Cafes are nothing short of fantastic. People have first dates there, study, read, figure out the meaning of life and the meaning of their significant other's last cryptic tweet (okay but that Coldplay lyric totally matches up with our fight right now?!). If we had to pin down a word to describe the goodness that comes with the comforting smell of espresso, it'd have to be an oasis. This is real talk here, there's a reason coffee shops have been around for so long and a reason you can never seem to find a seat no matter what time of day it is.
And the even more comforting thing? You can always count on a coffee shop for the ideal setting for a much needed catch up (or debrief) with your best friend. (Why do you think Joey and Chandler we're always at Central Perk?) There's nothing more comforting than the thought of you, your BFF, a warm latte, and a cozy cafe together for hours.
Because we're a city that uses coffee as fuel, sometimes we lose the experience of actually taking a moment to enjoy it (how un-mindful of us ugh!). But these coffee shops are so stunning there's almost no way you could step out of them without taking a moment to enjoy. Definitly worth the trip over, these are the must hit cafes in Kingston that are perfect spots to enjoy our prized cup of joe (or americano for all you artistes).
1. The Elm Cafe // 303 Montreal Street
Talk about the most dreamy power couple; owners Logan and Matthew opened this beautifully unique cafe in the inner harbour of Kingston that has been a local gem ever since. The space is as bright as the owners and community themselves, and seems to hit you with an instant jolt of happiness the second you walk in.
Why We Love It: Beyond the fact they have homemade treats, the coffee shop is a space that welcomes all backgrounds to come collaborate and socialize. And that success shows in the works of local artist's work that hang in the cafe to make it even more adorable.
What To Get: Pilot Coffee Roasters is their specialty coffee that they brew in house, a must try for any fan of the popular Toronto brand. Make sure to get some of their freshly made sandwiches or treats (which rotate based on what's available from local suppliers #fre$h). We're getting the Rare roast beef sammie with caramelized onion, Wilton aged cheddar, and horseradish mayo: and obviously finished off with a Chewy skor cookie.
What you never knew you wanted to know: One of the owners, Matthew, actually helped repair and rebuild the Canadian Parliamentary buildings. It was one of the largest heritage restoration projects in North America, that's pretty glorious and free is you ask us.
2. Pan Chancho Bakery // 44 Princess Street
Good luck getting a seat at this cafe/foodie lovers paradise on the weekend, or any day of the week for that matter. This Kingston jewel isn't just known for their unbelievable treats but for their stunning brunch, amazing deli section, and 'I'm gonna act like I've known you for 20 years' type friendly staff (which is amazing). It seems like this could be the set up for an over hyped, commercialized coffee shop, but every time you walk into Pan Chancho you are overwhelmed with the simplicity that only a local cafe like this can bring.
Why We Love It: They have a superb outdoor patio to compliment your brunch, and they serve local, homemade, organic food.
What To Get: We definitly recommend sitting at the cafe for a goodie or an entire gourmet meal! For breakfast, the yogurt and granola tastes like dessert (so exactly what we wanted), or go for the French Toast with Apple Butter Yogurt. For a goodie make sure to take home one (or 2....okay 3....nah let's be real 5) of the Double Chocolate Profiterole.
3. Balzac's Coffee // 251 Princess St.
Usually the quality of charm (and coffee) goes down with the number of shops a business has, but in Balzacs case? They just keep getting better the more shops come up! And thankfully this Toronto favourite has finally opened its 12th cafe in the hub of Kingston. Opening this summer Balzacs is already showing off it's artistic charm and gaining a loyal following. With a huge amount of seating and artisan snacks and brews for your choosing, you'll be here for hours.
Why We Love It: The atmosphere makes you feel like you just found a hole in the wall cafe in the middle of Europe. With vintage decor to compliment the unbelievable coffee you'll truly feel revived once you step out of this cafe. We've yet to find a cafe that has such a refined essence (that's right, that's a chanel no. 5 level essence).
What To Get: If you pass on coffee here please get out (kidding, but why would you do that to yourself?!). Go for a classic latte, the way they roast their beans based off the traditional European hand-crafted coffee roasting artistry method, ie. you know you're getting fanastic sh*t. Definitly grab one of their decadent brownies or delicious scones as well!
What you never knew you wanted to know: The president and founder of Balzacs, Diana Olsen, was inspired by the French playwright Honore de Balzac. His writing was apparently fuelled by coffee consumption, which was said to hit 50 cups a night. That makes wall street look elementary, what's good leo?!
4. The Common Market // 136 Ontario St.
If you're looking to show off your ~alternative~ edge, head off the popular Princess St. over to the charming cafe, The Common Market. After you're done admiring the beauty of the building and actually make it inside, you'll have a variety of prepped food, baked goods, and obviously, coffee to enjoy. They only have a couple tables, but it's worth the gamble for the amazing scones fresh from the oven.
Why We Love It: Anyone and everyone can find something they like here. They have a market section for take home food, lots of baked treats from pecan pie to freshly baked bread, and different panini options. They've also held some great musical events here, like open mic night!
What To Get: Make sure you order a scone from the amazing staff there, if the conversation doesn't put a smile on your face, the pastry definitly will. Looking for a switch up from your grande PSL? Grab a mint hot chocolate, warms the soul.
What you never knew you wanted to know: Local indie band, The Wilderness played there last summer! Gourmet food and good tunes? We're down.
5. The Small Batch Cafe // 282 Princess St.
Coming in hot off the roaster is The Small Batch Cafe, a must hit cafe for anyone looking for a fantastic refresher to their day. Located right in the heart of downtown Kingston, this small cafe gets their beans from Pilot Coffee Roasters in Toronto and also offers a ton of sandwiches, and treats to go with your delicious brew. Make sure you get there early to claim a seat though! This local gem fills up fast, for good reason.
Why We Love It: It's a break from the usual chaos you'd find in a large chain cafe. The fantastic food menu changes daily based on what's in season. And bonus, the huge window at the front gives blankets the entire cafe in natural light that, mixed with the small town charm of small batch, leaves you feeling revived sans caffiene jitters.
What To Get: We can never say no to one of their lattes (we're definitly adding vanilla to it). And obviously because we're Canadian, it's gotta be iced. If you're lucky and the Bosc Pear and Brie is in season, that's also a must. To finish off go for one of their delicious specialty cake slices!
What you never knew you wanted to know: They aren't just called the Small Batch by coincidence. Not only is their food made daily, but they actually make it in (wait for it) small batches throughout the day so you're getting the most fresh meal possible.
6. Juniper Cafe // 370 King St. West
Juniper Cafe is your dream cafe oasis come to life. It's beautiful, intimate space is carved out in the Tett Centre right beside the stunning Isabel Bader Centre. And obviously a cafe that's located in an artist's centre is destined to show off that beauty in anyway possible. Plot twist- they don't only show off the beauty, they're whole cafe IS the beauty. Before we get too absract (art pun!), let me lay it down for you. Head here so you and your squad can savour gourmet sandwhiches and soups, local and organic food, and a kick ass cappichino all while taking in the views of Lake Ontario (in the summer make sure it's from the patio).
Why We Love It: Not only is the food made from scratch by a loving staff, but it's sourced locally. That's support we can definitly get behind and something that makes Kingston so amazing. Even better? We love taking refugee in this cafe during a stormy day and watching the waves crash on Lake Ontario while we're nice and dry eating a freshly baked cookie.
What To Get: Though the menu changes weekly, you can always count on some kick ass sandwiches, soup, and salads that are anything but boring. We're getting the Breakfast Sandwich hat has a poached egg, house made Haanover View Farms bacon, aged cheddar and tomato jam on a buttermilk biscuit. Gimme a second to pick up the mic I just DROPPED.
7. Crave Coffee House & Bakery // 166 Princess St.
Crave is basically the love child of a super hip art deco coffee shop and a food lovers paradise and we couldn't be any happier. The constant student and local crowd speaks for the quality of the food and service at this must hit Kingston spot!
Why We Love It: We've never been so happy having no idea what to order...because everything in Crave looks absolutely delicious. They have a huge variety of options all made from scratch in-house, from salads, vegan wraps, cookies, waffles, cakes, OH MY! The warm and surprisingly intimate atmosphere simply adds to the cool vibe of this place. With a plenty of tables and spaces to work, it's a great stop that's meant to be in the middle of a great city.
What To Get: Though we're tempted to say everything, we'll just give a quick highlight reel and let you taste the rest. For any vegan out there the vegan hummus wrap is anything but boring and will leave your tastebuds beyond satisfied. For sweets, grab some of their decadent cinnamon buns! With flavours ranging from pecan to apple and cream you can't go wrong with any one of these creations!
8. CoffeeCo // 320 King St. East
The beauty of Kingston square must be contagious! Perched right across from the historic Kingston landmark is every New York artists dream that'll soon be your reality - a beautiful exposed brick loft style coffee shop. With free wifi, delicious snacks, and a hip atmosphere, what more motivation could you need to visit this amazing cafe.
Why We Love It: The coffee is fair trade AND roasted in town. If it wasn't local enough it is right across from Kingston Square which makes you feel like you've been transported to a European city far away from any worries you may have.
What To Get: Definitly get the espresso or classic cappuccino to get a true taste of the unreal quality of the beans.
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