Le Baobab

UPDATED MAY 19, 2009: If the commenter “Madmoiselle” speaks for the entire Baobab staff, I definitely feel the cons now outweigh the pros. After all, I’m not going to frequent a café where I feel unwelcome and uncomfortable. I find it really disappointing that after giving my honest opinion, the only thing that really sticks in people’s minds or matters in the end is the provincial attitude of French First. To be fair, I had been to the café quite a number of times after my original post in order to form a fuller opinion of the place, and had started to like going there for a latté with friends. I had even considered fully revising my post to reflect this, but based on Madmoiselle’s comment, I will no longer spend my money here.

I’m still debating whether or not I like Le Baobab, a little café (or “bar à café,” as they’re calling themselves) here in Verdun. I’ve made up a list of pros and cons:


  • Proximity to my apartment
  • Tasty lattés
  • Espresso drinks made with obvious care
  • Fair Trade coffee beans available for purchase (though, admittedly, I haven’t so far)
  • Apparently they have a bathroom where it’s safe to pee, which is good to know


  • Lattés are hella expensive (the small is $3.50, though I’m not sure if this is because they’re using Fair Trade espresso beans, in which case I’d be okay with the price)
  • When made to stay at the café, they serve their lattés in those horrible cone-shaped glasses with the teeny handle that is more likely to tip your drink over than allow you to lift it to your mouth and drink like a normal human being
  • Some of the employees speak absolutely no English, which can make communication difficult

Okay, so that last con is more of a problemo for my hubby, who has been sent out on latté-gathering missions during the past few days after we ran out of coffee, but still. It’s Verdun, dude. It’s not like there’s a shortage of Anglos in this ‘hood.

World's worst coffee mug design!

World's worst coffee mug design! (Apparently known as an "Irish Coffee Mug")

Still, you can see why I’m torn, right? Good coffee, shitty glass! When you like sugar (or Splenda) in your drink, it’s damn near impossible to add it without having the spoon’s insertion create a tsunami wave of java that drenches your (mismatched) saucer. This design is just bad form. I hate glass coffee mugs, period, but making them in a cone shape is just ridiculous. All the sugar sinks to the bottom, but your spoon is either not long enough to stir it or else too wide to get to most of it, which means most of it stays there instead of sugaring your drink. Brilliant.

For the love of all that is good and right with coffee, I wish there was some way to convince café owners to boycott this style of mug. It sucks, and I hate them, and I can’t be alone on this!

I know it sounds petty to diss a café because of their glassware, but let’s be honest: these things matter to coffee snobs, and there are plenty of cafés in this town that will gladly pander to the craziest of coffee drinkers’ whims. It’s not like we’re living in Newfoundland, where the choice is between this Tim Horton’s or that Tim Horton’s. There are two more cafés within easy walking distance of my house, so I’m likely to take my business elsewhere if things aren’t just right.

That being said, you can’t please all the people all the time, so will I still hit them up for a latté fix from time to time? Sure. Especially since they’re so close!

ADDRESS: 4800 Wellington (Verdun)
METRO: Verdun
PHONE: 514-509-1334


12 responses to “Le Baobab

  1. ACK!

    I agree on the glass.

    But seriously, if you want to live in Mtl and can’t order coffee in French, take a class! So sick of anglos complaining! I am anglo, and though I would be quite upset to not receive service in a hospital in English, a cafe run by people from France is a different matter.

    Take a friggin’ class!

  2. I’m not THAT hopeless; ordering coffee in French is a snap. However, I find it really hilarious that people think “taking a class” is going to remedy the problem. I’ve taken MANY a class, I’ve got high school French (Parisian) and took classes here in Montreal, but none of them have taught me the first thing about Quebecois “French.” Until I see a Quebecois French class offered somewhere, you “take a class” people should really rethink that advice.

    Also, how is wanting English service from a Montreal hospital any different than wanting English service from a café?!

  3. Madmoiselle

    Maybe because the first langage in Montreal, and in Québec is the french, maybe you should see law 101.
    I work there… I can speak english.. as you speak french.
    Je n’ai aucune obligation de parler anglais dans mon propre pays.
    Heureusement Verdun n’est pas Westmount, il faut faire des choix.

  4. Have you ever heard of the phrase “the customer is always right?” Customers should be spoken to in the language THEY choose. But hey, you aren’t under any obligation to speak English to me. Similarly, I am under no obligation to return to your café. Is being right more important than keeping loyal customers? You decide.

  5. Madmoiselle – You have no obligation to speak English??
    Give me a break – you’ve admitted to being able to speak it but you choose not to – yet you work in the service industry??
    Wow – nice.

    My money is going elsewhere too – (I frequent the cafe twice a week) and I’ll make sure my friends who also use it are aware of your thoughts on the subject.

    Canada is bilingual. Verdun is in Canada. When I’m at work I’m expected to be able to speak both – and I do. I don’t even work in the service industry!!

    I’ve also stopped frequenting Cafe Nu Art fro this very reason. The waitress and the twit who serves the coffee can’t speak a word of English between them.

    Welcome to Canada.

  6. Is this really about speaking either the English or French language or about common courtesy? I have traveled a bit, and yes my Bill 101 encouraged French has helped, but in those instances where I could not speak the local lingo, gestures and smiles usually got me through. The only places where this failed were in Venice and Paris… Aha! perhaps this cafe is going for a true European feel by implying customers who don’t speak, in this instance, French are uncultured?

    I guess the prices also give it that “euro” edge $3.50 for a latte?! What next 3$ for biscotti? Fortunately, Montreal offers many fabulous cafes – some even in Westmount – where you can get a decent latte for a decent price. I recently enjoyed a delicious latte, in a regular mug, for $2.50 at Le Depanneur of Mile End.

    Though, that being said, I haven’t been to Paris in awhile… I think I will swing by Le Baobab for some old world French snobbism. Perhaps if I insist on speaking English, I won’t even be served. It would be like a free trip to the City of Lights!


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  8. Former Verdunner

    Dear Verduner:

    Some Anglo you are, telling another Anglo to “take a friggin’ class”! And FYI, I was refused English service at the Verdun hospital two years ago. Not only was I refused service in English, but I was also insulted by a French-speaking lab technician who, instead of taking a friggin English class, told me (in French) not to get any of my Anglo piss on his tray (I had to provide a urine sample).

    Chère Mademoiselle:

    Ton propre pays est le mien aussi, et ici au Canada nous parlons le français et l’anglais. Vive le CANADA.

    PS: Maybe you should read English Grammar 101.

    En tout cas….

    I used to hang out at the Bao every week–loved the café’s chocolatines and strawberry-mango smoothies! Now I live far, far away. In a land where people admire my bilingualism rather than criticize it just because my last name isn’t “Turgeon”.

  9. I am also an anglo living in Verdun. I have only been in Le Baobab once (not a big coffee drinker) and don’t really have an opinion one way or the other, besides the fact that it’s nice to see an independent coffee shop. However, I always speak French in my interactions with retail staff. I do not want to come across as a pushy anglo. If it turns out that the staff member is actually comfortable in English, then great. Otherwise, I’ll stick to French. I am very aware of all the politics and history, and I don’t want to be a pushy imperialist oppressive anglo (not saying you are one — just that’s how it can come across). That being said, if I were opening a retail establishment in Verdun (where 20% of the population are anglophone), I’d definitely only hire employees who were comfortable in both languages.

  10. café coffee
    latte latte
    sandwich sandwich
    sucre sugar
    crème cream

    This is minimal neuron use, Frenchies and Anglos. No need to take a class if both share a brain cell.
    What is the world coming to?

  11. My way, your way, man… these linguistic debates have eroded even the most tolerant spectator’s ability to cope with trivial bullshit.

    Everyone has SO many rights these days, too bad we’re all brought up to demand them, instead of being intelligently and compassionately accommodating.

    If you go to Barcelona, in a restaurant, the wait staff might speak English, or they might not. They might speak Spanish, Catalan or even French, or they might not (though at least 1 of the 4 is a pretty safe bet). What do you do? You don’t argue about rights or principles, you find a way to communicate, you try really hard, you learn something and you grow as an individual. Or you don’t.

    …sorry, I had to get that out. Now it’s coffee time 😉

  12. Bravo Bernard!

    That’s not about being Canadian or Nationaliste Québécois. It’s about human beings communicating! Personnally, I like when I cant communicate well with someone because of the language. It stimulates imagination to find ways of getting the message delivered. Humor needed of course.

    Very good blog by the way 🙂