There’s no better way to experience a place than by living like a local. Discover cool coffee shops, live music venues, and secret beaches with tips from locals who make Halifax an amazing place to live and visit. Each of these Haligonians are passionate about this place, and have a story to tell. Get to know them and experience Halifax like a local.
Riaz Oozeer: Halifax's Coffee Scene
I have two simple passions: coffee and photography. I worked as a barista for many years before becoming a full-time photographer, and in many ways, these passions have become closely intertwined.
For me, a good cup of coffee every day is a must. Like many of us, my day starts with a coffee brewed at home, but I’ve grown to love my tradition of getting out of the house to a local café for my second cup of the day. Getting to that second coffee is a milestone in my day. It means that I’ve earned it after a good photo walk and a morning’s work. Stopping in at my neighbourhood café gives me time to take a moment and enjoy.
Throughout the years of walking the streets of Halifax, I’ve developed a few favourite local coffee shops. Compared to other major cities that have a bunch of very similar coffee shops all in one place, I find that Halifax offers something rather different. Every coffee shop has its own charm. They are all quite different from each other and it’s just about finding the one that fits your vibe.
Here are just a few of my favourites. They all have stellar coffee and wonderful staff, but each has something that makes them special. Don’t be afraid to scout out your own favourites though. The coffee scene in Halifax is ever growing with local roasters and a wide variety of shops to choose from.
Weird Harbour Espresso Bar
Weird Harbour was my first coffee experience when I moved to Halifax. That day, my partner and I walked from Point Pleasant Park in the South End, all the way to the North End of Halifax. It’s a long walk but we were so excited to explore our new home. Three years later, we continue to regularly take long walks across the city, and Weird Harbour is still a favourite spot for a quick refuel.
One of the many great things about Weird Harbour is the opportunity to sit and sip your coffee – in my case an oat cortado – right in the heart of downtown Halifax. You can watch the activity of Barrington Street through the large windows. In the winter, it’s a cozy spot to warm up with a seat by the window and people-watch, and in the summertime, you can sit on the bench outside and enjoy being part of the city. Weird Harbour is small and it isn’t the kind of coffee shop where you linger and lounge around, but it’s a great little spot for a quick break on a walk to stop and take in the energy of downtown Halifax. Sitting outside on a summer day with an iced drink after a long walk around the city is priceless.
Apartment 3 Espresso Bar
Apartment 3 recently opened their second location in downtown Halifax, and it has already become one of my go-to cafés. This spot is one of the best places in the city for a late-in-the-day coffee.
I like to work during low-light hours, and I love stopping in at Apartment 3 for a quick coffee before heading out to take photos in the evening. Most coffee shops in Halifax close early, and until recently I had been looking for a great place for an afternoon pick-me-up.
The new Apartment 3 location is just off Spring Garden Road, which is the perfect place for a sunset photo walk. If you’re a coffee-after-workout type, check out Queensberry Rules Boxing Studio, a cool boxing gym that shares the space with Apartment 3.
Besides the delicious food and cozy vibe, coffee geeks (like me) will love Café GoodLuck for the specialty coffee. The baristas are incredible, and they offer what I think is the highest calibre coffee program in the city. My go-to oat cortado is not an easy drink to perfect, and I have never been disappointed at Café GoodLuck. If you aren’t an espresso-lover, the filter coffee is great too. Café GoodLuck has freshly baked goodies on the menu daily, as well as a little food market for pantry staples.
For a perfect Sunday morning, head to Café GoodLuck and order the breakfast sandwich with a filter coffee. You’ll be fueled up for a heavenly walk down Portland Street to check out the Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market.
Coffee means something different to everyone. For some, it’s a ritual, and for others, it’s the boost that gets you through the day. For me, it’s a bit of both, but what I really love is the coffee shop experience. Coffee shops are a place where worlds collide, and people unite around something common and simple.
I could have chosen any number of incredible coffee shops to talk about my love for Halifax’s growing coffee scene, but this is your opportunity to get out and explore for yourself. I’m confident that you will find that perfect coffee shop – or maybe a few – that will make you feel right at home.
Riaz Oozeer (he/him)
Riaz is a Mauritius-born lifestyle and documentary photographer now based in Halifax. He believes that the most meaningful images are those that capture special moments in the everyday. His ability to capture these moments and tell their stories shines through in his photography, no matter the subject.