Out on the Town, Student Life

Uncovering Montreal’s indie coffee shops

Coffee has long been synonymous with university life—students rely on caffeine boosts to fuel up for early morning classes or power through late-night study sessions. Luckily, those in pursuit of a perfect study spot and cup of coffee can explore Montreal’s many indie coffee shops and roasters. //The McGill Tribune// highlights the distinct stories and features behind a selection of these shops.

1. Le Brȗloir – 318 Rue Fleury Ouest 

Le Brȗloir, roaster and coffee shop, prides itself on providing high-quality coffee products to customers. Since its opening 10 years ago, Le Brȗloir has become a centrepiece of its neighbourhood,  fostering a of community of local coffee lovers. It has subsequently expanded to include Le Petit Brȗloir, a smaller sister shop, located a short walk away from the McGill campus at 8485 St. Laurent Boulevard.

Vincent D’Aoust, the owner of Le Brȗloir, enjoys seeing community members from all walks of life enter the cafe. 

“The essence of our coffee shop is bringing people together,” D’Aoust said in an interview with //The McGill Tribune//. “[We provide] a very warm atmosphere [with a] close-knit, eclectic clientele that ranges from young students to neighbouring families to retirees.”

Le Brȗloir has a unique roasting process: it uses an in-house roaster to produce its coffee, where coffee beans are heated to different temperatures based on the type of roast, allowing the shop to create a variety of flavours. 

Le Brȗloir has built close relationships with farmers in Honduras, whom they purchase their coffee beans from. In supporting individual small-scale farmers, Le Brȗloir hopes to help support an ethical supply chain. 

“We serve coffee, but we understand the supply chain,” D’Aoust explained. “Having relationships [with the farmers] makes us more passionate about what we do.” 

2. Pikolo Espresso Bar – 3418b Park Avenue

If you’re in need of a caffeine boost or a study space located just minutes away from McGill’s main campus, look no further than Pikolo Espresso Bar. Pikolo is a quaint, timeless coffee shop known for its rich lattes, lightly roasted coffees, and delicious baked goods.

Pikolo Espresso Bar’s founder, Marie-Eve Laroche, has been passionate about coffee for years. After working in a coffee shop in Whistler, British Columbia as well as on a coffee plantation, Laroche opened up Pikolo in July 2011.

Laroche’s time working on a coffee plantation was a major turning point for her love of coffee and knowledge of the craft. 

“That’s really where I went deeper into understanding coffee from crop to cup,” Laroche said. “I realized, ‘Wow, this is what I wanna do.’”

Pikolo’s unique environment and community, fostered by students, are its greatest attractions. The shop hosts a warm, cozy, and comfortable ambience, with old-fashioned, rustic undertones.

“[Pikolo’s atmosphere] is very vintage and industrial, which really fits with the neighbourhood and the old building,” Laroche said. “It has a lot of character, and a fun, young energy.”

3. Structure Coffee Roasters – 460 McGill Street

Structure Coffee Roasters, located just outside of Montreal’s historic Old Port, is a community-oriented roaster and coffee shop. 

One of Structure’s co-owners, Marco Dieckmann, discovered his passion for coffee after visiting locally owned coffee shops across 40 different countries.

“There’s no better travel guide to a city than getting to know a local coffee shop,” Dieckmann explained. “[Structure] is our Montreal take on specialty coffee [….] Our coffee is both roasted and packaged with care in Montreal.” 

Incorporating elements of Japanese and Scandinavian style into its design, Structure blends the heritage of its location with its modern ethos. 

“While being in a century-old building, we wanted to give a contemporary approach to presenting the coffee,” Dieckmann said.

Above all, Dieckmann recognizes that the cafe is about more than just the coffee and values the close relationships Structure has fostered.

“The whole coffee business is about people [and] the relationship between the baristas and clients,” Dieckmann said. “Coffee connects the people.”

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