Dispatch Coffee, Le Plateau

A lovely cortado is a ceramic bowl at Dispatch Coffee on Boulevard Saint Laurent in Montréal.Is it a coffee shop? Show room? Retailer? Actually, Dispatch Coffee is all of these and more. It’s also a coffee truck, or it was. When I first came to Montréal in 2013, several people mentioned a coffee truck (Dispatch), but I didn’t have time to visit. Fast forward 5½ years and Dispatch has a roastery/café in Mile End, a coffee counter at McGill University and a beautiful coffee shop/showroom on Boulevard Saint Laurent, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot.

Dispatch roasts its own coffee, all single-origins, at its Mile End location, emphasising fresh, seasonal coffee, all available to buy in-store. When I visited, there were six different origins, one of which was a decaf. One of these, plus the decaf, is available as espresso, another as batch-brew and any of them can be had through the Aeropress. The espresso and batch-brew options change regularly, the staff putting on two or three bags at a time, then moving on when they’re done. This means that they can easily have two different espressos on each day, although the batch-brew changes more slowly, maybe just once a day. There’s also a small selection of cakes, pastries and pre-prepared salads if you’re hungry.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Montréal's Boulevard Saint Laurent, at the corner of Avenue Duluth, is Dispatch Coffee.
  • However, go around the corner onto Duluth and suddenly it's much more striking!
  • This is the approach along Avenue Duluth itself.
  • Dispatch is right on the corner, the door at 45⁰, flanked by windows.
  • The view from just inside the door, with the counter, dead ahead, dominating the space.
  • There's a broad area off the left where you can order. There's also seating down here...
  • ... including this bench in the window by the door and one on the other side of the pillar.
  • Another view of the first of the two benches.
  • The door itself, as seen from the inside...
  • ... and another view of the island counter, dead ahead.
  • Another broad space is to the right, along the front of the shop, again with a long bench.
  • This leads to a long, shallow ramp at the right-hand end...
  • ... giving access to a raised seating area along the right-hand wall. This is the view back.
  • The seating consists of two of these tables, separated by a C-shaped bench.
  • This one is at the front, by the windows. Both tables are popular with laptop users...
  • ... partly because of the neatly-placed power outlets under the lip of the table.
  • The view from the raised seating area.
  • There is also access at the far end, where you'll find the other table.
  • Finally, there's a long, concrete bench/step running along the front of the raised area.
  • A view across the island counter from the back corner.
  • There's a water station and takeaway area built into the wall behind the counter.
  • The Dispatch logo on the right-hand wall.
  • The counter doubles as retail shelving for all manner of coffee-making kit...
  • ... while the front part is given over more to merchandising...
  • ... leaving the corner closest to the door for retail bags of coffee.
  • There really is an awful lot of coffee for sale!
  • It's all single-origins, by the way, all roasted by Dispatch, and very seasonal.
  • There's a retail list on the counter if you're interested. In English (left) and French (right).
  • So, to business. Head along the left-hand side of the counter to order...
  • ... passing the cakes, soft drinks and salads as you go.
  • The menu is on a pillar in the middle of the counter.
  • It's a pretty simple affair.
  • There's an Aeropress bar on the far side of the counter where you can try any coffee...
  • ... with the batch-brewer and EK-43 grinder in the middle of the island.
  • At the far end, past a hot-water boiller, is the espresso machine, a La Marzocco Linea...
  • ... with a custom housing and cut-away sides.
  • The business end of the Linea.
  • This is a great vantage point for watching espresso extract.
  • Here it comes (plus its reflection).
  • I started off with a cortado, in this gorgeous ceramic bowl.
  • Lovely latte art.
  • It came with a glass of sparkling water.
  • I popped back the folllowing evening for a decaf cappuccino, which came in a mug...
  • ... and had even better latte art!
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I really struck lucky with my apartment in Montréal. Not only handy for the office and a ten-minute walk from Paquebot Mont-Royal (Café Plume as was), it was, as I discovered, just a few minutes’ walk from both Dispatch Coffee and, along Rue Rachel, Café Névé, two very disparate coffee shops.

On the corner of Boulevard Saint Laurent and Avenue Duluth, Dispatch Coffee’s one of many buildings in the neighbourhood decorated (on the Duluth side) with an amazing mural. Inside, it’s clean, modern and austere, with concrete walls and floors, softened a little by light wood panelling, which matches the furniture. It’s almost square, being slightly deeper than it is wide, with the door on the corner, at 45⁰. There are floor-to-ceiling windows along the front, facing the busy Boulevard Saint Laurent, while another, much shorter floor-to-ceiling window to the left adds to the sense of light and space. This natural light is supplemented by fluorescent strip lights and occasional spotlights embedded in the ceiling.

Dispatch is split into two, with the massive island counter, a clean, white, clinical affair, occupying three quarters of the space. It runs from front to back, acting as both showroom at the elegant curved front, which faces Boulevard Saint Laurent, and coffee shop counter down the sides. A podium counter in the centre holds the batch-brew plus EK-43 grinder, while another has the sink.

On entering, you’re naturally led to the counter, retail coffee bags on the corner. Next comes a generous display case with the pastries, granola, salads and soft drinks, followed by the till and serving area. Then there’s a hot water boiler, the Mythos 1 grinder and a custom La Marzocco Linea with a curved case and transparent end panels. It looks beautiful, but the curved top makes it impossible to store anything there, which is typically where you find the cups. Instead the baristas have to reach down under the counter for them. If you turn right when you reach the counter, you find, past the retail bags, merchandising, and then various coffee-making equipment laid out much as you would see it in a high-end store. There are various filter methods, grinders, scales, kettles and, at the far end, a Sage home espresso machine.

There’s limited seating around the counter. A long bench occupies the first window to the right of the door, while there is a shorter one in the window to the left, followed by a third bench against the wall, opposite the till. The bulk of the seating is on the right, where a raised concrete platform less than a metre high runs along the right-had wall. Access is via a shallow ramp at the front or three broad steps at the back. A single concrete step, which serves as a long bench, runs between the two, facing the right-hand side of the counter. The platform holds two tables, front and back, seating four on long benches, with in-built power sockets under the table. Between them, a C-shaped bench with a low coffee table faces out across Dispatch.

I visited twice one in the morning for a Cortado, served in a lovely, small, ceramic bowl and made with the La Union from Colombia. The perfect ratio of coffee to milk, it resulted in a strong, biscuity coffee. The only slight issue I had was that the bowl is hot to the touch, but otherwise is beautiful to look at and (once it’s cooled down a bit) hold. I returned the next evening for a decaf cappuccino, another fine coffee, this time served in a broad, cylindrical mug.

4021 BOULEVARD SAINT LAURENT • MONTRÉAL • QC H2W 1Y4 • CANADA
http://dispatchcoffee.ca +1 514- 587-6463
Monday 07:30 – 19:00 Roaster Dispatch (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 19:00 Seating Benches, Tables
Wednesday 07:30 – 19:00 Food Cakes, Salads, Granola
Thursday 07:30 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:30 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:30 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:30 – 18:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 8th, 9th October 2018

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