There is something about the idea of cafes and during the cold months that just works. Walking along a snow frosted street towards your favourite cafe, with the wind turning your cheeks rosy, to finally walk into that familiar smell of coffee beans grinding. Now THAT is romantic. We could probably be married to a coffee shop, but we have standards, and so do you. To make this idealistic picture really work we know that you can’t just walk into any old coffee shop.
You need the cafe that makes you want to grab a blow up mattress and stay there forever, one that’s calming scent you wish you could make into a candle and keep forever. And if you’re relating to this, we know you’re at the level where you’ve probably covered almost all cafes around your humble abode. You want to find more places to cozy up in for hours, to indulge in some decadent sweets and eats, and take in the atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in a real-life Pinterest board.
So for all you coffee lovers, ambiance hunters, and road trip lovers alike, here is the best of the best. We’re gonna say these may even trump that cute cat video you saw last night. These places are ones worth the drive, and with the cold settling in, there is no such thing as too many cups of warm cocoa.
1. Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters // Kitchener
If you want a cafe that not only provides a cool atmosphere but passionate staff that adore their craft, come here. Their logo explains the ethos of this cute Kitchener gem perfectly- the dove represents the delicate, while the tiger represents the powerful nature of coffee. We weren’t kidding, these people are serious about coffee. They even offer “tiger training” at their roasting facility, or can send someone to your cafe to train you! But back to the cafe, it is described by customers as a friendly, hip, trendy place filled with tons of natural lighting for you to soak up for hours. Who knew you could be so relaxed in an old industrial building? Whether you’re there for the espresso, the ambiance or the delicious snacks, you’ll be glad you went.
Highlights: The amount of work that goes into every cup, these guys know exactly what they’re doing when it comes coffee.
2. Red Brick Cafe // Guelph
The Red Brick is hands down one of the best spots in Guelph to grab a coffee, craft beer, or listen to some amazing live music. This artistic, loft style cafe is located right in the middle of Guelph in a heritage building and has been described as a gem by pretty much everyone who’s visited. Local art pieces are displayed throughout the cafe for you to take in while your barista makes your handcrafted latte and serve you up your delicious treats, breakfast, lunch, or late night snack. More than just a stop for coffee, this is a stop to catch some live performers every Wednesday and during the weekends, and the enjoy it with a drink from their extensive alcohol menu. A must hit for anyone in (or out of) the area!
Highlights: Craft beer and live music!
3. Kuppajo Espresso Bar // Sudbury
Blink and you miss this vibing gem. Located in Sudbury, a lot of people would pass the stone exterior and not even realize the beauty that’s waiting passersby’s inside. This recently opened spot has been an instant favourite in Sudbury. People flock there for their coconut lattes, coloured latte art, and staples such as americanos and mistos, along with their tasty food menu. Step inside here for an escape from the every day as you immerse yourself in on of the friendliest places in the provience. Take in the local art hanging around this funky cafe, take a sip of your finely crafted brew, relax and enjoy the lively yet calming vibes!
Highlights: We are in love with this coffee shop for their kindness. When the shop closes, Jasmine Serre and her family all head to the streets of Sudbury to hand out fresh, free, coffee to those in need. Beyond that, they invite people in to make their own coffee, will give them extra muffins, or even just a friendly face to talk to if they’re having a bad day. Now that’s what humanity is all about.
4. Juniper Cafe // Kingston
Amazing view. Delicious, handmade, local food. Plus staff that will make you feel at home. Love these things? Juniper cafe will give you that and so much more. We adore this Kingston gem perched right on the shore of Lake Ontario. Weave through The Tett Centre and you’ll experience love at first sight with the charming artistic decor. The plants hanging match the natural sight of the lake, while fresh wooden tables match the fresh 70 percent locally sourced food that you’re about to indulge in. Match it with coffee that’s made from beans supplied from farms that Pilot Coffee (their bean provider) has toured personally. Or kick back with a glass of wine or some craft beer and enjoy the view!
Highlights: It truly reflects the vibe of The Tett Centre, it’s an open and accepting to anyone who walks in and you’ll always leave feeling a little more creative.
5. Shabby Motley Handcraft // Sault Ste. Marie
If you thought you already knew where the cutest, coziest cafe in Ontario was, think again. Part cafe, part craft store (THAT’S RIGHT), this is the only place you’ll want to cozy up in this winter. With fair trade, organic teas and coffee from Saint Joseph Island Coffee Roasters and the region’s largest selection of knitting needles and notions just TRY not to fall in love here. Especially considering you really can stay for hours with their seriously delicious and comforting sandwiches, soups, and goodies for your choosing.
Highlights: They have a “pro-loitering” environment meaning they actually want you to stick around and mingle. With weekly knitting, crocheting and spinning groups available to the skilled and, well, not so skilled, anyone is welcome to lounge around for hours and enjoy this gem. Want more? Sign up for one of their classes!
6. Bobbette & Belle // Toronto
They literally could not contain the beauty of this gorgeous cafe, so they now have two locations for cake lovers to rejoice at in Toronto. The two mastermind behind this operation met teaching at a confectionary arts school, both being masters of cake decor and pastry creation overall, it was a match we definitely aren’t complaining happened. The two have created a fresh almost Parisian space for people to go in and leisurely enjoy a fresh scone, decadent cake, delicate macaroon or so many more delicious options. With the walls filled with signature cakes that you can take in from your plush, elegant seating how could you not love it!
7. St. Paul Roastery // Thunder Bay
Originally high school friends selling roasted coffee beans to family and friends, Cam and Stephen are now the owners of St. Paul Roastery- the place that’s putting Thunder Bay’s coffee scene on the map. Cafe and sellers of their quality coffee roasts to top Thunder Bay restaurants, these guys have really proved that hard work pays off. Take your pick in this modern cafe of bold espressos, delicious single origins, and pour over coffees (and delicious treats to accompany, obviously).
Highlights: The small touches make this place truly unique. From the wooden floors and exposed stone walls, vinyl playing from the shared speakers of New Day Records (next door), to the coffee decanters imported from Japan- this is a chic spot in Thunder Bay.
8. Ritual Cafe // London
There are endless ways to describe this gorgeous, warm, cafe but we’ll just stick with one word – refreshing. That’s how you’ll feel after every visit to this lovely simple cafe in downtown London. With lots of natural light, comfy couches, chill music, and plenty of seating strewn throughout the cafe you’ll want cuddle up here for hours the second you walk in. It definitely doesn’t hurt that they have a food menu to sustain you for all that time either. The cafe actually used to be a restaurant but the owner of it always found it too short staffed to operate properly, so a foodie’s haven was born. Enjoy the daily fresh goodies or one of their amazing bagels. Anyone down for a prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil bagel? What about one with swiss, grilled portobello, alfalfa, pesto, and sundried tomato paste? Cream cheese, dill, and avocado toast? That’s right, time to head to this gem!
Highlights: the calming fresh atmosphere and one of our favourite drinks in the province, espresso and steamed milked poured over ice cubes made of brewed coffee.
9. Detour Coffee Roasters // Dundas
This funky coffee shop situated in the cute town of Dundas is a local favourite just waiting for you to enjoy. From the outside it’s reminiscent of something you would see in Gilmore Girls, go inside and you get that chic, urban feel that makes for the perfect combination of hip and comforting. Not only does this cafe have a delicious selection of coffees they source and roast, but also an extensive and tasty brunch menu that goes beyond your basic eggs benny.
Highlights: All their food is made from scratch using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Bonus? Their bread used for sandwiches and toast in made in-house. That means you’re getting the best of the best, which is of course, exactly what you deserve!
10. Coffee Warehouse/Vicky D’Amours Bakery // Timmins
We’ll be honest, when we originally thought of places with fantastic vegan food Timmins wasn’t the one to pop up in our mind, until now! Vicky’s provides absolutely mouthwatering dishes and drink from their cold pressed juice bar, Buddha bar, Pasta bar, Espresso bar, acai bowl bar and hot food selections! Enjoy vegan breakfasts (like chia pudding), vegan (and gluten free) entrees, salads and sandwiches that will make you feel as good as they taste! With Coffee Warehouse, the dream team makes this the ultimate fusion of a bakery, restaurant, cafe, and specialty food store we could not be happier with!
Highlights: Not only is the food amazing here, but the staff are truly exceptional as well. Amazing, sincere customer service is always at the forefront of every review from this spot. A warming environment with unreal meals? Yes and yes!
11. Death Valley’s Little Brother (DVLB) // Waterloo
Espressos to get you going and Whiskies to wind you down, get both at DVLB. When you’re offering whiskey and coffee in one hip place you’ve already got a winner, but that’s not the only reason this has quickly turned into a Waterloo staple. They get their coffee roasted from small batches in Ontario and go through daily temperature control checks on their espresso machines to ensure you’re getting the best roast possible. And now for the single-malt; try a pure malt from Japan to their own Cape Breton option. Or keep it classic with the multiple Scottish options, with a flavor map to guide your way, you’ll feel as majestic as this cafe makes you appear. Don’t forget to grab a delicious baked good to bring your stay to full circle.
Highlights: the rustic, dark decor provides a cool contrast to the airy, spacious aura of the cafe, it is unique and exactly where we’d love to hibernate at for hours.
12. The Socialist Pig // Gananoque
With a fun name and even better hand crafted espresso, this eclectic stop in Gananoque has our caffeine-loving hearts addicted! They thrive in their classic roasts, and also offer homemade lemonade and premium sodas. Obviously, they couldn’t be our favourite if they didn’t offer some kick ass food, and they don’t come up short in that category in the least. All their food is made from scratch and whether you’re here for a decadent scone or burger and stout, you’ll leave fascinated by the quirky decor and satisfied by the amazing meal.
Highlights: Go in for your caffeine kick and stick around at for the legendary art openings, short film nights, ethnic dinners, cocktail classes, live music and more! We love the sense of community that the “Pig” provides to anyone who walks in the door, we really don’t think it’s possible to leave without a smile on your face.
13. FIKA // Toronto
In Swedish, Fika’s a verb that means “to go out for coffee”, use it in Toronto though? People will point you to the eclectic, inviting cafe plopped in Kensington market. This minimalist cafe with unbelievably cute and fresh decor has been pulling people in for years, but it’s what they serve that really keeps people coming back. With coffee from Pilot Coffee Roasters, they craft amazing drinks for you each and every time, from americanos, FIKA hot chocolate (house made chocolate earl grey ganache with steamed milk!!), FIKA cardamom spiced latte (espresso, steamed milk, cardamon bitters, simple syrup and cinnamon), and other classic staples- the hardest time is deciding what to order. They also have gourmet sandwiches to order, including the mortadella sandwich (thin meat between two slices of Splendido’s potato bread), a breakfast and lunch menu, and delicious sweets for you to enjoy.
Highlights: The friendly, warm, staff truly make you feel like you are the most important customer of the day. They craft each drink with care and have been known to fuss over even the smallest detail to ensure you’re getting to best service possible.
14. Rabbit Dash // Port Elgin
The name of this community favourite may be a little misleading, why? Just try and make this visit short enough to consider a “dash”. The second you walk in this intimate and friendly community-based coffee shop you’ll instantly feel at home. They have a huge selection of the staple espresso beverages you know and love, but made with high-quality fair trade organic beans it’ll feel like you’re tasting them for the first time again. Finish it off with a yummy sweet or savory baked good, breakfast, or lunch meal made from their kitchen the “Dashery”. And in the morning? They’re making waffles (hello Salted Caramel waffle!) *read in Donkey voice*.
Highlights: they don’t just talk the talk about being involved in the community, but they walk the walk. They promote other businesses on top of sponsoring community events and fundraisers, as well they aim to support the artistic community by bringing people together for their open mic nights, the “Big Wall” visual show case, and also their display of artistic items available for sale.
15. Arlington Five // Ottawa
Just try and head into Ottawa without heading down Arlington St. after trying out this simple, lovely cafe. From the second you walk in you feel good vibes not only from the cool exposed brick decor but from the friendly staff. They use Happy Goat Coffee, which is ironic considering the good vibes you’ll get from each and every staff here! They have great soups and sandwiches to compliment their delectable coffee that makes this cafe such a winner. Some of the best hand-crafted London fogs and hot chocolates will be waiting for you to savor during a cold winter day, so the real question is when are you gonna head over?
Highlights: This space is inviting and has a ton of space available for every kind of customer. Bring your laptop, a good book or a first date- you’re sure to find a great spot to enjoy your fabulous cup of coffee!
16. The Opera Bakery Cafe // North Bay
This beautiful cafe is just another testament to the fact that things really are better in the (we the)North. When you’re done taking in the beauty of the actual cafe, it’s time to let your taste buds take in a little beauty. They specialize in personalized cakes, but people flock here as well for their hand made food menu. Rotating season products roll out every week along with their staples soups, sandwiches, baked goods, and full hot/cold drink menu!
Highlights: The food is a true reflection of the stunning local shop and art galleries you can browse at before indulging! The food is truly unique, flavorful, and made with care, this is not a stop to miss on your ultimate Ontario cafe road trip.
17. Cafe Organje // Hamilton
Locally roasted, specialty coffee matter to you? How about if that coffee was accompanied by a taste that’ll amaze you, served in a contemporary Dutch-style coffee house? Hit up Cafe Oranje in Hamilton’s International Village. Munch some locally-sourced baked goods, or melt in your mouth sandwiches like their smoked pork, goat’s milk gouda & appelstroop (apple butter) on marble rye one. They also offer gluten free options, vegan choices, and breakfast.
Highlights: We love getting specialty dutch treats (stroopwafel, boterkoek) here that make so we can enjoy a little taste of the world right from the comfort of our favourite place.
18. Stone Crock Bakery // St. Jacobs
Classic family recipes, new delicacies, cakes, pies, bread, OH MY. We’re in love with this nostalgic, simple bakery and cafe. As if St. Jacobs couldn’t get any more appealing, Stone Crock Bakery is swooping in and adding another gem to one of our favourite towns. Right in the St. Jacobs Farmers Market New Building, head here anytime you’re craving some high-quality comfort food. Their all day pancakes, a breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menu will give you the fuel you need to appreciate this stunning town, and that starts with the appreciation of even more exceptional cafes like these! Worth the drive for their legendary pies alone.
Highlights: This bakery really takes us back to what it means to run a quality cafe- simple, high-quality recipes that make outstanding food. Tradition and innovation go into all their recipes, and you’ll definitely be able to tell! A must visit for any foodie.
19. Cardinal Cafe & Shop // Sharbot Lake
If you can manage to pick your jaw up off the ground after you took in the exterior of this stunning resorted Church turned cafe, head into your new favourite coffee shop. The former Church has been restored beautifully, retaining its simple elements to give this coffee shop a calming feel. They offer food from Perth’s Field House Bakery, a yummy gourmet selection of sandwiches (seed-to-sausage ham with provolone and arugula on toasted bakery bread, oui oui), croissants, and a huge array of treats to go with your carefully crafted coffee. Make sure to pick up a decadent locally made chocolate bar from Ludwig while you’re there!!
Highlights: it’s located right on the water for a stunning view of the lake to add to the already regal ambiance!
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