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chill

Hot Drink Hot Spots

By Joseph Mathieu

These aren’t your grandma’s coffee shops. Although she’ll probably like them too. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the more unique and fun spots to warm up as the spring slowly comes around.

 Photo by Laura Jasmine

The Vanitea Room

The gilded mirrors, regal chandeliers and plush chairs make every visit to The Vanitea Room an opulent affair. The atmosphere is Victorian flair with a modern twist, epitomized by a large flowery mural. The salon serves afternoon tea five days a week, with a dazzling array of over 150 teas from around the world. Teatime isn’t complete without their elegant three-tier serving tray teeming with edible delights, from macarons to panna cotta. They also offer breakfast, lunch, and tea parties for kids, as well as an all-day brunch (bubbly, anyone?) with savoury meals like eggs benedict or French toast and sweet goods like scones and cakes baked in-house. 551 Somerset St. W., thevanitearoom.com

Sutherland

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this hybrid cafe is quite versatile: appealing to those looking for a casual space, one area has a cozy nook, a wall bench, and a pastry case full of freshly baked goods, while the remaining space is dedicated to the dining room where Ottawa-renowned chef, Warren Sutherland, serves up his eclectic take on South American, Asian, and Caribbean dishes. For lunch, try the eggs of North Africa, served with a chickpea stew, and the smoked salmon toast makes for a hearty breakfast. They serve many hot drinks, but their Jamaicano is the surest way kick start a drowsy day: made with steamed milk and two espresso shots sweetened by an ounce of condensed milk. 224 Beechwood Ave., sutherlandrestaurant.com

Feline Café

A great way to enjoy a coconut oil-infused bulletproof coffee or a matcha latte is with the companionship of rescued cats. The Feline Café has three separate sections: the entrance with a barn-board wood counter from which to order, another filled with cubbyholes and scratching posts for cats to play with the public, and a third just for cats to sleep or hide. There are on average six cats at the café, and every single one is available for adoption. A bulletin board displays all adopted cats that went on to their forever home from here. The café supports the foster operation, so feel good about ordering an organic tea, a vegan-friendly dishes like the jackfruit taco rice bowl, or any baked goods from several of local bakeries. You can bring food into the public cat lounge, but keep the kitties from taking nibbles! 1076 Wellington St. W., felinecafeottawa.com

Dreamland Café

This Italian food counter feels like a little oasis with its cloud-like lamps and wispy hints of pink, purple, and yellow. Though it specializes in homemade pizza and pasta, Dreamland is always creating new syrup-based coffees and teas to go or enjoy at their window bar. They have familiar flavours like mint cocoa latte and a classic matcha, and those looking for a health boost should try their hot lattes made with beetroot or turmeric — both root-based drinks are high in antioxidants. Run by two local sisters, their amazing sauces, like pancetta pesto and shrimp lemon garlic, are based on their grandmother’s recipes. 200 Laurier Ave. W., dreamlandcafe.ca

The Ministry of Coffee

This duo of coffeehouses are both built to be cozy and chic, with wood-wrapped espresso bars and several two-seat tables. Elgin’s spot is intimate and low-key while Hintonburg’s is more spacious and communal. The latter is known as The Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs because of its liquor license, later hours, and events, concerts, and fundraisers. Both aim to serve the best coffees from around the world, and to showcase some of the finest Canadian roasters. They regularly feature coffees from the likes of Burlington’s Detour Coffee Roasters, Calgary’s Phil & Sebastian, and Anchored Coffee from Nova Scotia. 297 Elgin St. & 1013 Wellington St. W., theministryofcoffee.com

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blumenstudio

This friendly café and flower shop feels like a private greenhouse, with a myriad of shelves and tables covered in plants. It’s owned by a second-generation flower aficionado from Dresden, Germany, and managed by Klaus, her mini schnauzer mix (seen napping, above). The owner changes her floral wares each season, but her yummy coffees remain consistent. Every espresso is made with a certified organic and fair-trade coffee bean blend that’s roasted with green technology. The studio serves a great Americano with only one or two ounces of water, and claims to be the first in Ottawa to pour cortados: half espresso, half steamed milk. On top of selling planters and cut flowers, the shop also hosts floral arrangement workshops such as making succulent gardens and seasonal bouquets. 465 Parkdale Ave., blumenstudio.ca