Tucked among a row of shops in Little Italy sits Candide Café. Candide Café was the realization of a long-time dream for owners Coralie and Mickael Rossi. The pair worked for five years in a Starbucks Café in France, with the plan to eventually open their own coffee shop. The shop attracts a mixed crowd of young, working professionals, families with kids, and, now, tourists from New York City. This new cutsomer-base was drawn to Candide after reading its favourable review in the New York Times’ article “Five Places to Go in Montreal.” The article, which features Candide Café, among other local hotspots, highlights its famous rose latte.
“As we came from Starbucks, we knew we had to add a specialty, so we wanted to create something original,” Mr. Rossi said. “The most ordered drink [in every country] is the latte, so we wanted to do a special latte. The rose latte was the flavour, which is just as floral and delicate as we needed [….] It’s a Mediterranean inspiration. It’s something fun that we never did before.”
The rose latte is unique and satisfying. Served in a simple white mug, the foam is topped with a sprinkling of dried rose petals, the fuchsia colours enlivening an otherwise simple-looking drink. The rose flavour is subtle and smooth, which complements the bitterness of a regular latte. The drink is a refreshing change from the syrup-pumped specialty lattes of chain coffee shops.
The rose latte is only one aspect of Candide’s popularity, however. While many other third-wave coffee shops in Montreal place high-quality artisanal coffee above all else, Candide’s friendly staff prioritize quality distant barista-customer relations.
“As we were from Europe, we used to communicate [and create a relationship] with every customer we had,” Mr. Rossi said. “[We] use that here and create, like, a community in the coffee shop. We know a lot of customers and their drinks. It’s like a community and something sort of strong.”
Candide’s vibe defines it as a local hangout spot. On any given day, the baristas chat with customers and children read books from its library. At the centre of its hominess are Coralie and Mickael, who have succeeded in creating a rare coffee shop environment that balances an urban ambience with charm and quality service.
However, the Candide story has taken an interesting turn. Rossi revealed alternate plans for their future as owners, as well as for the shop itself.
“Last summer, the bank came to us saying, if you want, we are going to follow you to open a second one and launching something bigger,” Mr. Rossi said. “We haven't [taken a holiday for eight years], so when the opportunity was here, we [had] two [options]. The one, we are launching a second Candide and we are working like crazy people for the next five years, or we can change our life, sell the coffee [shop], and [do] a world trip. So we choose the world trip.”
The shop has been up for sale since the beginning of January, with a lot of interest pouring in. It is hard to think of Candide in the hands of anyone other than the Rossis, who founded the shop and raised it like a child.
"We don't know who we are going to choose, but we want to give the [coffee shop] to someone who is going to take care of it,” Mr. Rossi said. “We put a lot of love and passion in it [….] It is a small Candide dream to think that we are going to [come] back in five years in Montreal and [have] a coffee in here."
For now, Candide stays put, while the Rossis hold meetings with new interested owners. Customers will continue to flock to this local coffee staple, but soon, without the familiar faces of the Rossis milling about. One can only hope that the future proprietors will nurture and love it with the same passion as the Rossis. Candide stands out among others of its kind for the warmth it spreads to its customers and its community.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Candide Cafe is located in Little Italy, and that Coralie and Mikael Rossi worked at Starbucks Cafe for a duration of 8 years prior to opening Candide Cafe. In fact, Candide Cafe is located in La Petite-Patrie, and Mr. and Mrs. Rossi worked at Starbucks Cafe for five years. The Tribune regrets this error.