Coffee in Squamish; our Home away from Home

If you head north from Vancouver, along Highway 99, in less than an hour you will reach Squamish; a small-ish but growing town. It is about halfway between Vancouver and the very well-known ski-town of Whistler.
To some people it's home, to others it's a town you pass through on the way to Whistler, and maybe a good place for a brief stop along Highway 99.
To us, it has been our Canadian home for almost a year and a half.

We didn't expect that we would find much in the way of a good cup of coffee here, but we were pleasantly surprised; there are some good choices in Squamish.

We've probably tried EVERY coffee shop here, so we thought we'd create a brief guide to coffee in Squamish, so you can get a better idea of where to go next time you're visiting or passing through.

Some things to note:

  • These are not necessarily in order of preference
  • We are using our rating system as below. The rating is for COFFEE ONLY - not based on food options, location or service

               ☕                   Not good, didn't want to finish
☕☕               Okay, wouldn't return
 ☕☕☕            Good, nothing special
☕☕☕☕        Great, would go back
☕☕☕☕☕    Excellent, a favourite!

 

We'll also add in a last-minute mention of Galileo Coffee Company and Roastery (for some reason we can't find any photos!). As we lived in Britannia Beach for a while, it was a place we would visit frequently. The coffee can be good (depends on the day) but they have a really good selection of food, particularly their Breakfast sandwiches and Lemon & Blueberry scones. Located South of Squamish, it's a good place to stop if you are heading to and from Vancouver.  

Whether you are a Vancouver local, or from elsewhere and just visiting the area, it's worth stopping by and spending some time in Squamish.
Not only are there good coffee options, but also lots of great food, recreational activities and attractions (we might talk about those in another blog post). 
Whistler might be high on your list to visit, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to skip Squamish to get there. Instead, why not try incorporate it into your visit and explore more of the Sea to Sky corridor than just Whistler.   

We hope you enjoy tasting the coffee in Squamish. We're pretty sure we've hit most of the coffee spots, but if there's any we've missed let us know here, and we'll be sure to check it out!

Coffee Adventures in Montreal

Out of all the cities we have visited in Canada so far, Montreal is probably one of our favourites. Effortlessly cool and confident, the city has a vibrant soul and an eclectic mix of people, culture, art, design and ideas.

Known for it's food and nightlife, we knew Montreal would have a great coffee scene. So we were excited to see what it had to offer. 
We spent just over a week in the city, mainly in the downtown area; and in that time managed to taste some great food, find some awesome bars and, of course, drink some amazing coffee. 

Here's what we found on our Coffee Adventures in Montreal...


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1. Tommy

Old Montreal

On our first day of exploring the city, we decided to head to the area of Old Montreal to peruse old buildings, cobbled streets, statues and the famous Notre-Dame Basilica. 
We also had a Café in mind that was conveniently situated a block from the Basilica, so we headed through the cold, snowy morning to find Tommy

The café was in an old, corner building with heavy wooden doors. Once we stepped inside, it was warm and bright, with lots of hanging greenery. The interior had been transformed into a light-filled, modern space, while still using some of the older, elegant fittings. 

It was busy, but the service was efficient and pleasant. We ordered a Latte, a Macchiato, and a French sweet treat; a Brioche à tête. After some brief shuffling, and subtle eyeing up of who looked like they were finishing up, we managed to nab some seats with a view of the barista at work. 

Overall, it was a little cramped, but the experience was a good one. The coffee tasted good and the milk had a nice texture. The brioche was really good; light, fluffy and just the right amount of sweetness. 

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2. Café 1880

Latin Quarter

On our second day of exploring the city, the snow had gone, and in it's place was a blue, sunny sky. Perfect Spring weather for walking and exploring a city. 

Café 1880 was another coffee shop that we just happened to walk by, not far from where we were staying. 
It had the standard minimalist decor of many coffee shops, but a nice colour scheme that included black, pale wood and teal. 
A small space, but smartly fitted out and we happened to catch it at a quiet time, so ordering and finding a seat took no time at all. 

They had a good selection of baked goods and treats, so we decided to try an Almond Croissant, along with our coffees; a Latte and a Flat white.

The croissant was delicious - but then again, we were in French Canada, it was hard to find a pastry that wasn't.
The milk of the coffees had a beautiful velvety texture, though the strength of the espresso was a little on the weak side for us. Next time we would check the espresso to milk ratio before ordering. 

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3. Café Nocturne

Plateau Mont-Royal

By now, the cold spell seemed to have left Montreal, and in contrast, the days were sunny and warm. We wanted to make the most of the sunshine and fresh air, so we walked towards Mont-Royal, the well-visited attraction where the city gets it's name from. We were in for a short, slightly steep climb to the top of the Mount, to see amazing views of the whole city. 

Along the way, we had a Café in mind that we wanted to visit, but once we got there, we found that it was closed on Sundays. So we carried on, in the hope that we would find something else.

When we first came across Café Nocturne, we were a little apprehensive. The branding and decor of the shop front was very minimal, so much so that we weren't even sure it was a café until we got closer. Then we thought it might be a little too "pretentious hipster" for us. 

However, we were intensely feeling the need for coffee, so decided to give it a try. 

Once we entered the café, we were pleasantly surprised. The inside, although small, was light, bright and kind of cosy. There was a steady stream of customers, and no spare seats, but we were taking our coffees to go, so we didn't mind. Just one barista was working the till and coffee machine, but she was friendly and doing a good job. She managed to serve customers, grab food and make coffees pretty quickly.

We got a Latte, a Cappuccino and a chocolate chip cookie to share. 

The coffee was really good! Probably one of the best coffees we've had, not just in Montreal, but in Canada. And the cookie was delicious too.

We were feeling pretty happy after discovering this hidden gem, and now felt ready for the hike up to the top of Mont-Royal.

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4. Café Chat L'Heureux

 

Happy Cat Café

The next place we visited, was a little bit different to the cafés we usually frequent, but it was a very comforting experience.  

If you've never visited a Cat Café before, it's definitely an experience worth considering. The idea originally started in Taiwan and became popular in Japan. Now you can find Cat (and other animal) cafés in many different countries around the world. These cafés aren't really about the coffee and food experience, though many of them do have menus and offer a selection of things to eat and drink. The purpose is generally more about providing a place for people to relax and spend time with animals, as a way to relieve stress.
All of the cat cafés we have visited, have adopted and/or rescued cats and have a strict number allowed in residence at one time. 
There are also rules in place for the customers to follow, in order to be respectful of the animals' space. 

On each table, alongside the menu, their were bio's of each cat, and a guideline on whether they did, or didn't like to be touched. 

There was a minimum order/entry fee, so we ordered a Ca-purr-ccino and Iced Tea, to sip at while watching the kitty cats. As said earlier, you don't really come to this kind of place for the coffee; the ice tea was refreshing, but a little too sweet and the cappuccino seemed to have been made by a capsule-like automatic machine and was boiling hot.  But it was a small price to pay in order to spend some time with these furry little friends. 

We had a great time visiting Café Chat L'Heureux, and enjoyed just relaxing and watching the cats go about their day. There's something ultimately calming and comforting about hanging out with the cats, and we definitely left feeling a lot happier than when we went in.

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5. Café Nocturne

Take Two!

We liked Café Nocturne so much, that when we happened to be back in the neighbourhood, we took the chance to go back for a second taste. 

This time we decided to sit in and enjoy our coffee, so we found a sunny spot on a big table in the middle of the café. 
We ordered lattes, and noticed they offered Oat milk as an alternative, so we tried it with one of the drinks. 

The Oat milk was a great tasting milk alternative. It didn't affect the overall taste, nor the texture of the drink too much. Of all the milk alternatives we've tried, this is probably the nicest.
Second time around, the staff weren't quite as friendly as the barista we had the first time, but they drinks were still very good. 

 
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6. Café Saint-Henri

Latin Quarter

After visiting and really enjoying our experience at the Quebec City branch of this café, we were keen to try the Latin Quarter version in Montreal. 

We were not disappointed. Saint-Henri Montreal made us some fantastic coffees, just like the one we visited in Quebec city. The staff weren't overly friendly in this branch, but they got the job done. 

We ordered Lattes, and they also had Oat milk as an alternative, so we tried it again. The barista managed to pull off some pretty latte art, even with an alternative milk. The taste and quality of the coffee was excellent. 

Along with the drinks, we shared a piece of Cinnamon bun loaf, which was a delicious sweet treat to compliment the drinks.

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We really enjoyed our time in Montreal, and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Canada. While Vancouver and the West coast might be "beautiful", Montreal has a certain unique and eccentric vibe that comes from combining the food, arts, music, personalities and culture of the people that inhabit it. 

In our short time there, we managed to get a taste of what the city had to offer, but we know it was probably only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Montreal's Coffee scene.

We hope to go back one day, and if so, delve a little deeper, and travel a little further in search of a good cup of coffee. 

What to expect when you visit Vancouver

As one of the biggest cities in Canada, Vancouver is the hub of the West Coast.
The locals are proud, and generally support the idea that "West is Best".

Before we came to Canada, we didn't know a whole lot about it, so we did some research.
Vancouver sounded like a good option to start with, for our time in Canada; warmer, greener, plenty to do and a West Coast "hipster" vibe (meaning a higher possibility of good coffee).
It didn't seem as big and spread out as Toronto, and we didn't need to be learn French, like Quebec.
So, we decided to try it...

We arrived in Vancouver on a chilly, grey and miserable day. We were tired, jet-lagged and on the other side of the world from everything we knew. In all honesty, we were a little shocked, and disappointed. This city wasn't quite the magical, forested wonderland it had appeared to be on the internet.

Yet, just over a year later, we are still here in the West. Not in Vancouver itself, but in a small town not far from it. Although we've escaped the city life, we're close enough that we can venture back into the city pretty regularly and explore it more. With time, Vancouver has grown on us and we have really enjoyed getting to know it a little better.  

So, as an outsider coming to Vancouver, what should you expect? Here's an honest list of the points that stood out to us; some good, some not so good. Come and experience the "best of the west", while also being prepared for what to expect.


1. Vancouver is not that cold

B.C has the mildest year-round climate of all the Canadian Provinces; it even has a coastal rainforest region.

During Summer, you will experience plenty of blue skied, sunny and warm days. Temperatures usually sit around the early to mid 20's (celsius), but some days can get up into the late 20's - it can get pretty hot! So, make sure you use sunscreen if you're visiting during the hotter months. The heat feels more dry than humid, and unfortunately B.C can experience forest fires.
A lot of locals will warn you about the rain, and it's true: it rains a fair bit in Vancouver and the surrounding areas. But, the rain is rarely heavy or stormy, it just has a tendency to settle in for a few dreary days/weeks at a time. The season usually covers May/June - September.

Vancouver does get some snow in winter, however, it gets off lightly compared to the rest of Canada. Temperatures rarely drop below 0, but be prepared for a damp cold. Again, the grey, rainy and misty days can settle in for long periods, leaving you wondering what the sun looks or feels like, but it's all pretty manageable and doesn't affect day-to-day life too badly.
If you're planning to drive in Winter, keep in mind that you will need to prepare for Winter driving conditions, including the use of seasonal tyres. The season usually covers October/November - March.  

Occasionally, some particularly snowy weather may restrict you going very far for a day or so in Winter, but the roads are maintained pretty well with plows and salt.
If there are forest fires in Summer, just be aware there may me some smokiness and lowered air quality also. 

Overall, come prepared with layers and waterproof clothing and shoes; but you don't need to go overboard; you're in the Pacific North West, not the Arctic Circle!

 


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2. West-coasters LOVE the outdoors

This probably stands for most Canadians really. The winters are long, and miserable; so when summer comes, there's a definite feeling that Canadians are packing as much into the season as they can.
Hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking, running, swimming, walking, campfires, 'patio season'......... If it's outside, they'll do it. 
It will probably rub off on you too, so don't be afraid to take advantage and head outside if you're interested.
Talk to the locals; they are passionate about their beloved outdoor activities and love to share experiences and help newcomers out with tips and tricks, places to go and what to do. 
Just watch out for the wildlife (they WILL bite)!

Another point to note in regards to the Canadian outdoorsy lifestyle, is the fashion sense. You'll see A LOT of locals dress in perpetual "sports casual". Some will find any occasional for their Lulu Lemon yoga pants (we once stood behind a women doing a yoga pose while waiting in line at the bank!). Vancouver itself is a metropolitan city, so you can comfortably get away with any style or fashion, but if you head a bit further out of down (e.g. heading north to Squamish or Whistler), even a swipe of lipgloss may make you feel a little overdressed.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a point of note that you can feel free to embrace the relaxed, casual dress sense of the West Coast. 


3. Homelessness and drugs

This is North America, so any big city is going to have a homeless community. Vancouver is no exception to this, and it is also partly encouraged by the warmer climate (it's a lot colder to sleep on the streets elsewhere in Canada).

The homeless people can be found in many places of the city, but they tend to be concentrated to Central Downtown, Gastown, Chinatown and the Lower east side. The infamous East Hastings street is known for drug-use and homelessness, but you will most likely never have a reason to go there.

Some will sit quietly with a sign asking for spare change/food/cigarettes, some will ask you as you walk by, and some you will just see sleeping in doorways or on the side of the path. 
Don't be too alarmed though, for the most part they are fairly docile; if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. They are often quite polite too, so if you say "no sorry", or if you do share some spare change or food with them, they will likely thank you and wish you a good day.
Occasionally you will see someone a bit strung out, or flipping out and acting aggressively/unpredictably; just keep away and seek help if need be.

Generally, when you are walking around the main areas of Vancouver, you will feel pretty safe. However, you still need to be careful. If you're heading along East Hastings street, avoid venturing too much further than Chinatown, and be careful walking anywhere alone and/or at night. 
Practice safety as you would any where you travel to - keep handbags/packs close, don't flash around large amounts of money, and be wary of your surroundings. You never know how some people will react, especially if they are under the influence of drugs/alcohol, experiencing hard times, or just desperate for something (food, money, cigarettes, substances). 

Another point to note is the Marijuana. Like a few states/provinces in U.S & Canada, Cannabis is legal(sort-of). You will see, and smell, some people around town smoking marijuana, so just be prepared for this. 


4. It can be a little dirty

For some reason, we were partly expecting Canada to be this pristine place of mountains and forests, with a constant smell of fresh pine in the air. 
In reality, there are many places like that in Canada, but Vancouver is not one of them.
Some days and in some areas (particularly Downtown), it smells of piss and old cigarette butts. There's gum baked into the side walks and the odd patch of dried blood on the concrete. One time we caught the Skytrain and someone had peed at one end of it, and as the train sped around the city, the pee had gone everywhere dried as a sticky, stinking mess on the ground. You might see some excrement on the side of the road, and wonder 'animal, or human'"
You might see a used syringe on the edge of the side walk, or get hit in the face with a cloud of Marijuana smoke as you walk down the street.

So just be prepared for the dirty 'city' parts, but don't let it completely ruin your dreams of Canada. If you get the chance to explore Vancouver more, there are also nice, clean parts of the city to be found. And if you travel more around the country, you can see some truly beautiful places that haven't yet been tainted by humans. 


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5. Eco-friendly locals

Even though it can be a little dirty, the city is also quite eco-friendly. Many food places and cafes will have compostable/eco-friendly take away containers, and will sort their garbage, compostable and recyclables. It is encouraged for people to have their own reusable water bottles and coffee cups, and many shops will ask if you need a bag before giving you one. Some places have also gone 'straw free'.

Locals are pretty proud about it, and just like their exercise and eating habits, they WILL let you know about their eco-friendliness. Occasionally you will come across some people who take it quite seriously and can be a little annoying about it. However, for the most part, many people just care about the environment and don't want to make unnecessary waste, and this is a pretty good thing. 


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6. B.C = Bring Cash!

Most of the main cities in Canada aren't cheap places to live or visit, but Vancouver is definitely known as being the most costly. The whole province of B.C has notoriously been nick-named "Bring Cash"; living costs are expensive, taxes are high, and attractions and travel costs aren't cheap.

If you're on a working holiday visa, and wanting to experience life in Canada while also travelling around a bit, it can be a bit of a hard slog. Although we have managed to travel around a bit in our time so far, we have found it pretty hard going to cover the costs of living, while also experiencing and saving for traveling. We underestimated just how large the continent of North America is, and how much time and money it takes to see different parts of it.  

It's not impossible to afford being here, just try to be realistic and accept that you are not going to be able to see it all. You may also have to sacrifice certain comforts that you used to indulge in, in order to have more money for travel and experiencing. It's definitely a good learning curve in budgeting and prioritizing. 

If you're wanting to visit B.C for a holiday, you might just find that everything costs a little more and your spending money doesn't stretch as far. But this is all depending on where you're visiting from, and where else you have travelled in the world to compare it to. Look out for price tags, as the prices are often displayed before tax. Also, for food, drink and some other services (e.g. taxi, hairdressers), a tip of between 10-20% is expected. 

 


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7. Wildlife

Don't feed the bears!

In the inner city of Vancouver itself, it is fairly uncommon to see any wildlife, apart from squirrels and crows. But the further out of the city you get, the more likely you are to come across something a little bigger.

The most common places you are likely to run into any large animals, is if you take a road trip out of the city, or if you are heading out for some hiking/biking etc.   
And even then, you are still not that likely to see anything unless you are venturing out at night, early in the morning, or in quiet, less travelled places. 
If you are thinking of hitting the highway, have a read through this and if you are thinking of heading into the great outdoors for some recreational activities, check out this website.

Remember they are wild animals, and they actually don't want to run into you! Be careful, be respectful, and be aware - the more aware you are, the less likely yourself, or the animal, will come to harm. 


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8. Hollywood North

Vancouver is known as "Hollywood of the North", because a lot of movies and TV shows are filmed in and near the city. As you walk around and explore, you might see familiar sights or places. Or, after having visited Vancouver, you may watch something and notice somewhere you've seen while you were there.  

Certain areas in the city may occasionally be closed off for filming (e.g. parking lots, buildings, streets), but they usually don't take up too much space and there will be notices up in the days before to warn you of any upcoming closures.
Be careful and maintain a respectful distance if you come across a set. They sometimes don't mind a few quiet, curious onlookers, but there will be security guards to keep people out of the way if they get too close.
Filming days can often be long and tiresome, so don't make it more difficult for those trying to work, just because you are being nosy or want a picture.

Also, some famous faces reside in Vancouver during filming, or even permanently, so you may see some of them out and about as you explore the city.
Again, try not to bother them too much, they are just trying to go about their life.

If you're a film and TV buff, it can be exciting and fun to see the setting of some of your favourite shows or movies. Here's a list of what's been filmed in Vancouver before, and here's a website that keeps you updated on the current filming activities. 

 


All in all, Vancouver is definitely worth a visit - whether you are planning a short trip, or a longer stay. 
It also seems like the kind of city that if you live there, or spend more time there, you would find plenty of hidden gems.

If you're there for a short stay, do some research before you go and work out the areas and attractions you really want to see. If you've got a little more time, be sure to head out of the city for a day trip or short trip (e.g. Vancouver Island, Okanagan, Seattle).

Also, don't necessarily believe the 'West is Best' mantra. Yes, the West Coast is a beautiful part of Canada, but there are also plenty of other beautiful and great places to visit in the country. 

Coffee Adventures in Victoria

Mid-winter, we caught the ferry over to Vancouver Island for a quick get-away. Although brief, we really enjoyed our time over there, particularly in B.C's capital: Victoria.
It's an elegant, charming city with an amazing food, drink and coffee scene. 

Staying mostly in the central downtown area, we found enough there to keep us occupied, and still leave us wishing we had a few more days. 

We found some great coffee while in Victoria, so if you're thinking of heading over there and want to visit some good spots, read on...


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1. Hey Happy

Market St, Downtown

We enjoyed this quaint coffee bar so much, we went back for a second time. In central downtown, it was easy to find and get to. It seems like a place that would attract local regulars who appreciate good coffee.
It caught a lovely amount of morning sun, and had a nice window-seat at the front, so we could taste, drink and enjoy the view.  

They had a small but varied selection of delicious pastries, with some unique flavours included.
The coffee was very good! 


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2. Discovery Coffee

Blanchard St

We arrived at this next place at the right time; it had started to snow. Having found it on-line, we were interested to taste what Discovery Coffee had to offer.
They had a few locations, so it was easy enough to find one near-by.

Inside, the space was very open, clean and minimal. It was well-suited as it was quite busy, but we managed to find a seat. They had a small cabinet for baked goods, but as it was later in the day, they had already run out. This was fine for us, as we weren't looking for food; just keep it in mind and get there earlier in the day if you want to try some of their snacks.
The Cappuccinos we tried had a very good taste and texture.
They seemed to really specialise in coffee, and also offered beans and equipment for at-home use. 

Overall, this spot wasn't an overly "cosy" place; but definitely somewhere to go for a solid, well-prepared coffee. 

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3. Habit Coffee

Chinatown

Habit coffee was comfortable and relaxing. This felt like the kind of place where you could catch up with a friend, or chill out by yourself.
It was in a restored, old-brick building, and had a rustic, open feel. Like Hey Happy, it managed to catch some glorious morning sun.
As well as great coffee, they had a nice selection of baked goods to try.
One thing that stood out, was their range of magazines to flick through while enjoying a cup of your favourite something.

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Our time in Victoria was brief, but enjoyable. There were still many places we wished we had time to check out. We'd love to head over there again, so if you know of any more great coffee spots we should try, let us know!

Coffee Adventures in Halifax, Nova Scotia

We booked overnight flights, so as to save money on accommodation. We had read about that "tip" on a travel blog, aimed at travellers like ourselves; young(ish), low on funds, high on travel aspirations. It seemed like a good idea at the time...yet we soon remembered, an hour or so into the flight, that our brains have a slight, no, moderate aversion to sleeping in a plane, car, train, basically anything other than a bed really. 

But it was a means to an end, and it got us where we needed to go: Eastern Canada.
We were really excited to see the complete opposite side of Canada. And especially to explore the Coffee scene outside of B.C.

Flying out of Vancouver, Monday night

Flying out of Vancouver, Monday night

Flying over Eastern canada, Tuesday Morning

Flying over Eastern canada, Tuesday Morning

So, we managed to lightly doze our way through the 6+ hour flight from Vancouver to Halifax (with a brief stop in Montreal). Needless to say, we emerged into the chilly eastern air, tired, groggy and a little worse for wear. 

After collecting our bags and picking up the rental car, we already knew what the next, and vital step was: Finding a good cup of coffee.

From the Airport, it was a short drive into the city, including a bit of scrambling to find a spare coin for the toll bridge (a "loonie"/$1 coin will do!). We parked, did some quick research on our phones, and decided which coffee destination we would start our Eastern explorations with. 

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1. The Old Apothecary

Bakery and Cafe

From the parking lot down by the waterfront, to The Old Apothecary, there was a KIND OF BIG hill. That, paired with the fresh and biting wind of the Atlantic Ocean, sure woke us, and our appetite, up. Once we found the cafe, we were immediately charmed by the exterior. It had a boutique style, elegant, yet simple.

We stepped inside and found colourful furniture, rustic brick walls, quirky decor and a nice looking selection of desserts and baked goods.

Lemon meringue tart seemed a good choice for breakfast at the time (blame the sleep deprivation), and we paired this with a Latte + Double Macchiato. 

Our experience:

Food - the Lemon Meringue tart looked really good, and the taste was really nice. The meringue was well done, not over- or under-cooked. 

Coffee - the Taste of the coffee was okay, but the milk texture wasn’t great. The Latte came out more like a Cappuccino. However, the milk wasn’t burnt and the overall flavour still held well. The Barista probably just needed to hone their milk texturing technique. 

Would we visit again?
We would go back there to try more of their baked goods.

Lemon meringue tart for breakfast, solid choice

Lemon meringue tart for breakfast, solid choice

sweet selection at the Apothecary cafe and bakery

sweet selection at the Apothecary cafe and bakery


The next day, we had a busy day of driving planned to explore the East coast of Nova Scotia. We needed coffee and a snack to start the day before heading out, and were happy to find that one of our pre-researched coffee spots was right down the road from the Hotel we were staying.

 

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2. Dilly Dally 

Coffee Cafe

A small, cozy place; light and bright and busy, but didn't feel cramped. They had lots of good cafe-style food to choose from, including cabinet and menu items.

We went for the Veggie Bagel + Coconut coffee Muffin + Latte + Flat white.

Everything came on mismatched, antique crockery, which looked cool. The staff were hipsters, but seemed friendly enough.

Our experience: 

Food - Muffin had unique flavour and tasted pretty good, though it was a tad dry. The bagel was really good, and they cut it in half for us without us even asking, which was nice service.

Coffees - Very good taste and they had pretty good-looking latte art.

Would we go back? Yes, and we would be interested to try more of their food/menu too.

 
dilly dally eats

dilly dally eats

 

Our third, and last day in Halifax. We had read about our next spot and were keen to check it out before heading to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

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3. Grafton Cafe

 

by Scanway


Scanway bakery’s specialty is their baked goods, and when you first walk into this cafe, that is apparent. They had a big selection of breads, baked goods, and a cabinet with some great looking doughnuts.

It was one of those moments when you just accept your fate and eat pastries, because, well, why the heck not...we got a pain au chocolate + white chocolate blueberry doughnut + Latte + Double Macchiato.

Our experience:

Food - the pastries, as expected, were really good. It was a little bit of a sweetness overload, but that was due to our choice of goods.  

Coffees - Unfortunately, I would say their specialty lies in their baked goods, and baked goods alone. We may have just got an inexperienced barista that day, she did seem kind of young. The milk was piping hot (burnt) and the taste of the espresso was bitter and ashy.

Would we go again?
We would probably return for the food; it would be a good place to go grab some baked treats to share with friends, family or workmates. 

 
Grafton cafe

Grafton cafe

 

Wandering around the Maritime Museum for a few hours, and our time in Halifax was drawing to a close.
We had a longish drive ahead of us to our next destination, and wanted a little fuel to keep the fire going, our next stop had been on our radar, so we mapped our route out of the city and made sure to pass it on our way out.

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4. Two if by Sea

Cafe

When we pulled up to park outside Two if by Sea, we were a little apprehensive upon seeing the brick facade and old fashioned awning. We wondered if it might be a little dated, with not-so-good coffee. 
But, as they might just say, "Don't judge a cafe by it's facade". Once we stepped inside, the interior was much more new and modern. It was light, open and fairly busy.

We were looking for lunch, and at first were a little disappointed by the small selection of baked goods on offer. But then we noticed a winding staircase leading to a second level, and were happy to find some food options up there too (more on that here).
Once we had lunch, we headed back down the spiral staircase to grab some drinks to go. We also checked out the merchandise. There was a good selection of general merch and also coffee to purchase, and we bought a t-shirt.

Staff were a little spacey, or awkward, or shy? We couldn’t really tell which, but they were nice enough. We ordered coffees (Latte + Double Macchiato), and picked up a cookie for later, as they looked too good to miss.

Our experience:

Coffee - Great texture of milk and the overall flavour of the coffee was very good. My 12oz Latte tasted a little weak, so next time I would check the espresso to milk ratio when ordering, and possibly go down a size, or add another espresso shot to get more strength in flavour.

Food - the cookie we had later on, and it was really good! It was oatmeal chocolate chip, with a blend of spices, so it had a great flavour. Texture was good too; firm on the outside, soft on the inside.

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Our time in Halifax was short, but sweet. It's a small city, a little bit quirky, and with lots of character.
We would definitely like to go back, should the chance arise, and could see it being a cool place to live.

In our adventure to find good coffee, we managed to go to 4 of the coffee places that we wanted to visit, and out of those we had some pretty good coffee.

We have no doubt there are a probably a few more good coffee spots hiding away though. Or if not yet, in the near future the city will see growth in the coffee and food scene.  

Have you experienced good coffee in Halifax? Or in other parts of Nova Scotia?

Let us know! We're curious to hear more...


Food and Drink Adventures in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia lies on the East Coast of Canada, and makes up what is known as the "Maritimes", also including New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. It's main city, Halifax, has a long and vibrant history, resulting in a varied selection of good food and good drink options to be found. The Maritimes are probably most well-known for the seafood, however we found there to be so much more on offer than just seafood. 

We had just over 2 days in Halifax, so were time limited. However, we still managed to squeeze in a taste of the local flavours. 


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1. Chain Yard

Urban Cidery

We found Chain Yard Cidery after a quick Google search of places to eat within walking distance from where we were staying. It peaked our interest on-line, and in person, it did not disappoint.

The decor is urban, rustic, and chilled out. Dimmed lights and a glowing red neon sign gave the place a night time glow well-paired with good food and alcohol. We were seated and served extremely well by the waiter; the service was excellent. 

Our experience:

Food - We chose a few small plates to share and it was all REALLY good. The kitchen was pretty small, so it was impressive with how quickly the food came out and at a high quality. 
The dessert was amazing!

The plates we chose were: Scallop Arancini + Southern Fried Chicken + Apple cinnamon crumble with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

Drinks - We chose 2 flights: one had four Chain Yard ciders, and the other had four local "guest" ciders. The presentation was unique, and the names were written under each small glass, which was great, because we knew what we were drinking and didn't have to try memorise what the server told us. There was a good variety of flavours in each flight, and it was customisable, so you could choose the ciders that interested you to try. 

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2. Good Robot

Brewing Company

We had researched this brewery back in B.C before embarking on our trip, and it was on our list of places to try while in Halifax. It also happened to be not far from where we were staying (I guess everything was..? Halifax isn't huge).

They specialise in beverages, but they have paired up with local food places who will come and cook in the corner of the bar to offer things to eat as well. We just had beer this time, but the food and menu looked good.
As it was Winter, inside was humming, but we managed to find seating. We can imagine some evenings getting pretty busy, but in warmer months, they have a great outdoor area, which would spread people out a bit. 

They also had a shop on-site where you could buy Drinks and Merchandise to take home.

The decor was cool, and we're always interested to see different and unique ways to display flights; here they came in a muffin tray which was pretty inventive and deserved a mention. 

What we tried:

"All you can Eat" Coconut IPA - we really liked it, and it wasn't all just talk; it actually had a coconut flavour. Delicious.

Flight of 4: El Espinazo del Diablo, We're not Bitter, Dave and Morley 4.0, But Wait there's More
As with Chainyard, you can mix and match your flight, and there's lots of interesting options to choose from. The four we chose were all very good, but our favourites had to be these two:

El Espinazo del Diablo - with Lime and Jalapeno; some zest and heat. Like the coconut IPA, it really did taste like it said it might and the flavours were well-balanced. Recommendation: try this last if in a flight, as the warmth from the Jalapeno can linger and affect your taste of the others!

Dave and Morley 4.0 - this was a coffee brown, and of course we will try almost anything with coffee in it. The taste was deep and dark, and the rich coffee flavour came through well. It was almost like drinking a cold brew. 
 

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3. Studio East

Food + Drink

After trying out the some local beer at Good Robot, we wandered to our next spot. We were ready for some food, and possibly a few more beverages, as it was Wednesday Tiki Night at Studio East. 

The place was cosy, and decorated accordingly. We were seated quickly, and right next to the Tiki bar, which allowed us a Front row seat to watch the bar tender at work.  

We ordered some unique cocktails, and after perusing the menu, chose some food to share.
The staff were charismatic and friendly. The kitchen and bar wasn't huge, but they really worked their space and it seemed to be running like a well-oiled machine. 

What we tried:

Drinks - For Tiki Wednesday, the bartenders create 3 feature cocktails. The 2 we chose were the "Cinnamon Girl" and the "Sleeping Giant". Now, we don't have a good recollection of what exactly was in them, but we do remember that they tasted amazing! They were fresh, full-of-flavour and the display and garnishes were excellent. 

Food - Calamari Pakora + Dumpwing + Ricebowl with Pork Belly. The food was excellent. Particularly the Ricebowl, which had extremely tender pork belly, and some amazing house-made kimchi.    

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YeahYeahs

Pizza

On our way out of Halifax, we stopped in Dartmouth to check out a coffee shop (more about that here). While there, we stumbled across our last foodie stop before heading to our next destination.

Yeahyeahs offers New York style Pizza sold by the slice, and by the pie. A few choices of flavour kept it nice and simple. The decor was also simple, but stylish. 

What we tried:

A slice of cheese and mushroom + a slice of pepperoni. 

Both flavours tasted really good, and there was a good ratio of toppings, cheese and base. They weren't too greasy, and we liked that the flavours were kept simple, but they still had ample flavour and taste.

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Overall, we enjoyed getting a brief taste of Nova Scotia. As we travelled in Winter, there were a few places and areas closed for the season, so although it was good to go when there weren't too many tourists around and the hotel prices were a little lower, it would be good to go back to sample more in the warmer seasons. 

As for seafood, we didn't end up having a lot of it in Nova Scotia, but later on in our Maritime travels we did eventually get to taste some. You can read more about that soon. 

Any other local food places in Nova Scotia that you think are worth a visit? Let us know