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Where to Get a Coffee Fix in Halifax

Whether you want to read the paper over a light breakfast or stare out at the harbour with an afternoon espresso, Halifax has many excellent options for your daily jolt. Here are four cafés to put at the top of your list.

Two If By Sea Cafe

Discerning java hounds will go out of their way for Zane Kelsall’s coffee, whether it’s at the original Dartmouth shop or the location in the Historic Properties, just a few steps from the Halifax Ferry Terminal. The ebullient barista roasts his own beans – single origin, directly from small farms – via Anchored Coffee, and you would do well to pick up a bag to take home. The coffee is superb, especially the extra-shot Zane Macchiato Special. Everything is baked in-house, but pay special attention to outrageously flakey croissants both sweet (peppered strawberries) and savoury (prosciutto and provolone). If you happen to be in Dartmouth, hang around for the lunch bell so you can hit The Canteen sandwich shop upstairs.

1869 Upper Water St., 902-492-4600;
66 Ochterloney St. (Dartmouth), 902-469-0721

Steve-O-Reno’s Cappuccino

While this pioneering coffee shop has added few farmers’ market kiosks to its stable (and until recently had a drive-thru coffee trailer), it’s the flagship café that is of most interest. Spitting distance from Dalhousie University’s Sexton Campus, the time-worn shop opens most days at 7 a.m., which, at this hour, draws a lot more faculty than students. It’s an eccentric crowd, where bow-tied gents and ponytailed engineering profs talk to each other without reaching for their phones once. You can get a solid $1.39 cup of joe, upgrade to a French press of single origin beans, or indulge in the rich, creamy namesake drink. The breakfast sandwiches – over-easy egg, buttered English muffin – are first rate.

1536 Brunswick St., 902-492-4600;
plus 3 other locations

Le French Fix Pâtisserie

Geoffroy Chevallier’s svelte, two-story patisserie opens a little late for early risers (9 a.m. most days, though shakes-inducing 10 a.m. on Mondays), but it is one of the best places in the city for a true coffee break. Said coffee is excellent, pulled expertly using beans from Pig Iron Coffee Roasters. The pastries are exquisite, made with the finest ingredients and portioned with Gallic restraint. Filled with chocolate pastry cream and glazed with dark ganache, the éclair is a must, as are delicate lemon tarts. The afternoon draws legions of young women for their afternoon java and a macaroon moment. If you happen to be in town on a Wednesday, inquire about Chevallier’s on-site pastry classes.

5233 Prince St., 902-497-5308

Java Blend Coffee Roaster

More than half a century before coffee became cool in North America – since 1938, to be exact – this roaster has been providing Haligonians with their morning cup. Visit the main shop and roastery if you happen to be in the North End, but the tiny stand on the second floor of the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is of more interest to visitors, offering stunning views of the harbour, Georges Island or a leviathan cruise ship, if there happens to be one in dock. While the Seaport kiosk doesn’t sell food, you’ve got many options on the main floor downstairs, from pastries to steamed pork buns.

6027 North St., 902-423-6944
1209 Marginal Rd. (2nd floor), no phone

Published Wednesday, December 2nd 2015

Header image credit: Courtesy, Le French Fix Patisserie



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