Start the day right, or recharge in the afternoon, at Ottawa’s favorite independent coffee shops where java and ambiance are co-stars of the show.
Ministry of Coffee: Top-tier beans from premium roasters
Trendy Ministry of Coffee knows its business. There are multiple locations, but all are focused on the highest quality coffees from North America’s most talented roasters using the de rigeur cold-brew technique. Try the featured roaster of the week with a made-daily sandwich and take home a bag of beans as a souvenir.
Happy Goat Coffee Company: Niche artistan roaster
In a warehouse on a sleepy street in Little Italy, Happy Goat Coffee Company produces 20 fair trade coffees and blends for Ottawa’s top eateries, working with partner-farmers in countries like Ethiopia. There’s a quirky and comfy café up front with the occasional open mic night, and the roasting goes on in back. Buy baked goods, java by the pound, and an expert espresso to enjoy.
Blumenstudio: Flower shop-coffee shop
At Hintonburg’s serene, artsy blumenstudio café + floral, owner Kat Kosk creates refined bouquets and arrangements with architectural flair while serving top-notch Rufino blend joe. Order the Caffe Crema with a pastry and take five or even an arrangement-making workshop. Being surrounded by gorgeous, fragrant flowers and lush greenery is as lovely as the carefully curated lifestyle objects also on offer. There’s also a second location is in Stittsville.
Equator Coffee Roaster: Responsible roaster
Social and enviro-responsibility is Equator Coffee Roaster’s shtick. With roasting operations at its Almonte location, Equator nurtures direct relationships with small-scale farming communities. The living room-comfy Westboro coffee bar has great baristas who know their stuff. Order a small flat white, 100% organic co-op, powered by the Italian La Marzocco machine.
Art-Is-In: Gastro bakery with Parisian flair
Food as pure pleasure is the mantra at industrial-vibe Art-Is-In Bakery in the old city center, the place you want to go for a breakfast or lunch date. Run by a Paris/NYC-trained baker husband and wife team, this edgy it spot bills itself as Parisian boulangerie meets funky Brooklyn café. Everyone will find something to like on the original menu. Try a smooth, Euro-style cappuccino with a brioche-bun Brunch Burger and macaron.
The Morning Owl: Sip ‘n learn from aficionados
Little Italy’s cool and modern The Morning Owl Coffeehouse (there are multiple cafés) is set in a small converted home operated by passionate barista owners with a penchant for quality. Attend a coffee tasting if you can and try the organic, local-roast Australian Long Flat White with from-scratch baked goodies and yummy pressed sandwiches. All lattes arrive with foam-painted animals on top.
Cyclelogik: Caffeinate with the cyclists
“Powered by caffeine” is the motto at easygoing Cyclelogik, a Euro-style coffee bar in a biking and multi-sport boutique in Hintonburg. Enjoy a fair-trade, fresh-made espresso or cappuccino at the red counter, watch passersby from the window, peruse the hanging artwork, or browse pro brands along the lines of Cervelo and Guerciotti. Meet a triathlete or cyclist, or rent a bike and go for a spin.
Red Door Provisions: Locavore love-in
Homemade Pop Tart with that gluten-free Fig Newton? Oh, yeah. This quaint East End café is the stuff of foodie fantasy. Red Door Provisions says it started in a Quebec farm field. Expect high-quality, seasonal produce and homemade, micro-batch preserves and pickles on the evolving contemporary breakfast, lunch, and takeout menu. That philosophy extends to beverages: house sodas, boutique Canadian wine and beer, and direct-trade joe from Toronto’s craft Pilot Coffee Roasters. Make sure you try their delicious Flat White.
Café Morala: Join la familia
Meet the neighbors at cheery Café Morala, the oldest coffee shop in The Glebe (LINK TO POST ON OTTAWA RELAXING VACATION) and a hub where friends meet and sip locally roasted Café Maya over wholesome soup, authentic empanadas, and conversation. Try the popular Baires: espresso, steamed milk, Dulce de Leche, and coconut. The delightful owner Miriam greets patrons by name, and you’re next!
Joe The Dog Coffee: Canines with coffee
Joe The Dog Coffee in Old Ottawa South is about sipping your steaming mug while you pet a pooch, and all proceeds benefit Ottawa dog rescue efforts. Artisan, organic, Ottawa-roasted cuppas come with names like Best in Show and Diggin’ It. You can find Joe’s roasted whole beans at markets around town, too.
Quitters: Unpretentious and local
Singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards started Quitters when she — you guessed it — quit the music biz. Her Stittsville community gathering spot, minimalist with tasteful splashes of color, serves scrumptious sandwiches and Pilot Coffee to regulars. Try homegrown brands here, such as Big Rig Brewery beer. There’s no website or phone, and that’s how Ms. Edwards likes it.
I Deal Coffee: College hipster
Barebones in an minimalist Scandanavian way, the ByWard Market’s I Deal Coffee is a university student haunt. It’s also independent, roasting twice a week with the sacks of fair trade Royal Coffee beans stacked in the corner to prove it. Try one of eight blends and the iced latte with coffee ice cubes for the purists among us.
Speaking of the historic ByWard, while you’re in town, make sure to sit down for a leisurely coffee somewhere in this charming district, a magnet for all things trendy and tasty, near Parliament Hill.
Find more things to eat, drink, see, and do at the Ottawa Tourism website.