Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Canada

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Welcome to Canada, with its vast expanse of pristine wilderness, awe-inspiring mountains, and sparkling coastlines. If you’re a coffee lover and an expat in Canada, you’re in for a treat as Canada has a unique coffee culture. From locally grown beans to signature coffee house experiences, coffee plays a significant role in daily life and social interactions. We have crafted this guide for you, the expat, to embrace coffee traditions in style.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Canada’s coffee culture may surprise some, given its perceived status as a frigid, northern and cold place. However, Canada is more than just the second-largest country in the world; it’s also a major coffee producer. Although its coffee production is modest when compared to the likes of Brazil and Colombia, Canada boasts of a diverse array of coffee varieties grown in the southern regions of Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.

Commonly grown coffee varieties in Canada include Arabica, Canephora, and Excelsa coffee. Arabica coffee production (Coffea arabica) is the most popular due to its high-quality taste and low acid content. Some of the best Arabica coffee varieties originate from Central and South America, where they are imported and cultivated in Canada's western provinces.

Canephora Coffee (Coffea Canaphora), also known as robusta, is predominantly grown in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kenya. Although not as highly regarded as arabica coffee, Canephora has a distinctive taste and provides a rich aroma. It grows in warmer regions such as British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Finally, Excelsa Coffee (Coffea Excelsa), also known as the chocolate or brown bean, is commonly found in Southeast Asia and Central America. It’s cultivated in Canada’s British Columbia wine valley, offering a similar aroma to that of dark chocolate.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Now that you have a better understanding of Canada's coffee origins and production, it's time to explore its diverse array of coffee-style drinks. Canadians enjoy a wide range of flavors and brewing styles, from timeless favorites to modern interpretations.

Let's begin with one of the most popular brewing styles in Canada: French Press Coffee (Cafetière à pression) or filtered drip coffee. Known for its bold, rich flavor, French Press Coffee consists of ground coffee beans steeped in boiling water for several minutes until rich aromas fill the air. It's then pressed down with a plunger, separating the brewed coffee from the grounds.

Another popular brewing style is the Pour Over method. This technique involves slowly pouring hot water over coarsely ground coffee beans, placed inside a filter paper or a pour-over device called Chemex, V60, or Hario V60. The coffee melts away through the filtering paper, leaving behind a clean, bright flavor that is unique to the Pour-Over coffee style.

For expats who prefer something morish and indulgent, Irish Coffee should be part of your coffee repertoire. Made with a shot of Irish whiskey, Irish coffee is essentially French press coffee laced in Irish whiskey, topped with a thick, whipped layer of cream. The result is a smooth, velvety, and creamy drink that allows you to linger over each sip in a state of relaxing comfort.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee is not only a beverage but a unique cultural experience for Canadians. There are certain customs and traditions revolving around coffee that are essential to know if you are an expat. Canadians relish their coffee in the morning, served with a light breakfast such as croissants, muffins, or scones in quiet, sophisticated coffee shops.

In Canada, it is indispensable to have coffee etiquette when in company. It's neither acceptable nor polite to fix or refill coffee without the approval of all those seated at the table.

Leisurely coffee culture is a significant aspect of Canadian coffee culture. Relaxing and unwinding with a mug of coffee while chatting with friends, playing board games, or reading a newspaper is the epitome of comfort and socialization.

Recommendations for Expat-friendly Coffee Shops and Cultural Experiences

For an immersive cultural experience of Canadian coffee, we have put together a couple of expat-friendly coffee shops for your exploration. These cafes offer popular brewing styles, signature beverages, and an ambiance that reflects Canada's coffee culture.

Firstly, we recommend Ace Coffee, located in Montréal, Québec. It's a popular specialty coffee shop, known for its premium single-origin beans, sourced from diverse regions worldwide, and brewed using a Pour-Over method. The cafe's interior is designed to be comfortable and cozy, with wooden furniture, and quirky decorative items.

Secondly, we recommend Revolver Coffee, situated in Vancouver, British Columbia. It's a unique coffee culture dabble, that houses a coffee roasting factory, Coffee Roastery, bar, and an outdoor dining area. The cafe is known for its inventive fusion menu, roasting everything from single origin coffee beans to tea leaves. The place is also excellent for expats looking to explore coffee plantations and farms, as the Revolver Coffee Roastery conducts tours, coffee tastings, and educational sessions for visitors.


Canadian coffee culture thrives on its distinct brewing styles, regional flavors, and social customs. As an expat, it's essential to appreciate and respect these cultural nuances. By embracing Canada's coffee traditions, you'll be in a better position to connect with locals, immerse yourself in the community, and share the wonderful experience of coffee culture with others.

Coffee isn't just a beverage but a unique cultural experience that brings people together, breaking down cultural barriers, and building social connections. We hope this guide has introduced you to Canada's coffee culture, sparked your interest in exploring its coffee traditions, and provided insights that will help you become an integral part of the community.