The Best Cup of Coffee in Every Province
Canada's best coffee shops have everything from fair trade brew and mouthwatering treats to atmospheric interiors and majestic views.
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A really good cup of joe is a simple, beautiful thing. But not all mugs are created equal. Judging the best java is all about the quality of the beans and the taste of the brew, as well as the feeling of the atmosphere all around you, as you sip it. Here we present the finest cup of coffee in every province (and the territories), from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
Dark Star Coffee Roasters (Carbonear), Newfoundland and Labrador
Darren Randell knows a thing or two about how to make a great cup. His first enterprise, Hava Java, opened in 1995 and was one of the first boutique coffee shops on the island, quickly becoming a favourite hangout in St. John’s. While that shop has since closed, he and partner Mark Royle are now replicating that fun, community experience once again. Their new shop, Dark Star, opened in May of 2019 and is located in Carbonear, a seaside town about an hour drive from the St. John’s The shop roasts its own single estate, organic, fair trade beans and serves up steaming cups in the historic telephone exchange building, built back in 1929. And the view? Maybe the best of all—with a back deck, right on the water, overlooking rugged green islands and calm blue sea.
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Salty Rose’s and the Periwinkle Café (Ingonish), Nova Scotia
The Cabot Trail is arguably Canada’s most stunning drive, tracing the northernmost peninsula of Cape Breton Island, curving between mountains and sea. And, if you’re making the 298-km trek, it’s worth stopping outside the entrance to Cape Breton National Park, for a caffeine break at the Periwinkle Café. Located in a lovingly restored farmhouse in the charming, scenic village of Ingonish, Periwinkle serves fair trade brew, roasted by Nova Scotia’s North Mountain Fine Coffees. The menu is sourced locally, with some 90 percent of the produce used grown right on Cape Breton, and the lobster roll is legendary. If you want to tarry longer, do some hiking, or head to one of two beaches within walking distance, you can even stay the night. The on-site inn, Salty Rose’s, features two adorable suites. Bonus: you’ll smell the fresh coffee and baked goods wafting up in the morning.
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Tipsy Muse Café (Fredericton), New Brunswick
This downtown favourite is a hub of creativity. The coffee is excellent, and those who can’t decide—say between cinnamon or salted caramel—an order a flight of lattes featuring three five-to-seven-ounce taster cups, each infused with a different flavour. Tipsy Muse is co-owned and operated by Krista Tousenard, a popular local musician and Rob Pinnock, a rock DJ who everybody calls Uncle Rob. Music is always in the air—whether it’s vinyl spinning on the record player or live performances (as well as slam poetry readings and other fun). The café also offers tours and workshops, including in-house lessons on the “secrets of a barista.” Participants learn about coffee farming and roasting, with hands-on opportunities to work the grinder and pull their own shot of espresso.
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Receiver Coffee Co. (Charlottetown), Prince Edward Island
Receiver has become the island go-to for coffee lovers since opening its first location in 2014, quickly expanding to four locations in the Charlottetown area. Each spot has its own style, flair and history. One is housed in the 19th century Brass Shop, where the Prince Edward Island Railway once polished their locomotives. Another has set up in the new Founders Food Hall and Market, where you can also dig into a gourmet burger, a craft beer or your choice of fresh vegan food at one of the nearby outlets. Receiver’s hub at the Creamery Boardwalk bakes fresh pastries and organic breads for all four locations, with bags of beans piled high inside and an open on-site roasting operation allowing visitors to see how the magic happens.
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Café des Artistes (Gaspé), Quebec
This eclectic, colourful coffee shop is located at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Surrounded by the majesty of the easternmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains as they meet the sea, everything inside this downtown café is a work of art. The owner, Jacques Legault, has spent two decades collecting the work of local artists, so you can sip your java surrounded by stained glass, paintings and sculptures produced right in the area. The menu offers a wide variety of coffees and reads like poetry—from the Phare Fouetté (whipped lighthouse), a cappuccino royale with whipped cream, to La Baie au Lait (bay milk), a latte that you can sip on the back patio, which overlooks the Bay of Gaspé.
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Rapids End Roastery (Peterborough), Ontario
Once, Daniel Biro, the owner of this roastery and coffee shop, travelled the world with rock band Hawk Nelson—experiencing a variety of premium coffee cultures, from Italy to Seattle to Australia. Those experiences inspired his new shop, located in the heart of the Kawartha Lakes, where he roasts beans from Ethiopia, Colombia and El Salvador. But Rapids End, whose name refers to area’s original Ojibwa name, Nogojiwanong (literally: place at the end of the rapids), is firmly rooted in the region. Peterborough is home to the national canoe museum and the area is defined by a chain of glacier-carved lakes, a favourite for boaters and swimmers and those seeking other aquatic pursuits. Rapids End feels a lot like one of the cottages that line the many shorelines in the region, with nautical maps and even a full-sized canoe hanging from the wall. Grab a cup, before heading out on the lake, a mere ten minutes away.
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Lazy Bear Lodge (Churchill), Manitoba
Set on the shores of Hudson Bay, where the taiga meets the tundra, the subarctic town of Churchill is a wildlife lover’s paradise often dubbed The Polar Bear Capital of the World. The massive white beasts sometimes saunter right down the main street, and beluga whales spawn a short walk away, where the Churchill River meets the Bay. Lazy Bear Lodge, a log-cabin hotel, café and outfitter, is northern marvel in itself. The lodge is built from boreal wood reclaimed from a forest fire and features windows that once hung in a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post, a big stone fireplace, and Douglas Fir floors. Lattés come adorned with specialized designs, such as cute polar bear paws and beluga whales stencilled in cocoa power. Tuck into a dinner of pan-fried arctic char, braised, peppered elk or slow-roasted Manitoba bison, then grab a steaming cup to stay up late and take in the aurora borealis.
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Broadway Roastery (Saskatoon), Saskatchewan
A favourite for java junkies since it opened in 1993, this stylish café imports and roasts some of the finest coffee on earth. Sip a steaming cup of their signature Café Broadway (a decadent mix of hazelnut espresso, chocolate milk and chocolate whipped cream), or cool down with a Vietnamese iced coffee. The café also uses beans from around the world, including from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, India, Peru, Colombia and Sumatra, as well as distinctive in-house blends, all of which are fair trade. Grab a cup (and a bag, to go), and wander Broadway, a five-block urban village that’s home to some of Saskatoon’s coolest restaurants, barbershops, boutiques and festivals.
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Eleanor and Laurent (Edmonton), Alberta
Opened in summer 2020, this newly renovated, three-story French-style bistro and café honours the founders of Garneau, one of the city’s oldest and most historic neighbourhoods. In 1874, Eleanor and Laurent Garneau arrived and settled here, just southwest of the centre of town. Laurent was a Métis man who fought alongside Louis Riel in the Red River Rebellion, and the two quickly became the heart of local cultural, playing music and organizing parties. Now, their namesake serves up excellent delicious and creative coffee—one is infused with a lavender compote, and another with chocolate and hazelnut—alongside all sorts of handmade breads and sweets (including the most ornate éclairs you’ve ever seen). Enjoy it all, and the view, too, which sweeps across the North Saskatchewan River Valley.
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Rooftop Coffee Roasters (Fernie), British Columbia
You’ll want to warm up here before hitting the slopes—some say the area has the best snow in the Rockies. The founders, a family of three, started roasting on their home rooftop about six years ago, when head roaster Keegan Street was just 16, scooping unroasted beans from burlap sacks in the basement and bringing them up in buckets. They then sold their creations at local festivals and farmer’s markets, where people lined up to buy them. Now, their light-roasted, single-origin coffee is a local staple. You can grab it in-house, or at their fun walk-up pickup window, before browsing the friendly downtown streets, which include galleries, a spa, a distillery and a chocolate-maker. And if you still want more of their brew? They also offer a monthly subscription service, where they will deliver bags of coffee, right to your door.
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Bon Ton and Co. (Dawson City, Yukon), The Territories
Drawn like metal to a magnet, as many as 100,000 hopeful, would-be prospectors travelled from around the world to this outpost during the Klondike gold rush. And while there’s still gold in them hills, tourism is now the main draw here. The town maintains a frontier feel: the streets are wooden boardwalks and Parks Canada preserves the buildings—seventeen of them date back to the Klondike, including the stately Commissioner’s Residence, and the Palace Grand Theatre. And while it’s remote—just a tick below the Arctic Circle—you can still get a great cup here, at Bon Ton and Co., which serves both cold brews and iced lattes, as well as the usual variety of hot espresso options. The food is elevated, too—they make their own charcuterie at their in-house butcher shop and use cheeses from the nearby Klondike Creamery, Yukon’s only dairy farm.
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