Prince Edward Island is famed for its wealth of unspoiled beaches, vibrant music scene, and historic streetscapes, not to mention succulent seafood, which contributes to the province’s rep as Canada's Food Island. One of the best ways to discover the lifeblood of PEI’s communities is to spend some quality time at a cozy cafe like locals do, and settle in for a cup of coffee and conversation.
Visit a coffee roastery for a beans-to-brew experience
Kickstart your morning with a steaming cup of the flagship “Operator Blend” java at Receiver Coffee Company. The company is committed to serving ethically sourced (and freshly roasted) coffee at its two Charlottetown stores. Coffee aficionados will want to head to the Brass Shop, Receiver’s coffee roastery and artisanal bakery, for a full-on sensory experience (think aromatic coffee brewing and bread baking) while tucking into a nourishing breakfast. Go light with the housemate granola or dive into a plate of French toast that comes with bananas and berries, chia seed, and decadent chocolate-coconut cream.
If you’ve spent the morning exploring, drop by Receiver’s downtown cafe, Victoria Row. This community gathering place is primely positioned on the Victoria Row pedestrian stroll, where you can sit in the atmospheric brick-walled space and enjoy a pick-me-up. Choose from items like the daily grilled-cheese sandwich or vegan-friendly soup of the day. Bring home a bag of beans to remember your experience, like the chocolatey Kuta peaberry, sourced by farmers in Papua New Guinea’s Waghi Valley and roasted right there in PEI.
Get an up-close taste of Island heritage
Samuel’s Coffee House is a Prince Edward Island mainstay that’s steeped in history thanks to its namesake, Samuel Holland. Back in the day, the British Royal Engineer and surveyor literally mapped the Island. Six generations later, a relative of Holland’s, Moyna Matheson, owns and operates the two locations (Summerside is open year-round, while the Cavendish locale in Avonlea Village welcomes guests during the summer) that marry Samuel’s deep roots with modern flair. Linger over a decadent caramel macchiato artfully decked with foam while reading the local paper over lunch. Menu items are a nod to Matheson’s Irish heritage and showcase natural Island ingredients. Try the Mapmaker sandwich, made with PEI Black Forest ham, Glasgow Glen smoked gouda, lettuce, and spicy Dijon mustard.
Savor a socially responsible cup of coffee
Global meets local at Timothy's World Coffee, a PEI institution that opened in 1975. Unfussy neighborhood cafes with homespun charm like Timothy’s are rarities nowadays. It’s a place where you can still find classic comfort fare, whether a sandwich stuffed with egg-salad or roast beef, alongside a piping hot cup of coffee A globe-trotting range of Fair Trade and organic coffees from mild to dark are on offer, and there’s a dose of goodness in every cup. That’s because of Timothy’s longstanding commitment to social and environmental responsibility. For instance, since 2000, it has been working in partnerships with the Embera-Chami native people in Columbia who produce La Vereda single-origin coffee. These programs not only help coffee farmers and their families but also promote sustainable coffee growing practices and protect the land. So drink up!
Drink a bespoke brew with all-day breakfast
You might say there’s a singularity to Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant in Charlottetown. Here, each beverage is made individually, whether you want your chai latte hot or iced, or an extra shot of espresso in your Americano. Pastries, sandwiches, and salads are made-to-order from scratch, with natural and organic ingredients often sourced from the local farmers markets. Who doesn’t want a little cappuccino and cake during an afternoon respite in a sprawling sunlit space that feels like an elegant living room? And if it’s breakfast you’re yearning for, at 9 a.m. or noon, Leonhard’s has got you covered. Go for the classic eggs Benny with homemade lemony Hollandaise sauce, or change things up with the gluten-free Bavarian breakfast accompanied with a side of sausages or beans.
Sample locally roasted coffee
Organic coffee roasted in-house and ground fresh, no less, are traits that lure loyal followers to The Kettle Black, which holds court in its new digs on Queen Street in downtown Charlottetown. Wander into the heritage building that houses this locally owned cafe and roastery and you’ll find a sublime selection of piping hot coffees (try the Flat White, a double-shot espresso crowned with velvety foam), along with comforting beverages like the Charlottetown Fog, a local twist on the traditional London Fog made with Earl Grey tea. At lunchtime, chow down on a vegan falafel or a healthy Buddha bowl of roasted beets, hummus and good-for-you greens, including crispy Brussels sprouts, all tossed with zesty lemon-tahini dressing.