Everybody knows that Monkland Village is where NDG's hip (and not so hip) congregate. It comes to no surprise that it is also home to a Second Cup and a Starbucks. Sure, these two are good study spots with plenty of space and cookie-cutter, predictable layouts, with staff that make it a point to regularly misspell your name on your run-of-the-mill latté. Sigh.
I’m of the opinion that if you're going to spend that kind of money on coffee and pastries you might as well get something that is of superior quality. Who’s with me? My prayers and the prayers of every coffee lover in the hood were answered in the summer of 2013 in the charming form of a small and cozy café called Melk.
So, what is Melk? Melk is the smell of freshly baked treats and meticulously prepared coffee from Detour and 49th Parallel. Being the closest café to my place, Melk is my go-to not only in the summer when I don't feel like cycling to downtown, but also in the winter when polar vortices make it a pain in the butt to go anywhere farther.
In the past couple of times I visited Melk, I had the chance to try out two different coffees, both espressos. The Old School from 49th, a Guatemalan and Ethiopian blend, is a well-balanced espresso with a silky smooth texture and hints of chocolate and molasses. The single origin Finca El Majahual, also from 49th, is a full body espresso with hints of nuts. It is sweet but has a bitterness at the end that balances out the cup. Just the way I like it.
As previously mentioned, the air in the tiny shop is thick with the day's baking and coffee-making. This may or may not be the case because of the size (winter-time seating is limited to 14 seats at best). If I were to find a flaw at Melk, this would be it: the size is exclusive and restrictive at times. Fortunately, Melk's seating more than doubles in the summer with its terrace. You can sit and sip your tasty coffee while looking down on Monkland or squeeze in with a bunch of your friends at a picnic table at street level.
Regardless, your nose-buds will be in a state of bliss! Melk bakes all of its concoctions in-house Scones, muffins, crumbles, banana bread - you'll find it all, even a gluten-free option if that's what you need. Your canine friend is not forgotten either as the folks at Melk also have homemade dog treats for sale. If Melk’s very own goodies don't satisfy your sweet tooth then treat yourself to a doughnut from Trou de Beigne on weekends!
Melk is exactly what NDG needed and I'm happy that I can now get a nice cup of coffee close to home. Now if only they could take over their neighbours' space: I would be ever so grateful to go in and not have to worry about going back to where I came from for lack of work space.