Maverick Coffee is another of chances discoveries of a coffee shop right outside my hotel, in this case in the Paradise Valley Plaza, an old-style outdoor mall in Scottsdale, where I was staying on my visit to Phoenix last week. Maverick, which opened in 2015, in many ways feels like a typical American coffee shop, but when it comes to the coffee itself, it serves a house-blend from San Francisco’s Ritual, with a monthly guest, chosen by popular vote on social media, plus decaf on espresso.
However, that’s only the start. There’s the obligatory bulk-brew, while if you really want to explore, Maverick has a constantly-changing selection of four single-origins on filter through the Aeropress, V60, Chemex and cafetiere. When one bag finishes, another goes on in its place. The range of roasters is bewildering, with Maverick supporting both local roasters and pulling in coffee from all over the country, most of which is for sale on the retail shelves by the counter.
If none of that takes your fancy, there is a selection of loose-leaf tea, various iced and cold-brew coffees, plus small but tempting all-day breakfast and lunch menus, all backed up by a variety of cake.
Café Myriade, as well as being one of Montréal’s first speciality coffee shops, was one of my first coffee experiences in Montréal. When I visited in 2013, there was just one Myriade, which opened in 2008. Now there are three: the original, this one (Dominion Square) and a third in Saint Denis (formerly Le Couteau – The Knife). Dominion Square is by far the smallest of the three, tucked away in the basement of the Club Monaco clothing store.
It’s also fair to say that as a result it’s one of the most elegant speciality coffee shops I’ve been in, with the distinct European café feel: marble-topped tables, tiled floor and gorgeous scrollwork behind the counter. At the same time, there’s the core Myriade offering: espresso and batch-brew from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel, a small selection of pastries and a Kees van der Westen espresso machine (in this case, a gorgeous Spirit).
That I ended up in Los Angeles in the first place, let alone having coffee at Go Get Em Tiger, is entirely down to Lee of Silhouette, who, while I was discussing my current trip, simply would not believe that I was going to drive past Los Angeles and not call in. So, I decided to change my plans and spend a day in LA, visiting coffee shops and being a tourist (Lee, I loved it!).
Go Get Em Tiger is on Hollywood Boulevard, in the Los Feliz neighbourhood, sharing a space with McConnell’s ice cream parlour, which is on the right, with Go Get Em Tiger on the left. Long and thin, there’s no seating inside, just “standing” down the left-hand side at various broad window-sills. To sit down, you need the raised terrace in front of the shop, which is normally a good option, unless you arrive on one of the (rare) days when it’s been pouring with rain…
Go Get Em Tiger is a multi-roaster, with two options on espresso and two more on batch-brew. It also has a good range of cakes and an impressive brunch menu (7am to 4pm) cooked in the open-plan kitchen at the back on the right.
Café Myriade can claim to have planted the seeds of the wave of new coffee spots emerging in Montréal in the last 18 months. It opened back in 2008 and many of the recent crop, including Pikolo Espresso and Le Couteau/The Knife, can trace their lineage and/or inspiration back to Myriade and its owner, Anthony. It can also stake a claim to having introduced the awesome-looking Kees van der Westen Triplette espresso machine to Montréal.
However, despite this impressive heritage, I very nearly walked out of Myriade about 10 seconds after walking in. It was heaving, all the tables were taken, there was a queue at the counter and the loud music was really very loud. To cap it all, I was in a foul mood. However, I forced myself to stay and was very glad that I did.
Once I’d settled down and got a table, I found that I loved the place. The atmosphere was great, as was the music, although it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The coffee was excellent and the staff knowledgeable and helpful. Even the other customers were friendly! What’s more, it’s right in the heart of downtown Montréal where independent coffee spots seem thin on the ground.
You know somewhere is going to be good when everybody you meet tells you to go there. So it was with Le Couteau (The Knife), one of the new wave of coffee shops that have sprung up in Montréal in the last couple of years. In fact, as this post is published, Le Couteau is precisely one year and six days old…
Located just around the corner from the Mont-Royal metro station, Le Couteau is a wonderful place. It’s spacious, full of light and the coffee is superb. The cakes are pretty awesome too. Like many of the places I visited in Montréal, the focus is firmly on the coffee, with little else to distract you, although there is tea and hot chocolate for those of that persuasion.
At first glance, the wooden benches don’t look that inviting, but they are actually very comfortable, while the much sought-after window seats look ideal (I never got to try one since they were all taken). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if I lived in Montréal, I’d be in here all the time (except I’d be in all other great places I visited as well; something of a dilemma!).
The Pikolo Espresso Bar in downtown Montréal came highly recommended. No, really. Very highly recommended: I’d only been in Montréal a day and already lots of people had said that I should go there. Under such circumstances, there’s always the possibility for disappointment, so it was with some trepidation that I visited one sunny afternoon.
However, I was far from disappointed. In fact, I fell in love with the place the moment I stepped through the door. Very long and thin, and with wonderfully-high ceilings, there is something about Pikolo to which I was instantly attracted. Located in a beautiful, old building, I knew this was going to be a great place to drink coffee. It probably helps that the coffee is pretty good too.
Frankly, what’s there not to like about Pikolo? It’s small, but never felt crowded; popular, but never felt busy; the staff are great and passionate about the coffee; it’s full of light and I even liked the music! Pikolo has been open about 18 months and is one of the places at the forefront of a quiet coffee revolution taking place in Montréal. With places like Pikolo, the revolution is sure to be a success!