It’s no secret that coffee snobs who crave something beyond Tim Horton’s and Starbucks have plenty of fine options in Hamilton’s brimming coffee scene.
From local roasters to cafes who have mastered the craft, these are our 2019 picks for Hamilton’s Top 10 LOCAL coffee spots for your morning fix (or afternoon, or evening. We don’t judge!)
In the John Street South space once occupied by Pinecone Coffee, Salty Espresso is a cozy and well-loved favourite for that morning brew.
On top of expertly-brewed coffee sourced from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters in Vancouver, Salty also offers delectable lunch and brunch options like smashed avocado toast and chia pudding, with recipes inspired by the owners’ respective Australian and Canadian roots. There’s also usually an incredible-looking and always-changing cake (baked daily by Mai Nguyen) on display just tempting you to grab a slice… or four.
Located in the historic Victoria Hall in Gore Park, the primo location is a perfect match for Redchurch’s gorgeously renovated cafe space and excellent coffee. High ceilings and ample seating make this an excellent spot for nomadic professionals to plunk down with a latte and laptop. The rear of the cafe also plays host to The Assembly Gallery, allowing coffee drinkers to take in the ever-changing local art on display while they sip.
A rotating selection of coffees and espressos from Toronto’s De Mello Palheta Roasters is complemented by seasonal menus of appetizing cafe fare for breakfast and lunch. Those in search of more unusual coffee options will be pleased to find offerings like beetroot lattes here too!
This place is the very definition of a hidden gem. While most who wander downtown Dundas typically hit up Detour for their coffee needs, a slight “detour” across the street and down the gravel alleyway beside the Horn of Plenty will lead you to a bare-bones, hidden hybrid of a coffee shop and cyclist gear store.
But make no mistake: Grupetto is serious about their coffee. For a richer Italian style roasted coffee, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better roaster in the city; they even make what is arguably the best Americano in town. So next time you’re exploring Dundas, wander off the beaten path and get ready for a pleasant surprise.
One of James North’s most popular caffeine stations, Smalls Coffee is aptly named; it holds the title of the tiniest coffee shop in Hamilton, with a space almost entirely consumed by the sizeable counter, which holds a small case of daily pastries and an espresso machine. You won’t find any tables or workspace here; we’re talking strictly grab-and-go.
Luckily, the coffee (supplied by Toronto’s Sam James Roasters) is beyond excellent, with drinks crafted exquisitely by some of the friendliest folks you’ll find on James North. They even froth the milk by hand for their iced lattes!
Hamiltonians go to Synonym Shop for the coffee, and stay for the gorgeous, Instagram-worthy aesthetic and curated selection of books and art in this hybrid spot on James North.
Food and drink aside, Synonym’s space is just plain beautiful, with bright white walls of exposed brick and woodgrain all over the place. Once you’ve picked your jaw up off of the floor and taken your share of photos, stagger up to the counter and order from a menu loaded with all of your coffee needs.
If you go on an empty stomach, don’t worry: Synonym’s food menu features nothing but the most tempting vegetarian and vegan brunch & lunch dishes. Some might say James North has too many coffee shops. I say, if they’re as great as Synonym, keep them coming.
Patrons of Saint James Espresso Bar & Eatery frequently leave saying at least one of these things: “Wow, they really know their coffee!” or “That’s one of the best brunches I’ve ever had.”
There’s a reason for that. Not only is Saint James one of many excellent spots to score impeccable coffee, they’re also infamous for churning out outstanding brunch dishes that are as delicious as they are Instagrammable. Whether you get the delectable avocado toast or a dense & fluffy short stack, you’re not going to leave the Saint James dissatisfied. Add exceptional espresso to the equation, and you’ve pretty much got Hamilton’s closest thing to heaven.
One word: Waffles.
Yes, the coffee at Cannon Coffee Co. is terrific. The Ottawa Street spot is a perfect place to catch up with your friends over a hot cup of something delicious. But if you don’t also grab one of the Cannon’s gigantic, mouthwatering waffles alongside that cappuccino, you’re missing out big time.
Legendary film director Guillermo del Toro calls Cannon’s waffles the best he’s ever had. Yes, they’re that good. Topped with poached eggs and loaded with mouthwatering toppings ranging from sweet to savoury, there’s pretty much no better coffee accompaniment in the city. Go indulge in the food and drink Cannon Coffee has to offer, then come back and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.
One of the newest additions to Hamilton’s coffee scene, Phin Coffee Bar has also quickly proven itself to be one of the best.
These folks get their hands on some very hard-to-find coffee beans, and they do those beans justice with expert, loving brewing technique and craftsmanship in their unassuming Westdale location. Phin Coffee is easy to miss; attached to a narrow section of a fitness gym with only a sandwich board to alert passersby of the caffeinated goodness that awaits.
A relatively short walk from McMaster University, this is the ideal spot for students to get some quiet work done while indulging in some of Hamilton’s best coffee. What could be better?
If you live in Hamilton and you haven’t been to Mulberry, do you REALLY live in Hamilton?
Mulberry Street Coffeehouse on James North is easily the busiest independent coffee shop in Hamilton, and with good reason; the bohemian vibes are inviting, there’s tons of workspace in the spacious yet warm interior, and the fair-trade coffee and food menu are both stacked with deliciousness for days. They even have local beer from breweries like Collective Arts and Fairweather on tap.
As if Mulberry couldn’t get any better, the walls of the cafe are often lined with exhibits of original works by local artists, available for patrons to admire or even purchase. If this place closes its doors one day, there will be riots — James North just wouldn’t be the same without Mulberry Street Coffeehouse.
Relay Coffee is quintessential Hamilton: the O.G local coffee roaster has been filling cups and waking folks up since 2008 under its original name, Red Hill Coffee.
The famous stand in the Hamilton Farmers’ Market later expanded to a sizeable cafe on Concession Street. While the beloved Concession location closed its doors earlier this year, Relay Coffee transitioned seamlessly to an even larger space by the corner of King William and James North; a space which previously held the fondly-remembered Rust City Brewery and Homegrown Coffee.
In many ways, the central downtown location in the heart of our city feels like the home Relay was always destined to be in. Simply put, Relay Coffee Roasters is as Hamilton as it gets.
What changes would you make to our list? Let us know in the comments!