Four cafés in downtown Prince George to warm you up this winter

Whether you're looking for a meeting place, a shelter from the cold, or just a warm drink, here are some cafes to check out in Downtown Prince George.

Ritual Coffee Bar on 3rd Avenue is one of many local, independent cafés in Prince George. Jack Moulton/Prince George Post

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This winter certainly has been a doozy, even just in the past couple weeks. Between several snowfall warnings, and an arctic outflow that blanketed much of the country in severe cold, folks in Prince George have certainly been indulging in that great Canadian tradition of frequently checking Environment Canada.

Whether you’re walking through the downtown core in stinging cold or intense snowfall, here are a few places you can hang up your toque and have a warm drink.

Ritual Coffee Bar

Situated across the street from the courthouse on 3rd Avenue is the Ritual Coffee Bar, otherwise known as Ritual Coffeeworks.

Upon walking into the café, one of its defining features is its minimalist style. Black and white walls, exposed ventilation pipes on the ceiling, hanging ceiling lights, and light-coloured wood tables with black chairs. It even had a chalkboard menu before upgrading to electronic screens.

Those who are picky about their coffee will likely enjoy a visit to Ritual, at least according to Google reviewers, who rave about the quality. Ritual also carries breakfast items and baked goods with vegan options, as well as brunch menu that was launched just over a year ago.

Ritual is also unique among the downtown core cafés in that it sells its own branded merchandise.

Zoe’s Java House

Tucked away in Plaza 4 on 4th Avenue between Quebec Street and Dominion Street is Zoe’s Java House, the café with the most Google reviews and narrowly the second most highly rated café in downtown Prince George.

Zoe’s has a slightly more vibrant interior, with maroon painted walls, a blackboard menu, wood finishes and more places to sit, including lounge seating with couches. It is noticeably the largest and most spacious café in downtown PG for seating arrangements, which proves to be beneficial during pandemic times.

The menu consists of the hot beverage staples of a café, and includes sandwiches and baked goods. Both the sandwiches and baked goods are the main focus of most customers’ raving Google reviews. The baked goods are typically on the larger side too, so be sure to come hungry!

Ristretto Coffee House

Located on the main artery of Victoria Street is the Ristretto Coffee House. The café is within walking distance of several high-rise office buildings in downtown Prince George.

Both in size and design, the café is quite close to something along the lines of a Starbucks or Second Cup. However, Ristretto sets itself apart by embracing the esthetic of the coffee belt. A world map with the coffee belt and major coffee exporting countries highlighted, and coffee-related ads from Latin America make up the décor of the café. This excludes the focal point of the café, which is a full-size coffee roaster from American-based industrial equipment company Mill City Roasters.

As with the other cafés, Ristretto has a healthy selection of breakfast and sandwich items in addition to soups, salads and baked goods. Of course, it also has a variety of hot beverage options as well at a modest price. Ristretto sets itself apart from the others, however, through roasting their own coffee beans, with promises from the owner on Google of group cupping sessions.

The Makerie Craft and Coffee Bar

Last but not least is the most highly rated café in downtown Prince George, The Makerie. However, The Makerie has something that sets it apart from other cafés in Prince George. While it serves a very wide selection of coffees, teas, specialty drinks and a smaller selection of in-store baked goods, this is not the primary function of the establishment.

The “Craft” in “Craft and Coffee Bar” does not refer to crafted coffee, it refers to arts and crafts. Customers can drop in and order a coffee and then sit down and select from a batch of different craft projects to tackle themselves, using instructions and materials found in store. In addition to crafting tables, The Makerie also offers community events that involve painting sessions and other specialty workshops.

In addition to the rotating community events and crafting toolkits, The Makerie also has a patio and allows for booking of the café for events.

The Makerie also participates in the Huskee Swap program, an initiative aimed at reducing takeaway cup waste by exchanging Huskee cups — reusable cups made of recycled waste from coffee production — between individuals and participating cafés. Individuals must purchase a Huskee mug and bring it into a participating café to be able to exchange for your coffee order in a different, commercially sanitized cup.

While the Makerie has perhaps some of the most steep prices for hot beverages between the downtown cafés, it craftily offers more to customers.