The best third wave cafes in Montreal: Our suggested addresses
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 cafes in Montreal, so here is a list of places to visit if you want to live the experience!
*The information for this article was partially collected from the website of La machine à café
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 six Saint-Henri cafes between Montreal and Quebec City, with Café Saint-Henri Mile-Ex being the most recent addition. Not far from the Mile-Ex is the Café Saint-Henri at the Jean-Talon Market, with one of the most beautiful cafe terraces in Montreal. The Mile-Ex location is where all the coffees produced by Saint-Henri are roasted. The company meticulously selects its beans and produces its own quality coffees.
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.
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 cafe was the first on the island of Montreal to offer Nitro Cold Brew! In its second year of existence, Paquebot won the cafe 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 cafes 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