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What is the big deal with the Java U Cafes
Everyone is always bragging about them, but I think they suck.

I have been to the one on Queen Mary, Guy and today in Old Montreal.

While the places are stylish, the coffee and food is horrible.

Today they served me the worst Cappuccino coffee and the waiter had the nerve to tell me "Look how beautiful the foam is" "I am a artist" "I hope you appreciate it it took me 15 mins to make"

I wanted to tell him look is good, but nothing if it doesn't taste good.

Then I went to the bathroom and they had the storage door open and boxes of glasses laying all on the floor next to the urinals.

Very weird.

Anyone else ever had such experiences and in your view where are the best places for a great Capp or Espresso?

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  1. These days, debate as to the best espresso-based drinks usually centres on Caffè ArtJava (www.caffeartjava.com), Caffè Italia (6840 St-Laurent in Little Italy) and Café Olympico aka Open Da Night (124 St-Viateur West). All three pull excellent shots, though ArtJava excels in milk-based drinks.

    2 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      I have had good experiences with Java U in the past, but stopped in at Art Java a few weeks ago (without having heard the hype - so no expectations) and had an absolutley fantastic coffee. Will return soon to sample the menu - any suggestions?

      1. re: Sam

        ummm.... sam, requesting menu ref for a cafe sounds a bit..over the top even for a mvd like artjava. good cupajava but definitely not a destination for delectable food self serve only take a number wait and (depending on time of day) wait (people front of me perusing menu and yes single cash only)and wait but patient me holding plastified number this is important as found out later cause they then bring food to your numbered table (yes that number). what i did end up with looked and tasted remarkably identical to javau sandwiches..hmmm would this be an irony or coincidence if same caterer serviced both locations. and yes the little appleshapedfoam thingy drawn on top of my latte made the 40min(17min wait 13min eat) elapsed lunch entirely worthwhile.(i think..

    2. java u is the perfect example hampsted/CSL/the West Island's complete lack of taste and refinement despite their pretentious tastes for upscale prefab garbage

      1. It's so funny you should mention this because I'm a student at Concordia University, where we have a Java U in the main building. The atmosphere is pretty much created by laid back students, which is okay. But I always wonder how anyone, especially poor students,can afford the waaaay overpriced food!

        Also, has anyone been to the Westmount Java U, where at night it becomes a fancy restaurant? So you can't go in to sit for coffee past like 5pm. It's ridiculous!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kristin

          Which tells me you like it.....which is perfectly fine. Old Montreal JU turned into a nightclub at night but I was too busy elsewhere to ever go back and see it. As frustrated said, he/she likes it too just has some gripes. For me, being in Montreal is like stepping out of the desert and into an oasis, so maybe I'm less critical of things because of that. Except pizza, Monteal has awful pizza, but most pizza anywhere is awful until you find the few local good ones.

        2. sure they are nice im mean i've been going to the one queen mary since it opened but if u want my opinion its the management that is bringing it down. I find that the people they hire are unacceptable. i had a server tell me "that im gonna take my time to do it just because you are rushed" how more obnoxious can a person be. Management should take care of their clients and treat them right if they dont want to lose customers. Apart from that the atmosphere is great but the food is overpriced so go there if u wanna treat yourself

          1. Java U may not be good for anything but atmosphere, but that is good enough for me. The sandwich I had wasn't great either, but i enjoyed the stone and the atmosphere at the one in Old Montreal, didn't get to see the others, I was too busy on my weekend trips checking everything else out. Been years (2005) since I was last in town. Historical stone/cement has personality, whereas modern buildings are ok if constructed well, but lacking that beautiful feeling of history and grandeur you experience in a wonderful old relic.

            1. Terrible chain. Makes you wonder how they survive competing against the likes of Second Cup and Starbucks on the one hand, and against all the third wave indie cafes on the other.

              Best places for a good espresso/capuccino IMO:

              For traditional italian cap: Olimpico, Caffe Italia, Cafe Prague and Lili&Oli.

              For third wave: Myriade, Caffe in Gamba, Flocon, Tunnel.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Siumaieater

                it survives simply b ecause it's there
                if any should close first its cafe depot

                1. re: frogsteak

                  ... or Café Suprême, Presse Café and the ever dusty Van Houtte for that matter

                  1. re: Siumaieater

                    they all utter shit but, in my opinion, java u is a cut above those chains. not by much, but they are.

              2. I never thought there were a great deal to do with Java U before you mentionned it to be honest.

                Obs mentions that it might be a west island thing and it might make sense because I'm very far from the anglophone mcgil/concordia crowd (being a 30ish year old UQAM alumni).

                For me, Java U is a pretty generic 2nd wave coffee shop. I put them together with Starbucks, Café Suprème, Presse Café, Toi & Moi Café and Van Houtte, one rung below Second Cup and two rung below Aux Deux Maries and Brulerie St-Denis.

                Now its a very personnal classification based on the fact that I prefer a brown south american blend over a dark african blend and I like my coffees very fruity and acid so I can have a hard time when the standard offerings seem to be targetted to a very specific palette that is the complete opposite of my perfect coffee (I can make due with the Paradiso Brun at Second Cup but my perfect cup will probably be found at the brulerie).

                If you are looking for a Cappucino I recommend you look at the third wave offerings.If you are confused about that damned "wave thing" you can look at that article:


                Basically, for me:

                The first wave is the prototypical "good ol cup of joe" at your average diner and is probably best represented by our Tim Hortons and Dunkin Donuts. At best you'll be asked if you like your coffee "bold" or "mild"

                The second wave came in with Starbucks in the states and Second Cup in Canada with Montréal having some local variants like Aux Deux Maries and La Brulerie St-Denis. You'll usually have two information in hand when you order your coffee: the blend [usually the provenance of the bean but it could be a mix] and the roast [brown to black]. I learned most about coffee at one of these places because they used to change the "coffee of the day" every day so I would take note on the "wow moments". Plus the waitresses were very, very cute.

                Third wave coffee appeared 5-10 years ago and is focused on european variants, optimal preparations techniques, specific blending and alternative "drip" methods (you'll see your drip coffee replace by a "Chemex" preparation for example), If second wave roasters were the coffee answer to sommeliers, the third wave specialist are a hipster version of mixologists.

                Good third wave places: Café Saint-Henri, Myriade, Flocon, Le couteau, Névé.These will probably produce your best cappucino. I am a drip coffee drinker but when I want a great expresso I go to these places (and then I regret not taking another double expresso and I have to contain myself because I know drinking expressos at the rate I would enjoy would lead to a very pleasant but very early death.)

                4 Replies
                1. re: CaptCrunch

                  Those "waves" omit the cafés of specific waves of immigration. Here, of course Italian and later Portuguese, but also the Hungarian and other Central European cafés in the western part of the city centre. Where there were also divine cakes...

                  I like Brûlerie St-Denis, and am very glad to have that at the airport, but still I'm fonder of some of the Italian cafés just down the street. But you have to like their house blend (my favourite in the neighbourhood is Caffè San-Simeon).

                  Actually espresso contains less caffeine than drip coffee (I hate drip coffee, but would be open to new ways of preparing it that don't make it either dishwatery or horribly bitter).

                  1. re: lagatta

                    No, I agree its not a perfect classification but the coffee map changes geographically (the first time I went to london there was little to no presence of drip coffee apart from Starbucks).

                    The three "wave" classification reflects my reality although it tends to forget that we already had good expresso shops in our market (from the italian community among other things).

                    That being said, I prefer 3rd wave expresso to Italian espressos by a loong shot (but that's just me... :))

                      1. re: C70

                        Ha! I guess expresso is the french way of saying it.

                        Also forgot to answer lagatta on his last comment:

                        I'm pretty sure its not less caffeine per volume. I would actually be one of the rare individual to potentially enjoy a 20 ounce jug of espresso. I'm a high volume consumer and would rather always have the flavor of coffee available in a reduced fashion than have this intense experience and have a *really* bad day afterwards :D

                2. I used to like the Java U on Sherbrooke (Westmount), not for the coffee, but for some of the sandwiches and they used to make a heck of a good french fries.

                  But things changed ...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Maximilien

                    it's true. they had good fries and pretty good salads as well. but the quality has gone down while the prices have gone up. now it is absurdly expensive.

                    1. re: frogsteak

                      I understand the Java U in the Hall building at Concordia is going to be replaced in the next year when their lease is up.

                  2. There is a time when it was a step above other chains. Java U had quality sandwiches & snacks, a nice vibe and good coffee. Some years ago, not sure exactly when or why why, but they changed the quality of their products. and it hasn't been the same ever since. I remember when I noticed, I was at the old Montreal St-Paul street location (the one that has closed, so a few years ago), and ordered one of my regular sandwich, but they had changed the recipe. I let them know the new version was nowhere near as good, but they haven't changed it yet.

                    It's a shame but that's it. Now, it's on the level of the lowest of the coffee chains, when it used to be a cut above.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sweettoothMTL

                      When I studied at Concordia, I was a heavy purchaser (no pun intended) of brownies at the Guy St. location. They used to be amazing -- super moist.

                      Now, I look at the brownies there (or at any other branch) and they look pathetic, not appealing. The last time I bought one, it was quite dry. I thought "I can make better brownies at home." :(

                      1. re: rwarren

                        I also used to make a detour to get their brownie at Concordia, they were not wrapped, just piled up in a tower, then they started to wrap them individually in saran and they are just too wet.