Top Five Cafes in Montreal + Pics! (Pikolo, Humble Lion, Kitsune, Cafe Parvis, Cafe Aunja)

Now that summer is coming to an end, it is that time of year for students to head back to school. No more sleeping in until 2 pm, and watching top vine videos on youtube just for the sake of killing time. (Or am I the only one who does that?) Anyways, this will be my second year living as a student in Montreal and that can only mean one thing: #MTLCAFECRAWL is back.

Who knew Montreal has a rich coffee culture? I think it's a mixed result of the hipster movement slash the evolution of people's taste buds towards better stuff in general. Last year, I made it a point to try out as many coffee places as possible and become a self-proclaimed caffeine snob. Honestly, I don't really drink coffee to wake me up or give me energy, because only cortaditos do that for me, but I drink it for the rich taste and calming cafe atmosphere. The price is about the same, if not cheaper, than those mainstream-overly-expanded coffee chain brands, plus you support local businesses. AND the hipster baristas tend to be super friendly and talented at making aesthetically pleasing latte art. So it's a win-win.

Here are my five favorite coffee shops in Montreal in no particular order! It was a hard pick, so I will probably do a part 2 in the future.

"Starbucks is for basic bitches." - unknown

(the cafe names are linked to their FB pages for location)

1. Pikolo

pikolo best cafe montreal
pikolo best cafe montreal

pikolo best cafe montreal
pikolo best cafe montreal

Pikolo was the first cafe I ever went to after moving to Montreal, because it is literally two blocks away from our apartment. I love the high ceilings and wooden walls that give it a really homey feel. There is a cozy little nook on the second floor, but these seats are like front row seats at NYFW. You are d*mn lucky if you can get a seat there. Once you settle down in Pikolo's nook, you don't want to leave. It smells like third wave coffee and pecan pie, LITERALLY. Plus, you have a bird's eye view of people walking in. (c'mon don't act like you don't love people watching.)

I recommend: white chocolate mocha

2. Humble Lion

humble lion best cafe montreal
humble lion best cafe montreal

Located across the street from McGill, Humble Lion is a coffee-snob haven among all the chain coffee shops that saturate downtown Montreal. The window seat stools are always occupied with students on their mac books, looking busy doing something important. (But they are probably just on Facebook) I find the workers at this shop are really friendly, and they occasionally give me a large cup of joe for no extra charge, which is always a win. I think I have a pretty high caffeine tolerance, but Humble Lion’s espresso shot wakes me up right away. So if you are in need of something for an all-nighter or something to get you through the day, you can thank my later.

I recommend: lemon poppy seed scone or brownie. Hot chocolate in the winter. 

3. Kitsune

kitsune best coffee cafe montreal
Kitsune is just as cute as its Parisian name. The thing that stands out to me about this spot is that they only have one table. I’m being serious. It’s literally one ginormous wooden table that was probably chopped and imported from a huge oak tree somewhere in the forest. It’s cool because you feel like a part of a temporary family with the other coffee drinkers. (except no one really talks to each other, and their face is buried in their mac book) However, I would not go here for a marathon study session because the stools are not very comfortable, and you can’t really sprawl out your moleskine notebooks with complete freedom on the communal table. If you do, that would be very annoying, so don’t.

I recommend: Gibraltar with a mango ginger cookie (I think they only have this kind of certain days)

4. Cafe Parvis

parvis coffee best cafe montreal
parvis coffee best cafe montreal

parvis coffee best cafe montreal

Parvis is a new fave spot. The location is sort of hidden, on a quiet street in the middle of downtown that you would not expect to find such a café. Parvis is relatively new, but it’s already a popular place for students and hipsters alike. I seriously love this place because it is a pretty large space, with high ceilings and a whole side of the building is a window, which they open during the day, weather permitting. (meaning more than adequate natural light for instagram food pics and selfies.) Their green ivy wall is practically instagram famous. Besides being instagram friendly, they have very spacious tables that can be hogged with all your notes, laptops, phones, tablets, and whatever else makes you happy. The café changes into an awesome place for dinner too!

I recommend: their flatbread pizzas, which they sell at half price from 2 pm to 5 pm! AND the mushroom salad

5. Cafe Aunja

aunja tea best cafe montreal
aunja tea best cafe montreal
aunja tea best cafe montreal
I decided to add Café Aunja to this list for those non-coffee drinkers, or for when you are more in a tea-type of mood. It is located further down Sherbrooke, right near the art museum and Holt Renfrew. This place has the cutest homey deco with just the right Persian feel. (You’ll see what I mean by Persian feel if you ever go here.) The workers of this shop, which I’m pretty sure are the owners, are super friendly. (side story: I once left without paying, and called them to let them know I would come back the next day to pay. They were so chill about it.) It’s a really relaxing environment that is both great for catching up with friends, or studying. The only downside is that the teas are a little on the pricey side. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to give yourself a little treat.

I recommend: Persian flower tea (I would go here FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE of taking a gram picture… and idk if you are supposed to or not, but I eat the flowers.)

Hope this post was helpful in your quest for the perfect spot to quench your caffeine needs. You will probably run into me at one of these places if you go enough... 

A huge thank you to Ali (instagram @INAYALI) for letting me use his pictures! He started #MTLCAFECRAWL, and his feed is literally perfect. 

xo, Dahye

p.s. Follow me on instagram @heydahye if you are down for more cafe pics.