It’s hard to espresso how much your ELO gals love coffee. To say we run on java is an understatement. Any adventure we go on starts with a cup of coffee or latte so naturally, we are always looking to seek out great spots to get just that. Luckily, there is no shortage of fantastic cafes in St Catharines! Next time you find yourself in Niagara and you’re in need of some caffeine, check out one of these top downtown St Catharines coffee shops. We think you’ll love them a latte.
Stop In At These Top Downtown St Catharines Coffee Shops
The downtown core of St Catharines has been transforming over the years. Since becoming a two-way street, St Paul has become more heavily trafficked and with the establishment of the Meridian Centre and the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre, the vibe is certainly changing. Take a stroll, enjoy some of the street art and, of course, a coffee or three at some of the best coffee shops in St Catharines!
The Brazen Cafe
One thing that makes St Catharines a neat place to be is the wide range of cafes you’ll find. If you’re looking for a taste of Europe in the downtown core, that’s exactly what Doreen has expertly crafted at The Brazen Cafe. Armed with a childhood dream of owning her own cafe, she has established a unique gem that St Catharines is lucky to have. With beautiful decor inspired by Édith Piaf, you’ll absolutely fall in love with the atmosphere. Let’s just say that if La Vie en Rose transformed into a coffee shop, The Brazen Cafe is it.
Originally from Toronto, she isn’t a stranger to Niagara as she grew up visiting Sherkston Shores with her family. Doreen wanted to bring something new to the area while fusing a number of her passions. She loves her coffee and cocktails but is passionate about the art of burlesque. With friends who are incredibly talented that travel in from Toronto to perform, you will certainly be in for an incredible show. Make sure to keep an eye on her Facebook Page for upcoming events.
Doreen goes for quality over quantity so you won’t find food here as that’s just not what she does. However, you will find an impeccable list of coffee and tea items and she knocks each one out of the park. Snag one of her turmeric lattes and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Mind you it isn’t caffeinated so if you’re looking for that energy boost, you honestly can’t go wrong with any of her coffee options. She definitely has some of the best coffee in Niagara!
While The Brazen Cafe is open in the morning and afternoon for your latte needs, its final form appears at night. Sexy is honestly the best way to describe it. Grab a few friends and settle in for an evening of incredible cocktails like her French gin and tonic, the Matador or one of her martinis. Though if you arrive a little earlier, be sure to try one of the Brazen Coffees like the high note and raspberry beret. Many of these recipes are all her own so you won’t find anything like it elsewhere!
The Brazen Cafe Information
Address: 19 King Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3H1
Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Thursday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, Fridays & Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Closed Sundays & Mondays
Mahtay Cafe & Lounge
With the main ideal being “revolutions were planned in cafes”, Mahtay is a space for anyone and everyone. The culture you’ll find is one that’s welcoming, inclusive and safe for all. It doesn’t matter what your colour, creed, gender, orientation is, this is somewhere you can come and be comfortable. Opening in August 2011, owner Chris Lowe comes from a construction background with no real restaurant experience but he had a vision and passion for a cafe and that shows in every facet of Mahtay.
One thing you’ll notice right away is just how lovely the staff are and that speaks to the culture of Mahtay. They hire based on personality rather than skill as you can learn the ropes on the job. And when the staff stay on for years or staff will return again and again, that just shows how wonderful of an atmosphere they’ve cultivated here.
Mahtay is also home to the busiest small stage in town. Open mic nights on Fridays are a sight to see as this is the warmest crowd in town. There are also a number of other different meet-ups occurring throughout the week. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and keep an eye out for their amazing events like drink and draws, drag brunches and more.
Looking to pop in for a coffee? I recommend asking about their seasonal drinks (I hear rumblings of a mini egg latte for Easter…) as they’re always unique and delicious. If straight-up coffee is more your style, grab a cup of the Mahtay Medium, their standard drip coffee, that is unique to them and made in partnership with Signal Coffee Company which is roasted in Port Dalhousie! And if you’re feeling a little peckish, grab one of their kimcheese grillers. As long as you don’t mind a little spice and love your kimchi, you’ll be all over this sandwich!
Mahtay Café Information
Address: 241 St Paul Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3M7
Hours of Operation: Daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
Fine Grind Cafe
While it has seen a number of faces, the Fine Grind Cafe has been around for over 25 years. The owner, Rob, has always been happy to offer an alternative to the sort of mainstream coffee shops you’ll find in any typical downtown core. Upon stepping inside, you’ll notice the decor is a mash-up of woodworking, antiques and steampunk. To me, that speaks to how the unusual can come together and have a home which is exactly what the Find Grind Cafe has to offer downtown St Catharines. With over 16 years and counting at its James Street location, it has certainly come a long way since its early days in the back corner of what is now Patrick Sheehan’s Irish Pub!
Buy coffee from local farms in Matagalpa Nicaragua and roast them here with Manic Pixie Dream Coffee in Toronto. Coffee served in-house. Equal Beaver Coffee and half of the profits of all the coffee beans go right back to the community in Matagalpa to fund projects as well as help people in the area build a better life for themselves. They’re actually in the process of trying to help establish a full equity farm as the area has a number of farmers but no land to farm on. When you stop in, check out their big board of transparency to see just how much they’re making an impact on Matagalpa.
It’s a no-brainer that you should definitely buy a bag of coffee to take home, but if you plan on sitting in for a beverage then they have a number of great options to choose from. One that stands out for me is their Vietnamese coffee as no other coffee shop downtown offers it! Though if you’re looking for a treat, I’ve heard their milkshakes are absolutely out of this world – AND they can be made vegan. How awesome is that?
Fine Grind Cafe Information
Address: 37 James Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 5B4
Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Closed Sundays & Mondays
Ludology Boardgame Cafe
If you’re looking for a fantastic date night out or a great spot to spend the evening with friends, Ludology is the perfect destination. This is easily one of the most elegant board game cafes I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. From the decor to the artwork and the incredible food and drink list, it really is the whole package. Even if you’re not a big game nerd, you will absolutely love your time at Ludology!
Josh, the owner of Ludology, has travelled across Canada for conventions and visited a number of board game cafes along the way. As you can imagine, he’s seen his fair share and put all of that knowledge into Ludology and, of course, his own flair. With over 300 games at your disposal (which will grow to 500 once things calm down in the world), you certainly won’t play the same game twice… unless you want to, of course. You can check out their full roster on the Ludology website. If that seems too daunting though, don’t be afraid to ask Josh or one of the staff for some suggestions of games to try!
Since you’ll be spending some time playing a game or three, I suggest indulging in one of their boozy options. You’ll find a great selection of wines and beers but I can’t recommend their cocktails enough. The Scotland Yard is an adult-ified London Fog with a shot of whiskey that is perfect on a chilly winter day. There’s also the Terry’s Chocolate Orange Egg Nog made with their very own housemade egg nog and their Euphoria Espresso Martini. Their food menu is also top-notch so you’ll definitely want to plan for a bite to eat during your visit.
Ludology can definitely get busy, especially in the evenings, so making a reservation is not a bad idea!
In case you were wondering, this definitely isn’t the spot for a coffee to go. You’ll want to pick another one of these downtown St Catharines coffee shops if you’re on the run!
Ludology Boardgame Cafe Information
Address: 52 St Paul Street – Unit 2, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3M2
Hours of Operation: Wednesdays & Thursdays from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, Fridays from 3:00 pm to 1:00 am, Saturdays from Noon to 1:00 am, Sundays from Noon to 10:00 pm, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Vulies Tea & Cafe
If you’ve been going to the St Catharines Farmers Market since 2009, then you’ll probably recognize Voula. Her cousin, the owner of Curtis Coffee, was looking to get their name out and she was looking for a little extra money – talk about a win-win situation. Little did she know she’d fall in love with the industry!
After some time at the market, Voula realized that not only was she good at this but she really enjoyed it. However, coffee wasn’t her full passion and wanted to add something that was truly her own. She then added her line-up of teas because why not both? As someone who drinks coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon, she couldn’t see why having both would be a bad idea… and I have to agree!
While they’ve had to ramp down their offerings over the past few years because of everything, they are hoping to add some tea-infused eats and treats to their repertoire. Voula and her family are big foodies that love to eat and drink as well as experiment with recipes to see where they can add tea-infused ingredients. When they add more to their menu, you can guarantee it’ll be delicious since it’s tried and tested by them all!
Vulies Tea & Cafe Information
Address: St Catharines Farmers Market at 91 King Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3H6
Hours of Operation: Saturdays from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm
de la terre Bakery
If you had told Jan while he was studying at the Stratford Chef’s School that he would end up owning a bakery focusing on sourdough bread, he would have thought you were nuts. It was by a series of coincidences that he ended up falling in love with this style of loaf but he certainly hasn’t looked back. De la terre has bounced around a little from Fonthill to Vineland to its new and final home on Geneva Street in downtown St Catharines. It is certainly a welcomed addition to the core!
With a background in international development studies, Jan has always been passionate about how communities organize to work together and create opportunities to meet their needs. Back in the days of the 2008 recession, he wanted to show the community the time and effort that went into each and every item made at de la terre. To this day, the kitchen is open and you can see the loaves and pastries being made from scratch. You’ll be mesmerized watching the staff work!
They also partner with a number of organizations to enhance not just de la terre but also the downtown core. Take Someday Books, for example. The selection you’ll find in the cafe includes some that Jan has purchased outright for folks to enjoy during their visit and there are also books for purchase. They’ve also paired with the fine folks at Dispatch Restaurant to help supply some of the pastry for their dishes. Come summer, you’ll see their pollinator garden in full bloom and they’re in the process of obtaining some beehives for the roof! That’s honestly just the tip of the iceberg as Jan has so many plans for the future that will bring the downtown community together.
It’s obvious that some bread or a sweet treat like their addictive monkey buns are a go-to while visiting de la terre, and what better to pair them with than a coffee? Their oat milk flat white is certainly a fan favourite and their pour-over coffee is also a solid choice. However if you’re feeling adventurous, talk to their head barista Caleb and see what he recommends. Said to be whatever the coffee equivalent of a sommelier would be, he will not steer you wrong!
de la terre Bakery Information
Address: 55 Geneva Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 4M6
Hours of Operation: Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sundays from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wandering Spirits Coffee
Wandering Spirits is definitely one of the most popular coffee shops in downtown St Catharines and it comes with quite the story. Gregor, the driving force behind the cafe, started in kinesiology due to his love of sports but decided it wasn’t for him and went into business. He found himself in a business-to-business job before finishing his degree and it allowed him to network with a number of local businesses in Niagara – a true passion of his. This energy for connecting with people is one of the first things you’ll notice as soon as you step into Wandering Spirits Coffee.
So, what brought him to the world of coffee? He worked for Starbucks as a barista in his younger days and, while he isn’t a fan of their coffee by any means, he appreciated the ambiance and experience they provide. When he left his job in October 2020, he had purchased a camper and knew he had to hit the ground running. With the intent of doing mobile bartending for weddings and events, he thought well, I NEED to have an espresso machine too… gotta love those impulse buys you can expense!
Shortly after this, he visited Bushel and Peck as he lived in the area for a while and they asked him to set up his coffee trailer. Not one to turn down an opportunity, Gregor jumped at it and was a staple in front of their storefront for over a year. This allowed him to build up a loyal following – and a physical location. While that was originally to be on Russel Avenue, plans have changed and he is now a permanent staple of James Street.
You’ll be greeted with a smile as you step into their storefront. Pop by and grab a cup of their custom roast they have in partnership with Black Sheep Coffee out of Welland. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a flat white but I’m personally a fan of their French Toast latte, especially since they make the French toast syrup in-house! For the summer of 2023, they have a few new options including iced teas, coconut vanilla shaken iced espresso with cold foam and a lavender lemonade. They’re guaranteed to keep you cool on those hot days downtown!
Wandering Spirits Coffee Information
Address: 31 James Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 5B9
Hours of Operation: Tuesday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Saturdays & Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Closed Mondays
More St Catharines Coffee Shops to Check Out
There are already a number of incredible cafes in St Catharines but there are even more where that came from! To say there is no shortage of caffeine is an understatement so here are a few more ideas of St Catharines coffee shops to check out downtown.
- Beechwood Doughnuts – No visit to Niagara is complete without a trip to Beechwood Doughnuts. While they do serve coffee, they’re more well known for having the best donuts in the region… dare I say the best donuts in Ontario? Stop in and grab one to see for yourself!
- Encore Cafe & Bistro – If you find yourself waiting for the Greyhound or hopping on a city bus, pop by Encore Cafe & Bistro for a bite to eat or a coffee for your trip.
- The Hub Cafe – Located inside what’s known to many as the Corebloc building at 80 King Street, they have a number of hot beverages as well as soups, sandwiches, etc which make it a perfect lunch spot in downtown St Catharines. Give their white chocolate chai a try!
- Caffe Gatti – If you’re looking for a traditionally Italian espresso beverage, Caffe Gatti has you covered. It’s apparently a fan favourite of Justin Trudeau!
- The Keto Crumb Bakery – Say hello to Niagara’s first 100% keto, gluten-free and sugar-free bakery. Pop by their storefront on Church to see what eats and treats they have and grab one of their bulletproof coffees.
Of course if you’re in Niagara, there are a number of other cafes to explore in the region like 416 Coffee in Port Dalhousie and Third Space Cafe in Niagara Falls. Stay tuned for future guides and in the meantime, check out our post on the best Niagara-on-the-Lake coffee shops!
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