Our guide to the best Ottawa coffee roasters will have you buzzing... or maybe that's just the caffeine talking!
I've often said that my most redeeming quality as a travel companion is my ability to track down cappuccino, any time, any place. Remember when I fell in love with this sweet cafe in Botswana or found an elusive one Euro espresso in Venice? When it comes to coffee, I don't mess around! That's why I'm so happy to put together a list of the best Ottawa coffee roasters. After spending so many years talking about coffee around the world, it's time to put my hometown in the spotlight. And perhaps unsurpisingly, I found a lot of travel-based inspiration in Ottawa's coffee community. Great minds think - and sip - alike.
I can't imagine a better way to explore the city than to work your way through the products and services of all these amazing Ottawa coffee roasters and, when possible, visiting their roasting rooms and cafes. I can't wait to hear which of these amazing coffee providers are your own personal favourites.
I Deal Coffee
As unpretentious as they come, I Deal Coffee has a bare-bones coffee house and roastery on the edge of the Byward Market and it specializes in dark roasts. This is where coffee purists congregate and Ryan, in particular, loves it.
Try These Beans: The Red Sea or Princess of Darkness (their darkest roast).
Find them: 176 Dalhousie St or via their website.
Equator Coffee Roasters
One of the big names among Ottawa coffee roasters, Equator is actually headquartered in the nearby community of Almonte (you can read about how much we love this region here). They roast fair trade coffee and are engaged in neat stuff like the Seasonal Artist Coffee Project, which invites local artists to design the packaging for their seasonal blends.
Try These Beans: Freakin' Good Coffee
Find them: In Almonte, Westboro, or downtown in the National Arts Centre orvia their website.
Kafia International Coffee
Possibly the oldest independent roaster in the city, Kafia has been going strong since 1978. The entire operation rests on their inexhaustible 30 Kg Petroncini roaster, plus a row of grinders to provide precision prepared beans.
Try These Beans: Indian Malabar Monsoon
Find them: At 842 Boyd Ave or via their website.
Suzie Sips Coffee
One of the new kids on the proverbial block, this Ottawa coffee roaster launched in August 2020 and I haven't had a chance to try any of their beans yet. You know what that means - you have to go and report back to me!
Try These Beans: Canadian Maple
Find them: Via social media.
Bridgehead Roastery and Coffeehouse
Another heavy hitter in the Ottawa coffee roaster scene, Bridgehead has coffee shops across the city, serving up fairtrade organic coffee, light meals, and snacks. They offer seasonal drink creations and coffee bean blends, a wide variety of dairy alternatives, and my favourite carrot cakes.
Try These Beans: Logdriver Espresso (beloved by my friend Christie, who does not mess around when it comes to coffee).
Find them: At their flagship roastery at 130 Anderson Street or 18 other locations around town orvia their website.
Little Victories Coffee Roasters
This hipster brand is influenced by Melbourne coffee traditions and is the kind of place that distinguishes between a flat white and an Aussie capp. When you pick up your beans, take a minute to appreciate the packaging. Their brown paper bags are printed in nearby Cornwall using a 1950s era printing press.
Try These Beans: Ethiopia Gera
Find Them: At their cafe at 801 Bank St or via their website.
I love a coffee roaster that has a catchy name and Eight50 delivers. Founder Muna honors their Ethiopian roots by referencing the year 850 AD, when a young Ethiopian goat herder discovered the magic which is coffee beans. Great name, great beans.
Try These Beans: Ethiopia Birth Place
Find them: Via their website or sometimes at farmers markets.
The Artery Community Roaster
Specializing in ethically sourced coffee roasted by people living with disabilities, The Artery pays living wages and organizes carbon-neutral deliveries of their single estate, direct trade beans. They're another new kid on the block, launching operations at the end of 2020.
Try These Beans: Stephen Hawkbean Black Hole Roast
Find them: At women-owned businesses like Strawberry Blond Bakery or the Carlington Coffee House and via their website.
Happy Goat Coffee Co
Another big name among the Ottawa coffee roasters, Happy Goat offers eight different cafe locations and a long list of beans (including microlots). They're eco-friendly and community minded.
Try These Beans: Guatemala Huehuetenango (which was voted the best drip coffee in the Ottawa in a 2019 contest).
Find Them: In addition to their retail locations, their beans are available at dozens of locations in and around the city. You can see the full list here.
The Orleans Coffee Company
The Orleans Coffee Company may just be home to the freshest coffee in the city. That's because they don't roast your beans until your order them. They deliver daily to Orleans, Blackburn Hamlet, and Beacon Hill North or you can order in advance and pick up via curbside delivery.
Try These Beans: Bean Me Up!
Find them: Via their website.
North Brew Coffee
North Brew Coffee is a brew you can feel good about. Their motto is "Coffee Driving Change" and they focus on using nothing but fair trade beans and a portion of proceeds go towards local charities. They're also behind the Maple Tea Co, which donates to the Youth Services Bureau.
Try These Beans: Twin Peaks Dark Roast
Find them: Their bottled cold brew is in quite a few local stores or your can order via their website.
Poppa Bean Coffee Roastery
Maybe I shouldn't play favourites when it comes to a topic as serious as coffee beans but Poppa Bean is the local fav in our house. We started getting their beans years ago when they were fairly new and selling from a small table at the Cumberland Farmer's Market (which we love). Their name is an homage to their roots, as they first started roasting coffee with popcorn machines.
Try These Beans: Black Walnut Blend (a bespoke dark roast you'll only find at the Black Walnut Bakery in Cumberland).
Find Them: Whole Foods at 951 Bank St, regional Foodland grocery stories, or via their website.
Good Oswald Coffee Co
You can't help but love a coffee company that not only names their business after their dog but also puts his photo on all the bags. Ozzie is a good boy if you ask us! Coffee geeks will be keen to learn that Good Oswalds use a clean roasting fluid bed roaster which uses convection to deliver heat and the coffee's chaff gets removed during the roast process.
Try These Beans: El Salvador Casa de Zinc Honey
Find them: Evergreen Craft Ales in Kanata or via their website.
Snark Bean Roastery
Technically, Snark is located outside of Ottawa in Arnprior but this list welcomes all! And Snark is too cool not to be included. This woman-led roasting company (whose packaging says "Wake Up Buttercup") works with inspiring coffee farmers, including women in Jinotega, Nicaragua whose profits help them gain legal paperwork for their land, which they can in turn leverage for micro-credit loans.
Try These Beans: Nicaragua (as described above) or Ambrosia Espresso.
Find them: A few local stores or via their website.
Here's a fun fact: I never connected Figaro Coffee (the roasters) with Figaro Coffee (the coffee shop where I meet my friends all the time) until I looked up their website for this post. They're the same place! Hmmmm maybe I'm not drinking enough coffee! In addition to a lengthy coffee menu, they do teas, cold drinks, and small treats.
Try These Beans: Figaro Medium
Find them: Via their website or at their coffee house at 650 Industrial Ave. While you're there, order the avocado toast.
Mighty Valley Coffee
Another Ottawa-adjacent roaster (they're located in Smiths Falls), Mighty Valley thinks of themselves as artisan roasters and are committed to working with single origin coffee. They've also been working towards being zero waste since 2008 - pretty cool stuff.
Try These Beans: Future Folk
Find them: A several stores in Smiths Falls and area (like C'est Tout Bakery), and via their website.
Fluid Solar Roasted Coffee
The small scale Ottawa coffee roasters behind Fluid have lived off the grid for an incredible 25 plus years and the heat and electricity used for roasting coffee (and living their lives) comes from renewable sources. Their coffee is great, just like them.
Try These Beans: Starter Fluid
Find Them: At lots of little spots mostly outside Ottawa - and at Bon Echo Provincial Park! Or order via their website.
Animated Coffee is the ultimate feel-good business. A whopping 25% of their proceeds are distributed to animal rescue partners. They're also devoted to purchasing ethically sourced beans. They'd be the perfect roaster to support when buying a gift for an animal lover.
Try These Beans: Splash (Costa Rica)
Find Them: At a few small businesses like March Road Pet Food or via their website.
Morning Owl Coffee Roasters
I fell in love with Morning Owl long before I first sipped their coffee. The sight of the bright orange fridge in their teeny tiny Rochester St location captured my heart the minute I saw it! Since then, their focus has shifted more to food but you can still grab beans to go alongside your brunch.
Try These Beans: Brundi Dark Roast
Find them: At one of their six independent franchise locations (including my fav at 538 Rochester).
Back when I used to teach at the Running Room, I'd pop into Francesco's Bank Street location all the time apres-run. Things have changed since then. I'm a lot slower and they're in a new neighbourhood! But their ample list of beans and blends is still roast-to-order and I like that you can get as little as 3/4 of a pound to a full five pounds at a time.
Try These Beans: Garibaldi Espresso
Find them: At 48 Jamie Ave or via their website.
Most of the Ottawa coffee roasters on this list offer a subscription plan but no one is really taking Mojoe Coffee's approach. They build their boxes around different tasting experiences, like an adventure plan to explore different flavours or a layover plan where you're concentrating on just one region. Surprise, surprise: I love this travel based approach. Single bags are available a la cart as well.
Try These Beans: Monteverde Peru
Find Them: Via their website
Joe The Dog Coffee
Founded by the team who first launched the (now closed) WAG cafe and pet shop, it seems only fitting that Joe The Dog is a canine-themed coffee, from its packaging to pup inspired name. Plus, a portion of proceeds support animal rescue groups.
Try These Beans: Neutered Dog (decaf)
Find Them: A multiple locations across the region, including Metro and FarmBoy or via their website.
Cloud Forest Coffee
Cloud Forest Coffee keeps things really simple. There are just a few kinds of beans to choose from and they all come from the Intag region of Imbabura, Ecuador, purchased from a cooperative that allows local farmers to envision an eco-friendly future for their communities. If you want to feel a strong connection to your coffee growers, these are the beans for you.
Try These Beans: Your choices are basically medium, dark, or decaf. You can't go wrong!
Find Them: At their cafe at 339 Richmond Rd or via their website.
If you like your coffee beans to be on the exclusive side of things, it doesn't get much more niche than Izere Coffee. A mother-daughter team are bringing single origin specialty coffee from Brundi to Canada to be roasted in microlots. You know who else is doing that? Exactly no one. But that's where the exclusivity ends and everything else Izere does is warm, welcoming, and community-focused.
Try These Beans: Burundi Roast
Find Them: Via their website or try some coffee-rich Cosmic Latte beer at Beyond The Pale Brewery.
Birch Bark Coffee
Birch Bark offers organic, fair trade coffee which is grown by Latin American farmers that are Indigenous descendants and small producer certified. This Indigenious owned and operated social enterprise advocates for safe water in First Nations communites and, for every 100 bags of coffee sold in a retail store, aims to provide a vulnerable home with a certified water purification unit.
Try These Beans: Summer Solstice
Find Them: At several small businesses in Ottawa (plus the Algonquin College Bookstore) and shops across Canada, as well as their website.
LULO Coffee Roaster
LULO sources coffee from single farm producers and roasts in small batches every weekly at the Arlington Five coffee shop. Their "cool beans/hot tins" series pairs rare coffee varities with exceptional flavour with beautiful, recyeable tins that are perfect for showing off on your counter. Plus 20% of proceeds are donated to coffee inovation programs in Columbia.
Try These Beans: La Palma El Tucan Natural Bourbon Sidra
Find Them: Via their website
Joyful Coffee/Cafe Joyeux
Update! When I first began this post, I was in awe of how many Ottawa coffee roasters I discovered, stretching across the entire city. And I suspected I might need to come back and update this post to add in some overlooked locations or future businesses. Thanks to my friend and fellow travel writer, Peter, we have our first update and I'm adding Joyful Coffee to the list.
Everything about Joyful Coffee is delightful, from their pretty bags to their billingual website (most roasters' sites are English only or have just a bit of French). Positivity just radiates in all that they do. And you know what - I recognize their logo and packaging. I've had their coffee before at a bakery! So now I'm doubly happy to be reminded of them because they're too good to forget.
Try These Beans: Leo (for those who like their coffee somewhere between medium and dark roasts.)
Find them: At their very own Cafe Joyeux at 1600 Laurier in Rockland or via their website or at my beloved Black Walnut Bakery.
Honorouable Mention: Ministry of Coffee
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