Up until a few months ago, flat whites did not exist in Manitoba. The closest I could get to my favourite Australian drink was a latte, and then I had to deal with poorly steamed (often burnt) milk and average beans. Recently that’s changed with both Starbucks and Second Cup adding flat whites to their menu, but I hardly think they count.
Coffee addicts can give thanks to the bean gods, because Winnipeg has experienced a coffee revolution over the past three years. Independent coffee shops have popped up all over the city serving exotic beans, silky smooth steamed milk, and perfect, golden cremas.
Flat whites are still a foreign concept, and I’ve had to adjust my ideas on what constitutes a cappuccino (minimal froth an no chocolate powder) in this city. But I love that Winnipeg has just adopted it’s own, slightly off-the-wall methods for making and naming coffee.
Here’s a round up of my top picks for Winnipeg coffee:
Postal was the first independent coffee shop that we discovered shortly after arriving in Winnipeg. I was feeling especially home sick and almost wept as I watched the barista create a perfect fern in the velvety foam of my latte. Located in the French district, Postal’s demographic is slightly older and slightly Frencher (obviously) than the hordes of hipsters that flood the other independent coffee shops in the city.
A convenient 20-minute cycle from our house in summer and a five minute stroll to the nearest sunny park, their rickety sidewalk tables are perfect for people watching on a Saturday morning.
Postal continues to be my top choice in Winnipeg, mostly because they are the closest to our house and also because they have fantastic ambience that I can’t quite put into words. You will just have to visit them for yourself. Oh, and did I mention they also serve unique cocktails on weekends?
This is where I go for my fix during work or when I’m Downtown. Parlour is a lot smaller than some other places on my list which, combined with the whip cracking speed in which they make their coffees, means they are my go-to for takeout. They’re very popular with the local college students and also the corporate crowd. There’s always a line up, but never a wait.
Parlour was the second coffee shop I discovered after Postal and will thus always hold a special place in my heart for helping me to adjust to a city with no flat whites.
Although parking here is limited, that’s not a problem for the bicycle-riding hipsters that frequent this West-Broadway joint. Tom Bargen is always pumping and they obviously have a loyal crowd, which is not surprising when you taste their mellow coffee. They also get my vote for THE BEST London fogs in all of Winnipeg and perhaps the world, especially since they don’t leave the pesky tea bag wallowing in the milk.
Little Sister Coffee Maker
You have to give an independent coffee shop that opens directly across the street from both a Starbucks and a Tim Horton’s major props. In fact, I must’ve walked past this spot, set just below street level, a hundred times on my way to Starbucks without even realizing this gem was even here. Little Sister’s coffee is blindingly strong but perfect when coupled with one of their peanut butter and jam doughnuts from Oh Doughnuts.
Flatland Coffee Roasters
Okay, this isn’t actually in Winnipeg but it definitely deserves a mention. Located an hour outside of Winnipeg in my favourite small town, Flatland Coffee Roasters is the best thing to hit Gimli second only to summer. Along with the regular ten-out-of-ten lattes and cappuccinos, they also make their own pumpkin spice lattes in autumn and homemade peppermint mochas in winter. That this coffee shop is still thriving over a year after opening, is remarkable for a town where coffee has only ever been served blandly brewed for the past gazillion years.
Owner Chad spent a few years learning how to roast coffee beans in Texas and so they not only roast their own beans and serve their own unique blend, but you can buy their beans to take home with you. I’m counting down the days until summer when I can walk along the beach with one of their iced concoctions.
Okay Winnipeg, what is your all time fave indie coffee shop?