8 ways to save money in Montréal's café culture

Montreal cafés are the best. Everyone knows this. And I feel so lucky to live close to some of the greatest ones in the city. But there in lies the rub. When every meeting for work, catch up with friends, and play date is at a café, it gets expensive. But over the years I've figured out a few ways to save while still indulging in the famous café culture of my city.

1. Trade in lattes for cappuccinos.

This is so hard because they are absolutely amazing, I know. But they're also the most expensive drink on the menu. Some pricier cafés (I'm looking at you, Myriade) charge over $5 for a latte, and that really adds up. Switching to a cappuccino, which is basically the same drink with a bit less milk will save you up to $1 each time you go.

2. Note that not all cafés charge the same!

I kind of assume that in each third wave café, I'll be charged relatively the same amount, but that's actually not true. I'm not going to list every café's prices here, but I'll give you a hint: Noble Café is the most affordable café in my hood, and Café Myriade is the priciest, with almost $1 price differences on certain drinks.

3. Don't buy marked up food!

This one is hard to do when I hit a café with my kids, because while I'm enjoying a coffee (my treat) they're wondering what's in it for them, ha! If I forget to bring along a clementine or banana for the littles, I usually end up buying a treat for them to split, and yes, the odd time I buy myself a snack too. But by and large I stick to a coffee, because the food is crazy over priced at basically every café. Example, a St. Viateur bagel from the bagel shop is $0.80, but at the café three doors down, it's $2.25.

4. Unsteamed milk is free!

Part of the appeal of these great cafés is the frothy milk and beautiful latte art, but that steamed milk costs something. If you love milk in your coffee, you could save a lot by just getting an Americano or filtered coffee and adding the free milk at the counter. No, it's not frothy, but it's free! And the price difference between an Americano and a latte is sometimes almost $2 depending on the café.

5. Fidelity cards!

A few cafés in the city have fidelity cards, where your 10th (or 11th) drink is on the house. This is especially sweet when you buy 9 or 10 filtered coffees, and your free drink is a latte, which is sometimes double the price of what you've bought to earn it. Check out Noble Café, Café Plume, and Moustache Café and grab one of their cards.

6. Buy your beans, get a drink free.

Some cafés have deals where if you buy a bag of beans from them, you get a free drink of your choice. This is a sweet deal! A $15 bag of coffee ends up costing more like $10, when you factor in the free latte. Café Noble and Lapin Pressé have this deal, fyi!

7. Step off the espresso.

I used to only like espresso-based drinks until I trained myself to enjoy filtered coffee, and now I like them equally. An Americano and a filtered coffee are essentially the same drink, but the filtered coffee is much less expensive! Add free counter milk to your filtered coffee instead of getting a cappuccino or latte and you're saving even more.

8. Indie Coffee Passport.

The ICP is my favourite! It's on now until Feb 1, and it's a card that gives you 1 drink at 29 different cafés in the city FOR THIRTY DOLLARS. It's less than $1 per drink, plus you get to visit some new spots. Buy yours here.

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