• F&B

    My Little Cup

    My Little CupI haven’t had the chance to visit any new coffee spots lately. However, there is one in particular that I walk by every morning on my way to work that caught my attention ever since the renovations began for its new installation. My Little Cup opened some time around January or early February of this year. It didn’t take long before professionals working in the area would line up every day for an espresso and some freshly baked goods. Why did it take me 4 months to finally give it a try?

    I was early for work last week which is something very rare for me (ah, maybe that’s why it took 4 months). There were only two people standing at the counter so I thought: “Here’s my chance to finally try their coffee! I won’t have to wait too long.” I was right. It took less than 5 minutes for the barista to finish the two orders before making my cappuccino. During that time, at least four other people walked up to the counter for their morning coffee.

    The man who took my order, whom I suspect is the owner of My Little Cup, was simply pleasant at such an early time. He greeted with a smile and was very polite. There are places that I’ve been to where the employees were just lazy-looking. This team is definitely not like that. You can feel the positive energy flowing behind the espresso machine.

    When it comes to the location, I think it’s ideal mostly for people that take public transit and those that work in the area. It’s located in the underground tunnel of the McGill subway station which is the main one to downtown. There is another successful coffee counter with a similar concept called Tunnel Espresso Bar not too far away. What differentiate My Little Cup from that place is that it has better visibility, it’s more spacious behind the counter and around it, it’s better equipped and it simply has more to offer to its clientele when it comes to drinks and food. In addition, the owner decided to open his business next door to a Second Cup. It’s a brave move but also, very smart.

    My Little Cup - OrderI ordered a cappuccino and an almond croissant which came up to $7 or $8. Considering the size of the coffee, you may think it’s expensive compared to a similar order at a Second Cup or a Starbucks. However, you wouldn’t have gotten the same flavourful taste. Nobody should have to drink watered-down coffee and that’s one of the problems with big chain coffee shops. The quality is just not there most of the time As for the almond croissant, it was delicious and too much for me to handle. I was only able to eat half of it and saved the other half as a snack for my night class.

    I’m happy to say that I have found my new favourite place to have coffee. I would have loved for My Little Cup to have the same setup as the original one in Belgium, an actual coffee shop where people can sit and read a book or do some work. Perhaps with time, Montrealers will be blessed with such a place.

    My Little Cup
    2055 Robert-Bourassa Blvd.
    Montreal, QC  H3A 3H9
    Website

  • F&B

    Café Castel

    Imagine yourself sitting on a terrace somewhere in the South of France, Spain or even Italy, having a coffee on a peaceful summer afternoon. Even though it’s currently glacial in Montreal, that was the feeling I had when I stepped inside Café Castel. I had been anticipating this coffee experience ever since I saw pictures of the interior on this Top 10 list of coffee places to visit in Montreal before I die (or something like that). The decor made the ambiance absolutely perfect. I’ve been searching for a place just like this one.

    Located by the McGill University downtown campus, I was surprised it wasn’t filled with students studying after class or meeting up with friends. Though it was busy, the café was spacious enough that it didn’t feel crowded or intolerably noisy. I easily found an empty table by a large window and made myself comfortable while waiting for a classmate to arrive.

    When I placed my order, the usual cappuccino, the barista was very nice and courteous, and even greeted me with a smile as soon as I made eye contact with him. I asked for a chocolate croissant to go with my cappuccino but unfortunately, there were none left. Instead, he took the time to identify each type of baked goods he had left for me to choose from. I opted for an almond croissant and it was quite good. It wasn’t too sweet and the texture was soft. Freshly made!

    Cappuccino and Almond Croissant at Café CastelThe longer I sat there, the more I started to fall in love with the place. I saw myself studying for midterms or even blogging. Could this be my third home after the office? As I was daydreaming about spending all of my spare time in this coffee shop, I took a sip of my cappuccino…and it brought me back to reality. Initially, I was very happy when I saw the size of my coffee because it wasn’t a minuscule cup like at the other places I’ve been to. However, the quantity of coffee in the mug didn’t compensate for the lack of flavour. It tasted like watered-down coffee…or a latte. The barista might have put too much milk or brewed the coffee too quickly. I was so disappointed that I didn’t bother finishing my cappuccino and went to class without it.

    What could have been perfection fell short on one thing it was supposed to be good for: its coffee. I’d like to give Café Castel the benefit of the doubt simply because the atmosphere is exactly what I want in a coffee place: warm, cozy and relaxing. I think I will give its coffee a second chance. If it’s still horrid, I might just go for its almond croissants next time…and will have tea instead.

    Café Castel
    1015 Sherbrooke Street West
    Montreal, QC H3A 1G5
    Website
  • F&B

    Café Humble Lion

    CappuccinoI had been wanting to pass by Café Humble Lion for quite some time now but was never able to find the right moment out of my hectic schedule at work to go. I think at some point I told myself I was going to try their coffee before I head to the office in the morning but my love affair with my warm bed gets in the way of my early bird plans…every time. Luckily, I was early for one of my night classes last week and thought it was my chance. It might never happen again. I made sure I had the right address and made my way to coffee spot.

    The majority of the comments and reviews that Café Humble Lion received online are very positive. I have to agree that the decor of the café is absolutely charming due to its simplicity. The barista that took my order was very nice though the only words we actually exchanged were “Hi, I’d like a cappuccino to go please. Thank you.” and “It will be $4.45…Here’s your cappuccino.” I think the fact that the she was polite, pleasant and all smiles gave me a good impression right off the bat.

    The cappuccino I ordered tasted great and chocolaty. It was smooth and flavourful without being too bitter. The milk didn’t dilute the taste of the coffee at all but it did make my beverage rather lukewarm instead of hot. It felt like it had been sitting on the table too long in between sips.

    Since I had at least an hour and half to waste before class, I wanted to sit down to enjoy my coffee and catch up on my readings. It was around 4:30PM and the place was a bit crowded. You had some customers sitting on the side by the counter against the wall, some were just standing around, drinking their coffee or eating their muffin while having a conversation with a friend or colleague. There were less than ten small round tables in the back and they were all occupied. According to Google, this café is busy from the moment it opens until closing time. It’s great for the owner but unfortunate for people like me who wants a nice spot to sit down and relax.

    While I liked their coffee, the deal breaker for me was the lack of space and noisy chit chatters. Once all the stools and tables are taken, there is not much room for you to be comfortable enough to enjoy a coffee and read the newspaper for example. Unless you are there with a friend, you can easily just stand anywhere with a coffee in your hand and talk as if you were at happy hours. I prefer a place where I can sit and relax with my coffee…and obviously a good book. I would come back for a quick one to go before class; chances of getting a cozy spot to sit are very slim to none so I’d rather not get my hopes up and show up to be disappointed.

    Café Humble Lion
    904 Sherbrooke Street West
    Montreal, QC  H3A 1G3
    Website