1) Java Blend Coffee Roasters (6027 North Street)
Now this list is in no particular order, but no matter which order I put it in this café will always be top spot in my heart. Every time I’ve needed her, JB has been there. When I first braved the downtown landscape from Clayton Park, it was the smell of coffee roasting, drifting through my windows that welcomed me to the bustling metropolis of North End Halifax. Though everything around her may be changing, we’ll hope that this staple holds strong to its beans and keeps the hearth warming.
2) Café Cempoal (2374 Agricola Street)
You can ask Chris for the full moniker of his establishment, but we all call it Cempoal, so you might as well too. This is the place you want to go when you’re on the road and want to get down and dirty with the true Haligonia. You might even brush elbows with some hali-famous rapscallions, wizards, and be-boppers. If you’re lucky, you may even walk away with your own jingle. Go in for the best cookie in town and stay for the people. Time warps here, so be careful- or don’t.
On Facebook @cempoalcafe
3) Trident Booksellers and Café ( 1256 Hollis Street)
If the South End wasn’t such a venture from our humble nook of the north, this café might be a tough contender for the number one spot my cold north end heart. The coffee is great, but add books and we’re hooked- for hours. This café is sacred; the atmosphere is one we don’t find very often in this bumbling world of ours. Treat it like the temple it is, and it will treat you back just as kindly.
On Facebook @tridenthalifax
4) Julien’s Patisserie, Bakery and Café (5517 Young Street)
This café has gone through many changes over the years, but the atmosphere remains the same and it’s lovely. There are few terraces in Halifax as inviting as this one and the European flair makes you feel like you could be anywhere. And if coffee isn’t your fix, these guys are licensed; so feel free to order something a little stronger, like wine with your cheese.
5) Two if by Sea (66 Ochterloney St, Dartmouth)
If you want to feel like you’re in Vancouver while in Halifax, venture to Dartmouth and visit this industrial café/coffee roaster to get your kicks. As happy as we are about people roasting and serving up coffee on the dark side, it’s dreams of their croissants that keep us up at night- not your typical fair, packed with butter and everything else delicious, they are half the size of your head and we highly recommend that you don’t leave town without trying one.
6) Just Us! (5896 Spring Garden Rd)
These guys are more than a café, they are a bit of a beacon for doing business right. Fair trade and unionized, they are trying to do things without a guilty conscience, which means we can do it too and feel good about it. They have a few locations in the city, and if you are visiting the valley, you should definitely check out their fair trade museum. Coffee is good, but if you are visiting these guys, I definitely recommend trying one of their multiple fairly traded hot chocolates, with whipped cream, of course!
7) Drift Coffee- If you can find them, you must. A travelling band of sophisticated coffee brewers, new to the Halifax coffee scene, this café is always on the move, much like the rest of us. Usually, and luckily, you can find them at the Halifax Forum Farmers Market on Saturdays serving up a range of single origin third wave delights.
On Facebook @driftcoffeehfx
8) Steve-o-Reno’s Cappucino (1536 Brunswick St)
Haligonians lost a bit of their hearts the day our colourful drive-through coffee shack disappeared from Robie Street, but we’re trying to drink it back at their Brunswick Street location. But don't make the mistake of thinking these guys are only about coffee, they offer so many delicious snacks, and scrumptious weekend brunch.
9) Pavia Espresso Bar and Cafe (Halifax Central Library)
If they would let me, I would put the Halifax Central Library on top of all of my lists, but here, at least, is a category in which they really do qualify. The roof top café and terrace show you a side of Halifax we were all waiting for. When you sip your cappuccino overlooking the city from this space you can feel the future of Halifax – pair it with a granola cookie and you’ll even taste it.
10) Alteregos (2193 Gottingen St)
This place has been a hub of North End Halifax for 15 years, for new comers, long stayers and everyone else in between. Not only are they ready to serve your finest caffeinated kicks they also provide solace every Friday night for those looking to get their groove on and midday snacks to satisfy that rumble in your tummy.
Nova Scotia Mentions:
No9 – We’re probably not the only ones excited about a space as great as this being open year round in Lunenburg. Spend your entire day here sipping lattes and getting lost in the wallpaper.