Downtown Winnipeg is known for having the most frigid intersection in the city at Portage and Main, heritage buildings in Exchange District, beautiful blooming trees on the Manitoba legislature grounds, and art galleries. It’s also known for its selection of unique, classy coffee shops. Downtown coffee shops don’t just serve espresso drinks to get you through the day; they also offer a cozy, relaxing place to unwind.
I’ve explored coffee shops in downtown Winnipeg from Main Street to Broadway, proving there are many satisfying options for holding meetings, working, chatting, or just spending quality time alone with a good book. When people ask me what to do in Winnipeg or where they can grab a good cup of coffee, I say two magic words: Forth and Parlour. Of course, those are just the highlights—here are five options for where to get your caffeine fix downtown.
This coffee shop is located at 379 Broadway (plus another location at the Forks), and you can imagine how busy it gets. During the lunch rush, you’re lucky if you manage to snag a seat. To keep pace, the staff is very energetic and friendly. I won’t bother mentioning that they have great coffee—obviously they do, or this place wouldn’t be on the list! Instead, I want to highlight the interior. My forever-favourite part about Fools and Horses is the humongous wooden table right in the middle of the shop. The table is surrounded by mint and silver iron chairs, which are usually filled with students. I can’t count how many random but totally pleasant chats I’ve while sitting there, sipping a delicious cappuccino.
The first thing that literally hit my eye when I walked into tiny Parlour was the writing on the wall. “No Wi-Fi. Talk to your neighbour.” I was amazed to see my own philosophy of old-fashioned communication reflected in a coffee shop. That day, I got a cup of hot chocolate, a croissant, and walked out having decided to become a regular customer at 468 Main Street. The shop itself is small, but very cozy. They don’t have the usual tables and chairs, just wooden bar chairs and counters lining the walls and window. Grab a spot by the window for the best view of Main Street. Thanks to their friendly baristas, welcoming atmosphere and high-quality coffee, you’ll find an impeccable place to hide from the rain with a good book or for a chat with a stranger.
Thom Bargen has two locations in Winnipeg, but I love the café at 250 Kennedy Street. Thom Bargen is the only place in Winnipeg that serves Phil & Sebastian coffee beans. If you’re a coffee lover like myself, you’ll appreciate the selection Thom Bargen offers. They also feature special guest roasters that change monthly. My favourites so far have been Monogram and Anchored.
Thom Bargen is also known for its beautiful tiny marble tables, and prime location in a beautiful part of downtown. The café is framed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet on one side, and a small bookshop that has a huge selection of old and rare editions on the other. The Kennedy location also has the most Instagram-worthy plant wall! It makes the café feel fresh and summery on even the coldest days.
While not technically a coffee shop, Stella’s deserves a mention when discussing coffee in downtown Winnipeg. The Stella’s location at 110 Sherbrook is a bakery-plus-restaurant combo across two buildings. While I highly recommend the restaurant for breakfast or lunch, today I want to highlight the bakery. Step inside, take in a breath of air warm with freshly baked bread, order a latte and chocolate croissant, and nestle in at one of the tiny wooden tables in the corner. The bakery feels meant for quiet conversations or a quick getaway from responsibilities. A word of advice: When hunting for a chocolate croissant, make sure to get there in the morning. The famous pastries at Stella’s fly out the door as soon as they open.
I saved the most unique and loved café for last. Forth is known for its square wooden tables, plants, and stand of newspapers from different cities. It’s also beloved for its rooftop patio, which offers amazing views from May to October (weather permitting). You can see both the modern part of downtown and the heritage buildings of the Exchange District. The contrast is breathtaking.
Forth doesn’t just serve espresso drinks. They serve a small menu of snacks, salads, and some alcoholic beverages. The rooftop bar is the most stylish and minimalist-looking bar I’ve seen in Winnipeg. When you visit, indulge in the avocado toast, as it will just melt on your tongue. The shop is in a historical building at 171 McDermot. The Dawson Richardson Building was built in 1921 to become the Grain Trade News publishing house. When inside, you might feel you can still catch the smell of old typographical papers and hear the click-clack of typewriter keys.
Let us know about your favourite downtown Winnipeg coffee shop. Leave a comment, and add to this list. As always, enjoy your cup of coffee!