The Best Third Wave Cafés in Montreal
We often hear about third wave cafes, but do we really know what that means? Coffee is one of the most popular products around the world, and the development of this beloved product has come in “waves.” This is the nomenclature used in the industry, but the waves of coffee and their meaning remain unclear to many coffee lovers. Right now, the third wave is being surfed, but what about the first two?
The first wave refers to the global industrial expansion of coffee that took place in the last century. Before the advent of this wave, coffee was a niche product. It was not yet part of the daily life of people of all classes as it is today. So the first wave saw the market for coffee explode and the product become more democratic. But quantity does not necessarily mean quality, and the coffee we bought was not always the result of a meticulous production process.
The second wave, which began towards the end of the 20th century, saw the habits of producers and consumers move towards more sought-after and better processed products. More experiments were done in relation to the roasting process. Large companies such as Starbucks also popularized “derivative” coffee products, such as flavoured coffees and sweet coffees. In general, the second wave saw a serious improvement in the quality of coffee compared to the first wave.
The third wave, that we’re experiencing now, is pushing the complexity of the processes that coffee goes through even further in order to explore all its possibilities and flavours in all their subtleties. Third wave coffees embody this desire to discover coffee from every angle. Coffee becomes an experience in itself. Beyond the taste and the product, the physical location of the café takes on a new importance. Aesthetics are the order of the day, both in the establishment and in the cup.
There are several third wave cafés in Montreal, so here is a list of places to visit if you want to live the experience!
For more caffeinated suggestions, check out our other lists:
*The information for this article was partially collected from the website of La machine à café
Monopole is a friendly and relaxed place in a neighbourhood that was asking for it. On the border between Griffintown and Old Montreal, this café turns into a bar in the evening. You can also buy wine here. The food offer is honest and delicious, from the morning into the evening.
A superb café in Hochelaga that shares its space with the restaurant Hélicoptère. Both establishments are well worth a visit. The owners met at Bouillon Bilk, one of the best restaurants in town. The offer is a reflection of their experience and talent. We go back often to enjoy both sweet and savoury dishes.
This charming and summery 12-seat café in Pointe-Saint-Charles is a neighbourhood staple. They serve tasty ZAB coffee, treats, pastries and a few savoury items, like a delicious grilled cheese. They also specialize as much in artisanal ice cream as in coffee. They are freshly made on site, right behind the counter where you can watch the action unfold.
Café Pista comes from the world of cycling and piston machines. The concept also came from the desire to use human energy and the bicycle to roast coffee. After setting up the first specialty coffee bicycle service in North America, owner Maxime opened a location on Beaubien East. The first of three in Montreal, Café Pista opened its doors in 2016. It serves Kittel coffee, roasted in Rosemont Petite Patrie.
The Dispatch on Saint-Laurent Boulevard always has several kinds of coffee on rotation, as the coffee varies seasonally. “We’re glad to finally have a space to talk and explain how to make your coffee better.” Dispatch offers demonstrations (always free) on different ways to make coffee at home, and to talk about coffee.
At the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Rivard Street, the friendly baristas at Café Noble serve coffee in the morning on your way to work and in the evening on your way home. Montreal’s De Mello Palheta roasters reserve a blend especially for Café Noble. It’s accessible and light, and is available at the cafe all the time. In addition, the house also works with guest roasters. The Café Noble team uses beans from all over the world. The bean in the grinders change every other day.
There are several Saint-Henri cafés between Montreal and Quebec City, the Café Saint-Henri on Notre-Dame Street being the very first. Saint-Henri roasters supplies the coffee offer of the various branches. The bakery Le Pain dans les voiles takes care of the ready-to-eat food. It’s a winning combination.
Café Elsdale has all the charm of a neighbourhood establishment. You can savour delicious and simple products in a relaxed atmosphere that makes you feel at home. Its evolving concept makes it a great place to welcome customers morning and night. To drink, Café Elsdale serves excellent coffee from Kittel coffee roasters, as well as very good homemade pastries to accompany your drink. The place also offers several nice alcoholic options to quench your thirst.
Anthony, the founder of Café Myriade, is credited with ushering in the third wave of coffee in Montreal. Myriade was so successful that a second location was opened on St. Viateur Street.
Crew Collective & Café
Crew Collective & Café is a beautiful address, and one of the most beautiful cafes in Montreal! Located on St. Jacques Street in Old Montreal, the cafe has set up shop on the first floor of the former Royal Bank of Canada building and the result is stunning. For hot drinks, the house offers a very good coffee prepared by Jesse Lewin, the main barista. On the menu, there are also several infusions including Camelia chai, black tea (Assam Banaspaty), rooibos (Red Moon) and green tea with mint (Dune du Sahara).
Open since 2009 on the Plateau Mont-Royal, Café Névé has been serving excellent third-wave coffee in a simple and warm space for almost 10 years. Very popular with students and self-employed workers, the establishment serves a few sandwiches and salads, as well as their famous chocolate chip cookie. Café Névé now has several locations, including one on Saint-Viateur East and one on Mont-Royal East.
Located in a modern space at the junction of the SAT building and in front of the Place de la paix, the SAT Cafe is superb. Designed by Alexandre Auché with the help of designers Amélie Daudelin-Pilotte, Hakima Djermouli and Emily Robinson, the space is vast, uncluttered and inviting. Judiciously planned, the configuration of the space gives the place a magnificent luminosity during the day. The concept of Café SAT is to merge the culinary work of the Culinary Lab with a cafe format. On the beverage side, the cafe offers a monthly rotation of coffees, in order to constantly introduce new flavours to its clientele.
The café was the first on the island of Montreal to offer Nitro Cold Brew! In its second year of existence, Paquebot won the café of the year award at Th3rdwave 2017. What makes Paquebot coffees special is their original contribution to classic coffees. First with the Nitro Cold Brew. Then the team developed all sorts of caffeinated recipes that stand out from other cafés in town. Experimentation, taste experience and the incorporation of the cocktail side of coffee were all part of the concept of Le Paquebot. You can savour coffees roasted by their own roasting house, Zab Café, Nitro Cold Brew and homemade kombuchas on tap, golden lattes as well as a thirst-quenching treat for the summer season: the cold lemonade coffee (among the best iced coffees in Montreal)! Le Paquebot has a second location on Bélanger Street.
Café Lali is located in a beautiful building on Notre-Dame Street West. This friendly place serves good coffees, and is also an art gallery. The decor is very inviting. Photo Café Lali
Café des Habitudes
Café des Habitudes is an eco-responsible café at the intersection of Saint-Zotique and Christophe-Colomb. The luminous place is always filled with locals working or studying, people relaxing, playing with their kids or even taking a nap on their little mezzanine! They serve Pista coffee.