Student-friendly Montreal has a strong café and coffee culture | Courtesy of La Finca
Regularly ranked by university authority QS as one of the most student-friendly cities in the world, Montreal is home to several large English- and French-language universities, including McGill, Concordia, UQAM and Université de Montréal, plus a host of other public colleges. Luckily, the city’s strong café and coffee culture means there is no shortage of spots where in-the-know students can sit down, focus and get some quality work done.
Here are the best spots in Montreal to enjoy a cup of coffee with a productive ambiance, tasty drinks and affordable food – as well as some inspiring scenery.
Since opening its doors in 2013, Station W has delivered high-quality coffee in the northern half of Verdun. Increasingly popular thanks to good food and pastries, plus increased footfall on Rue Wellington, Station W proves that an excellent cup of filter coffee is still available for a reasonable price. The café’s grand table is ideal for group studying as it has plentiful lamps and outlets, although laptop use on weekends is confined to one section of the café. The other Station W, located in the Angus Shops at Rosemont‘s southern end, presents similar vibes ideal for getting work done.
An institution on Sherbrooke and set just opposite the leafy Notre Dame de Grâce Park, Café Shaika is well known for its welcoming atmosphere, hearty food and alcohol choices. The terrace also offers nice views of the café’s storied neighborhood. With a reputation for evening musical and spoken-word performances, it also makes for a fine study spot during the day, with well-priced meal deals, extensive seating and rapid access to downtown universities via the major arteries of Rue Sherbrooke’s bus lanes and nearby Vendôme metro station.
Situated in the quieter sector of Verdun south of Rue Galt, Le Baobab is just a five-minute walk from De L’Église metro station and something of an underappreciated gem. With a leafy, bookish interior and calm vibe, customers can take advantage of coffee refill deals and value-packed lunch choices, which offer excellent portions and a focus on vegetarian options. Only really busy at lunchtime, this is a peaceful place for those seeking productive study in the Sud-Ouest.
A much-loved spot situated on Sherbrooke and within a very short stroll of McGill, this Iranian-themed café is a regular haunt for students, and for good reason. Set in a cozy basement, this colorful spot offers an impressive selection of Persian drinks, teas and fresh sandwiches, as well as a remarkable amount of seating, considering the space. Handy for a downtown meet-up with fellow students, the café also offers cakes and sweets with delicate, tasty flavors for a post-exam treat.
Located just a five-minute walk from Place des Arts, this hip downtown spot is an ideal one for students in need of some uninterrupted time in front of a laptop. The café is bright and modern and offers elegant simplicity. Expect plenty of tables and outlets for those who need to get their head down, aided by good coffee, excellent soups and pastries. For study groups, the common area offers substantial room, but you could also book a private room should presentation practice be required.
Located in the heart of the Old Port, this elegant and spacious café is the result of a comprehensive repurposing of the Royal Bank Tower hall. The café offers plenty of stylish, old-world glamour for those looking to study or work. Expect a combination of single desks and conference tables, plus an impressive range of fresh food, sweet treats and solid coffee. Busy students are overlooked by cathedral-style arches and grand windows. Crew offers tiered working options, including general space for casual customers all the way up to co-working spaces and presentation rooms.
A central spot located right on the busy confluence of Sherbrooke and Saint-Laurent, this café delivers one of the finer cups of coffee in the city. A good selection of food items and vegan sweet treats are offered, all in an impressively decorated environment that provides good space and outlet availability for students looking to tackle that long-put-off essay. With several universities within walking distance, Café Origine is a welcoming and roomy spot in a corner of the city where it’s often hard to find space to sit.
This is a colorful neighborhood spot located just off Atwater Avenue, conveniently close to the metro hub at Lionel-Giroux. Lili & Oli offers a bustling atmosphere, with excellent baked goods and dog-friendly surroundings. While there isn’t a lot of space, students who do get a spot will find a convivial, inspiring environment. Those who need a break can easily take a mind-clearing walk through the Atwater Market and down the Lachine Canal, which are just moments away.
A short walk from Beaubien metro, this northern outpost has been keeping Montreal students content with good coffee and fine surrounds for almost five years. This bright Villeray café has specifically set itself apart as a space for work and study, with plentiful rows of tables, a conference room available by the hour, a kid’s corner and even printer services on the premises. The spot is popular throughout the week, especially with students from nearby public and community colleges, thanks in part to a decently priced lunch menu.
Vibrant, artistic vibes and delicious scents greet newly arrived customers at this established café, located on Avenue Lacombe – a stone’s throw from the Côte-des-Neiges metro station. With an extensive menu including plenty of fresh vegetarian options and close proximity to Université de Montréal, it makes for a productive spot for students. Caravane also has a terrace that’s useful for digging into required reading during the warmer months.