The 10 Best Cafes in Downtown Hamilton for 2018

For many, a morning without coffee is hardly a morning at all. If you’re the type that enjoys spending their mornings in cozy coffee shops or love to hunker down in a public space to do work for a few hours, we’re sure the following cafes are great fits.

Since there are so, so many fantastic coffee shops in Hamilton, we’ll be creating follow up lists highlighting other Hamilton areas in the coming months — this list focuses exclusively on cafes in Downtown Hamilton.

Here’s our 2018 list for Downtown Hamilton’s 10 best LOCAL cafes.

  Emerald Coffee Co.

While only having opened earlier this year, Emerald Coffee has quickly cemented itself as one of Hamilton’s must-visit cafes. The coffee shop serves Detour and Reunion Island coffee beans, local pastries as well as kombucha AND Nitro Cold Brew on tap.

With its hexagonal aesthetic, black-white-teal-brown colour scheme and even a sweet merch shelf, we’re confident you’ll be impressed the moment you walk in.

It’s also located next door to Hamilton’s popular Hello Baked, so you may as well grab a sugar cookie or macaron to go along with your drink!

  Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe

Converted from a former church, Brown Dog offers a gorgeous experience to coffee lovers with its stunning arched, wooden ceiling and second storey mezzanine that looks out onto the floor below — it’s definitely something out of the ordinary.

The cafe offers a multitude of varied beverages as well as freshly prepared soups, salads and treats. One of the best features of this coffee shop is that its hours run to 10 pm daily, making it one of the few cafes open this late into the evening.

  The Nook Cafe

The Nook is the most tucked away cafe on our list that’s quite easy to miss if you’re not looking for it!

This cute, welcoming cafe has a goal of being 100% waste-free and does so by using bio-degradable materials as well as implementing some pretty intense recycling and reuse practices. In addition to being a pioneer in the waste-reduction movement, The Nook Cafe is one of the few (if not only) places in Hamilton that offers mate tea and Turkish coffee.

  541 Eatery & Exchange

541 is committed to providing food that is affordable, nutritious and family-friendly. They have a button donation system that serves as a give-it-forward program for those without the means to pay for a meal. They also run a ton of programs for children, using their space as a haven for safety, growth and learning.

Nearly all of the employees are volunteers who work to gain experience and looking to give back. It’s a remarkably humbling experience to see all of the initiatives being done at this cafe to improve the lives of fellow Hamiltonians; we’re really proud of all the positive energy and kindness they provide this city with.

  Café Oranje

Café Oranje prides itself as a contemporary Euro-styled coffee house, offering a full menu of espresso-based hot and cold drinks plus locally blended teas. Their coffee is ethically and sustainably sourced from local roasters Relay Coffee Roasters, Vintage Coffee Roasters, and Signal Coffee Co. Their baked goods consist of Dutch treats such as almond cake and stroopwafels, while also serving a light breakfast and lunch. Their most famous lunch items are the hot pressed sandwiches; with seven different combinations, you’ll be sure to find something delicious to go along with your beverage.

 Steeltown Garage Co.

While the main focus at Steeltown Garage are the motorcycles and gear, the atmosphere that particular lifestyle brings to this coffee shop is energetic, unique and bad-ass. Steeltown Garage uses their own custom coffee blend that’s also sold in bags in the store. They also produce some fantastic merch like shirts, patches, stickers and mugs.

There’s a real pride in not only bikes but Hamilton that’s infectious from both the owners Jeff and Tania. It’s a really awesome environment these two have created here and whether you like motorcycles or not, it’s a space absolutely worth checking out by it’s sheer uniqueness from everything else in the city.

 Cannon Coffee Co.

Undoubtedly Hamilton’s favourite cafe in the East End, Cannon Coffee has become a staple of Ottawa Street, serving up photogenic waffles, sandwiches and brunches. Located right at the corner of Cannon St E and Ottawa Street N, there’s a ton of sunlight that glows throughout the cafe making for one of the most whimsical spots to spend your morning. The use of wood throughout the cafe makes the space feel earthy and charming.

 Mulberry Street Coffeehouse

This famous James Street North cafe is easily one of the best spots to bring someone or have a meeting. The sheer space of the coffeehouse offers a tremendous amount of variety in seating and scenery. There’s even a patio ready for those warm summer days to take advantage of — a feature very few cafes in Hamilton seem to have.

The 1887 building is full of character, from the original inlaid tile work to original plaster ceiling medallions above where you get your coffee served. There’s just such a great ambiance at Mulberry and it’s integration into Art Crawl as well as hosting the occasional live event continues to add points in their favour.

  Durand Coffee

Named after the neighbourhood it’s located in, Durand Coffee is one of the best options in Hamilton for those looking for a peaceful spot to spend their mornings and lunch. The large front windows offer great sunlight to those looking to read a book or the morning paper while the secondary seating area that’s adjacent to the counter has couches, books, and board games for a more loungey feel.

The latter seating area is one of my favourite spots to chill in the city because the setup is essentially a living room where strangers just pop in and hang out. The homeyness of Durand Coffee is just so hard to find elsewhere.

  Redchurch Cafe + Gallery

Turning one year old just the other day, Redchurch is so tied to Gore Park that it’s hard to imagine the area without it now. How did a year-old cafe top our list? While the aesthetic, layout, and atmosphere are all extremely well done, the key is their integration with community.

It seems like every few days Redchurch is hosting an event whether it be poetry readings, incubator meetings, product launches or art unveilings. And of course, there’s the gallery which switches up every month or so featuring different local artists with each rotation. They easily could have used this room as additional seating but opted to create a gorgeous space to showcase our talented artists instead.

Whenever someone asks me what Hamilton’s best cafe is, Redchurch is now my top choice because it meshes Hamilton’s greatest strengths all in one place: our excellent coffee scene, art, and community.

Looking to explore more LOCAL cafes? Then be sure to explore our search page!

Been to any of these? Unlock them!

What changes would you make to our list? Let us know in the comments!

Comments (2)

    1. Robert Cekan

      This list was incredibly difficult to create; we are fortunate to have so many independent cafes to narrow down from. Ultimately, the noise factor along the King corridor was what knocked out a few really great cafes.