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The Best Latte in the Glebe

By Katie Marsh on May 15, 2009

The Glebe – the favourite hang-out of Ottawa’s dog and baby set – likely has more places to buy coffee per square meter then any other neighbourhood in the city. Sprinkled liberally between jewellery stores, upscale clothing boutiques and Ottawa’s composting worm outlet is a fine assortment of independent and chain latte retailers.  Apartment613 thought it made sense do a review of the yuppie version of the cup of Joe – the latte – in the heart of yuppie territory (mostly because it gave us an excuse to get jacked up on coffee while gossiping about Lex Luther Larry O’Brien). Yes, you can have your fill of Starbucks and Second Cup as well (the Timothy’s recently shut down), but if you want the true Glebe experience grab your reusable coffee mug and head down to these Bank Street java joints.

In no particular order, here’s our picks:

1. Full-screenIl Negozio Nicastro
792 Bank Street

Luckily for Ottawa, there are two locations of this fine establishment (the other is in Hintonburg).  This was our testers’ favorite latte. The espresso was rich and strong with just enough milky foam. The fact that the store is also an Italian deli helped make the experience seem less Starbucks and more la dolce vita! Unfortunately, the serving sizes are also more European (although that means more room for the other goodies in the shop).

2. Morala Specialty Coffee
734 Bank Street

This is an understated but hip coffee shop that also serves a variety of delicious snacks. The espresso is mellower then the one at Nicastros, but still comes from a good quality bean. A big plus was the chill atmosphere, which invites lingering over a newspaper or a novel.

3. Francesco’s Coffee Company
857 Bank Street

Francesco’s makes a great cup of coffee, and the store undoubtedly is the place to go for coffee beans (you get a free cut with every bag). That’s why it was so surprising that the latte was surprisingly average (although maybe we were just getting latted out by that point). The Bank Street location is also the least cozy of the Glebe Cafe’s.

4. Bridgehead
750 Bank Street

This ubiquitous local chain has all the markings of a Starbucks in the making: convenient locations, excellent product and a comfortable setting. Naturally, the latte here is quite good. The real controversy is the new Bank Street location:  you could have hosted your Douglas Coupland book club and your stitch-and-bitch party in the cavernous Third Avenue location. The new place is only big enough for  intimate rendezvous.

5. Wild Oat
817 Bank Street

Our tasters thought that the latte at Wild Oat has a sweeter, milkier taste then the other places. I contend that this results from the virtue of the organic and vegetarian ingredients used in the other foods leaking into the cup. If you like a creamy latte that leans towards cafe au lait, this one is for you.

6. French Baker
801 Bank Street

Similar to Nicastro’s cup, but expensive!!!! The real advantage of this latte is the fact you can buy a croissant to go with it, but it won’t come cheap: two cresent rolls and two small lattes set us back $13.