This post originally appeared on Anne Drinks Coffee.
I am asked a lot about Ottawa’s ‘best’ independent coffee shops. ‘Best’ is a big word. I may drink a lot of coffee but that likely does not qualify me to know ‘best’. What I do know is ‘favourites’. This is my list of favourite coffee shops in and around Ottawa and I have definitely been to many!
My list just considers coffee shops specifically for their espresso-based drinks. I find that those great at espresso may not be great at brew and vice versa. Let me know about your experiences. Did you find a new place for me to try?
It’s always a good sign when there is a great bean in the grinder and a great machine on the counter, but I find it ultimately comes down to the talent and care of the barista whether the drink will be dreamy. That observation almost bears repeating.
My personal tastes are towards a nutty caramelly espresso shot. I don’t like sour and I don’t like acidic. I like my milk to not be so hot that I can’t enjoy the first sip right away. I don’t want my milk-based drinks to be made with skim or 1%. If I am going to bother, the drink needs fat for flavour. I often get a double shot. I like an espresso drink that is not too milky. I’ll usually order a small. I prefer an 8 ounce cup. If your ‘small’ is 12 ounces or larger, we likely won’t have a love connection. I like my milk dense and small on the microbubbles. Consistency matters too. My list moves around because consistency issues come up.
Ambiance in the shop matters but your espresso matters more to me. There are wonderful coffee shops to hang out in Ottawa that aren’t my favourites for an espresso drink. Then I play it safe and get a mug of brew. But that’s not this list.
I love a great coffee experience. What turns my crank may not turn yours so that’s why this is more a list of my favourites than ‘the best’. And for sure it’s not meant to be a directory of independent coffee shops. (Just my favourites!) I hope it helps you find some new places to check out.
Sometimes I have written more detailed blog posts with pictures over on my blog If Music Be The Food of Love, Play On.
Blumen Studio at 465 Parkdale Ave, Ottawa. Their bean Rufino comes from an Italian who roasts near Vaughan, Ontario. Their machine is the Elektra from Italy. I get the Caffe Crema. I love it when Kat is my barista. I love her flowershop/coffeeshop combo. It is a quiet place and when I need calm, this zen place is worth going off my flight path.
The Ministry of Coffee at 279 Elgin Street, Ottawa. I often will get a Cortado. They have used a number of beans in rotation. Social, 49th Parallel, Phil and Sebastian, Pig Iron to name a few. Always happy when Alex or Fadi are pulling my shots.
Bread and Sons Bakery at 195 Bank Street, Ottawa uses the 49th Parallel Old School espresso bean. Their machine is the Nuova Simonelli from Italy. They use Cochrane’s Dairy milk. I get a latte.
Morning Owl Coffeehouse at 538 Rochester Street, Ottawa. They use a custom blend from Equator Coffee Roasters in Almonte. Their machine is a Rancilio which they have had since they first opened. (Only open Mon to Fri) I get a small Australian Flat White. I like Barista Tommy!!
Morning Owl Coffeehouse at 139 Bank Street, Ottawa. They use a custom blend from Equator Coffee Roasters in Almonte. I get a small Australian Flat White. Barista Sean is the guy to get the job done.
Café qui pense at 204 Main Street, Ottawa. They use the Equator Coffee Roasters’ espresso bean. Their machine is the La Marzocco from Italy. I get the Euro Cappuccino.
Bread By Us at 1065 Wellington Street West, Ottawa. I enjoy a small Cortado. They have an ECM machine and use the Happy Goat Coffee Company bean.
Equator Coffee Roasters at 412 Churchill Avenue,Ottawa. Thrilled to see Equator open in Westboro. I count on Chris Petrie to make me a fine small flat white. Of course they are using their beans from the roastery in Almonte. Their machine is a La Marzocco from Italy.
Red Door Provisions at 117 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa. They are using Pilot coffee from Toronto. Big Bro blend. I get a flat white. But truth be told, I go for their scone board!! Their machine is a La Marzocco from Italy. They have pretty red cups and that’s a cool factor.
Bridgehead (15 coffeehouses in Ottawa). They roast their own beans on Anderson Street at the corner of Preston Street. I get a small latte.
OUTSKIRTS OF DOWNTOWN OTTAWA
CC’s Corner at 5 Lennox Street, Richmond. They are using Bridgehead coffee from Ottawa. Cam is probably the best barista ever to pull the Bridgehead bean. I get a flat white. Their machine is an ECM. Their shop has extra funk because they also have a mini antique shop in the the coffee shop. Super eclectic. Plus Cam is always spinning the vinyls. Great record collection!
Quitters Coffee at 1523 Main Street, Stittsville. They are using Pilot coffee from Toronto. Big Bro blend. I get a flat white and like when Rick has his hand on the portafilter. Their machine is a La Marzocco from Italy.
Equator Coffee Roasters at 451 Ottawa Street, Almonte. They roast their own beans on-site. I like their Lil’ Latte. Just a 5 ouncer. Potent.
Neat Coffee Shop at 1715 Calabogie Road, Burnstown. They roast their own beans. Great food too.
442 Coffee Bar inside Grace In The Kitchen at 442 Hazeldean Road, Kanata. They use beans from Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee.
Alice’s Village Cafe at 3773 Carp Road, Carp. They use a bean roasted just for them from Gaia Java Coffee Company in Stittsville. Their machine is the La Marzocco from Italy.
COFFEE SHOPS UNDER CONSIDERATION (I need more visits!):
Oh So Good at 261 Richond Road, Ottawa. Sarp works at their Westboro location and I trust him to be my barista. I have had a coffee twice and both times were great.
I Deal Coffee at 176 Dalhousie Street. I have only been once.
Café Délice at 197 Kent Street at Laurier. I have only been once. They use the Intelligentsia bean.
Planet Coffee at 24A York Street in the Byward Market. I have only been once.
Illume Espresso Bar at 1433 Wellington Street West, Ottawa. They were using the Phil & Sebastian beans. But they change their bean around a lot to other brands. Their lattes are one of the more expensive in town and I want it to be pretty perfect for that kind of coin. I was a fan when Fadi (now at Ministry of Coffee) was involved with the opening and Amy was my barista. I pop in every once in a while to see how things are going because the location is on my most traveled route. I wish I felt more settled on this shop as I know others just love it.
Concept Espresso. They are a pop-up. They have an ECM Controventro espresso machine. I like what Sarp does as a barista!
Macarons et Madeleines at 1323 Wellington Street West, Ottawa. The first time I went they were using the JJ Bean from Vancouver. They have a Rancilio espresso machine. I have only had a coffee two times here so not a lot to go on yet. Cute shop but small so don’t be sharing your secrets. (I’ve heard a few.) Looking forward to their patio.
Joël’s Coffee in Rockland. I have only been once. I bought their in-house roasted beans to brew at home and really enjoyed them.