffee Cups
The love between a member of The Attic and our caffeine is perhaps unparalleled. It comforts us and sustains us, and at home nothing gets us going faster in the mornings or brings more easy enjoyment with friends. Traveling, we seek it out religiously, to save us from jet lag and submerge us within the local energy, becoming a home away from home — a place where we gather with friends or fellow travelers and stop to recharge between sights. In this series, we are sharing our favorite independent coffee shops at home and around the world.
Last month, my roommate and I were searching for a spring break destination fit for two busy grad students. We wanted a city that wouldn’t take long to get to (basically somewhere in North America), but still made us feel like we were somewhere sophisticated and European. In addition, one of our caveats was that it must have a plethora of unique coffee shops where we could do our copious amount of grad school homework and grading. Obviously, Montreal was the only option.
Located in Quebec, Canada, this city is welcoming (and I mean, like, SO WELCOMING) to both French and English speakers. Everyone I met during my stay was so kind and friendly, plus the city is full of beautiful architecture and culture. The coffee scene in Montreal was incredible. There were several cafes that made me wish I could be a grad student in Montreal so that I could study there all the time. Throughout the week, I visited 11 different coffee shops, but here is a list of my favorite ones.
200 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC H2Y 1T3, Canada
This is the coffee-loft of your sweetest aesthetic dreams. The space is full of delicate and beautiful details: elegant windows, hanging plants, bright lighting, mirrored walls, and hardwood floors. Their coffee is scrumptious and they offer a wonderful selection of brunch dishes. The vibes are chill enough to study for a few hours or just to grab some avo-toast before a busy day of sightseeing.
51 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H2X 1X2, Canada
This subterranean coffee shop has a futuristic feel. Despite being underground, it is a surprisingly sunny space and seems distinctly student-focused. A progressive place, they offer gender-neutral restrooms and “non-binary croques.” I had a delicious bagel and cappuccino which was a perfect breakfast while I worked on a paper.
1448 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H3G 1K4, Canada
Just around the corner from the Musée des Beaux Arts, this is a perfect place for some tea and cake after an afternoon at the museum. This Persian cafe has a lot of really unique flavors, including a delicious saffron and rose cake. The space is impossibly cozy, which goes perfectly with the tea they serve in adorable floral pots. I felt so at home here that I truly could have spent hours here.
360 St Jacques St, Montreal, QC H2Y 2N1, Canada
This space can only be described as a glorious Art Deco oasis. The highlight of this cafe is the stunning architecture of this former bank. The coffee shop has a very serious feel: a cross between a study space and co-working space. It’s definitely a place where you can buckle down and get work done. There is a pretty extensive menu of healthy food and you can order it right to your table through their website.
La Graine Brûlée
921 St Catherine St E, Montreal, QC H2L 4Y5, Canada
This is such a whimsical and happy place to study! This coffee shop is like a children’s play area, but for adults to study and collaborate in. It has different nooks and lofts to work in, along with larger tables for groups. This coffee shop felt so light and happy that I ended up visiting it twice during my trip. The coffee is great and they have lots of snacks. I still think about how delicious their vegan sandwich was.
5761 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC H2T 1S9, Canada
Nicknamed “The Instagram Playground” by roommate, this is a very adorable space. Think of the aesthetics of sketch in London but much more casual and inexpensive! It has lots of beautiful soft pink details and a nice brunch-y menu. In the evening, it turns into a wine bar, which is a perfect place for a drink before heading out to explore Mile End. The staff were so kind and friendly, letting us sample wines and helping us with dinner suggestions.
B O N U S
Montreal is a lovely city, but very cold (even in early Spring). Coffee is essential to stay warm, so it’s wonderful that Montreal offers so many unique places to stop in for a warm beverage. If are looking for a few fun cultural things to add on to your coffee tour, here a just a few places to visit:
Musée des Beaux Arts
1380 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H3G 1J5, Canada
Art museums are always one of my favorite things to visit in new cities. This museum did not disappoint with a substantial collection and many floors of paintings, sculptures, and decorative pieces. One of the best parts are the glass windows in the stairways that offer sweeping views of the city.
535 Avenue Viger E, Montréal, QC H2L 2P3, Canada
Located in Old Montreal, this library is a simply gorgeous and peaceful place. Visiting it is a bit extensive: it involves putting your stuff in a locker and signing in with an ID, but it is worthwhile as the library is wonderful. There is free WiFi, so you can stay and study for a while, or you can simply sneak in for a photo. They have a few cool exhibitions on Montreal history and lots of books of family ancestry to explore.
Jardin Botanique de Montréal
4101 Sherbrooke St E, Montreal, QC H1X 2B2, Canada
The warm greenhouses are a perfect escape from the cold Montreal air. They have several conservatories full of a beautiful array of plants from around the world with lush settings and sceneries to really help you feel as if you are escaping. Between late February and late April, they have an exhibition on butterflies which is very magical (though a bit overwhelming).
For anyone in North America, Montreal makes an ideal city break: lots of culture and coffee with enough beautiful architecture and French language to make you feel like you’ve traveled much farther!
M. A. McCuen is a secondary English literature teacher and grad student in Omaha, Nebraska. Originally from Michigan, she graduated with a BA in English and French from University of Notre Dame in 2016 where she spent a semester studying at the University of Paris Diderot and interning in Ireland. After graduation, she spent a year teaching abroad on Wexford, Ireland, before beginning her M.Ed at Creighton University.