Location: Montreal, QC
Rating: 6+ [see key]
A coffeehouse with a line is usually a great sign. I say "usually" because there exist some cafes that will make questionably poor choices that cause customer waits, like a lone barista operation pouring exclusively pourover during the morning rush or the cue being held up by someone who ordered 15 creme brûlée lattes for the office. But when a hefty line forms despite four employees moving like a Swiss clock, I take solace in the fact that the wait is almost definitely worth it.
One of the more recent examples of a pleasantly crowded cafe happened to me on a Monday morning at Montreal's Cafe Différance. I arrived to find the long shop full of merry patrons processing quickly through the ranks to get their drinks and run off to their morning deadlines. The shop had a copious amount of wall seating not to mention a pretty window bar, but that morning the seats remained mostly vacant as the popular demand was for coffee to go.
Naturally, the quality of the coffee seems to have played a part in the cafe's popularity. Slinging beans from great roasters like Phil and Sebastian and 49th Parallel, that morning I ordered two coffees from Bows and Arrows out of Victoria: The Hathaway blend via espresso and a filtered brew of a Kenyan. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, imparted a sweet, bright infusion full of lime, fresh italian bread crust, chocolate and red pepper. The Kenya also proved excellent, with notes of buttermilk biscuit, plum, nectarine, a little mozzarella, romaine and some cola in a full medium body.
After spending a some time enjoying my drinks, I returned my espresso cup and took the rest of my filtered coffee to go, joining the masses on their way to the office. Whether you're on your way to work or just strolling nearby, definitely make a stop by Cafe Différance for some great coffee.