I should probably re-name this post ‘A not-at-all comprehensive guide to coffee in Ottawa’. The truth is, there are a lot of great independent coffee shops in Ottawa. But if, like me, you have 1.5 days in town and need something within reasonable walking distance of the Parliament buildings, Byward Market, or Centretown, these are all worth your attention.
This one came as a surprise to me. Bridgehead is local chain of shops and a roastery, and for me, generally I view chains with very low expectations. Bridgehead comes by its popularity very honestly though; it was the first coffee shop in Canada to offer fair trade coffee, started roasting in house in 2012, and offer a subscription service where they drop off freshly roasted beans at your house once a month (seriously, genius). Plus, they make a damn good flat white.
I’ll be honest, I more like the idea of this place than the execution. I like that it’s a micro-roastery, with all their beans roasted on site. Two, of all the shops in this guide, this place is probably the best if you want to stay and work since it has by far the most seating and good wi-fi. Three, while you can get a large cappuccino (which I believe is a contradiction in terms), you can also specify that you would like a traditional cappuccino instead. Solid coffee, but not my favourite.
Moulin de Provence
Ok, so this one *may* be a bit of a guilty pleasure. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, they’re still trying to ride the wave from Obama’s visit back in 2009. Yes, this is more a patisserie than a coffee shop. But guys, if you don’t enjoy an almond croissant and a café au lait the size of your head, than I don’t know what to do with you.
If this guide were purely about ambiance, Arlington Five would be top of the pack. It’s adorable and demands to be Instagrammed, from the succulents in the window, to the art on the walls, to the giant COFFEE written on the front of the building. Arlington Five is affiliated with the nearby (and very popular) Wilf & Ada’s diner, and is a great place to grab a coffee while you wait for a table for brunch.
This place has it all. Great location, great vibe, great coffee. You can find this place in the heart of Byward Market, yet it feels tucked away. They have an industrial, steam-punky ambiance, right down to their gorgeous Mirage espresso machine, yet it feels cozy and welcoming. And bonus, they are also a lounge, so once you’re done with coffee for the day, you can enjoy craft beer and wine.
There were so many more shops I wanted to try, but I learned very quickly that, coffee lover though I am, there is only so much you can drink in a 24 hour period. Were there any shops in particular that I should add to my list for next time?