Student Life

Is Columbus Café & Co Montreal’s newest go-to study café?

Montreal’s café scene welcomes a newcomer—or rather, seven of them. Many may recognize the Columbus Café & Co yellow grizzly bear logo that seems to have suddenly popped up on street corners across downtown and the Plateau within the past year. 

The brand launched in France in 1994, becoming a pioneer in the French Coffee shop business. Since then, it has expanded to hold over 200 locations in France, Belgium, and now, North America. 

After opening their first North American location on Mont-Royal Avenue, the brand has been rapidly expanding across Montreal, and now has seven franchises along the city’s busiest commercial centres. With so many locations, I figured that there must be something special about this French coffee chain, so I popped into a few to try some food and drink, and to check out the overall vibes.


The overall food and drink selection is solid enough to fuel a study session or a quick snack break, but not impressive enough to seek out on its own.

On my first visit to the Robert Bourassa location, I ordered a “maxi” sized latte and a Cajun chicken sandwich before sitting down with a friend to study. The latte was a great deal for its size at around six dollars, and it was probably the largest latte I’d ever seen. The espresso was smooth and slightly bitter, with hints of citrus. Plenty of milk and milk alternative options were available upon demand.

The Cajun sandwich, on the other hand, was not as impressive. Despite looking and smelling amazing, with spiced chicken breast, sun dried tomatoes, and aioli, the sandwich was quite dry, likely because it was pre-made and reheated upon ordering.

At the St. Catherine’s location, I ordered a passionfruit and ginger iced tea and a heart cookie. The tea was amazingly refreshing, an exciting combination of both sugar and spice. The chocolate and peanut butter cookie was a nice balance to the tea, though it didn’t last long on my plate.

Next time I go, I’ll definitely try their cheesecake—it looked so decadent on display!

One of the Café’s specialties are its pastries and muffins, which are baked daily behind the bar, distinguishing it from other cafés that outsource their pastry making. Columbus also boasts a decent variety of pre-made sandwiches and wraps. The overall selection is very similar to the wide assortment at Milton B and the prices are pretty much on par with the famous Milton-Parc study spot.


The Columbus Café & Co locations are very much work-oriented cafés. The high-ceilinged, spacious interiors are lined with many tables, booths, and high-tops. The music is soft and inobtrusive, and the overall noise level is pretty low for a café.

I was pleased to find outlets near most tables, as computer charging is often the limiting factor in long café work sessions. Against the grain of cafés that only remain open until the late afternoon, the hours are generous, open at the Robert-Bourassa location from 7-9 p.m. on weekdays and 9-7 p.m. on weekends.


The brand has lofty goals to expand within its Canadian markets. On Oct. 17, the company’s Canadian sector announced a partnership with Indigo Books & Music Inc. Customers can expect to see the coffee chain in the beloved Canadian bookstore within this year.

The New Go-To?

At less than a five-minute walk from the downtown campus, the Robert-Bourassa location is often full of McGill students studying or collaborating on group projects. This comes as no surprise; Columbus’ vibes are very conducive to schoolwork and will prove to be a trusty change of scene from the library, especially as we near finals season.

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