Coffee Geek Oases in the Twin Cities
Kate and I made a list over on vita.mn because we wanted to win an iPad, but it was frustrating to put a bunch of thought into the list and then have to reduce it to just names of businesses. Maybe thinking was our mistake.
We haven’t been here very long, so we haven’t been everywhere, and we’ve only been to some of these places once or twice. But what would the Internet be without poorly researched opinions? Here’s the list with our notes:
- Black Sheep Coffee Cafe, despite the redundant name. We don’t get there much because it’s way out in South St. Paul, but every time we go the coffee is tasty and the staff is knowledgeable and enthusiastic and they will talk to Kate for hours about the nuances. And the first time we went there they had a single-origin robusta, which nobody does. It was daring! Also, they blend their own chai, like 15 kinds. And they have a sweet Synesso, and it lights up.
- Quixotic Coffee is the first place Erik ever voluntarily drank a cup of coffee black. (It was decaf, which is a great sign — we think the way a café treats its decaf says a lot about their commitment to coffee as cuisine, not just a stimulant. Also, Erik can’t handle caffeine.) They have five or six single-origin coffees of varied terroir and geographical range from MadCap Coffee in Grand Rapids. They have at least one dedicated cupping space, and they’re invested in working with you to find flavor profiles you like and the coffees that match them.
- Dogwood Coffee split off from Bull Run last year so they could focus more on quality and specialty coffees. They do their own sourcing and roasting, everybody is super-nice, and they competed this year at the regional barista championship in Chicago. They treat decaf with respect but (sadly for Erik) not with esteem. Fantastic milk texture in their cappuccinos, though.
- Kopplin’s Coffee made a great first impression — Andrew Kopplin is a mad scientist of espresso, with years of sinister experiment behind him. Also single-origin chocolate is a great idea. But they hate decaf, and recent visits have been less exciting.
- Rustica Bakery is a fantastic bakery, but they also have highly trained baristas serving Dogwood Coffee. They usually have three or four single-origins on hand and they don’t seem to do blends. This is where Erik had his single best cup of coffee since moving to Minneapolis. We can’t tell you about their espresso; we’ve never had it, because we like the coffee so much. They make it on a Clover, and it is awesome.
- Bull Run Coffee Bar is pretty new (they essentially have no web site) and Kate (our taste expert) hasn’t been there yet, but Erik had a delicious mocha and coffee after Open Streets last weekend, and they have a bunch of cool specialty drinks. And a typewriter.
- Peace Coffee makes a real tasty cup of coffee. It’s not as coffee-geeky as some of these places, but it’s a community place that welcomes the geek. Also when we were there they had coffee-pie pairings. Good idea, Peace Coffee.
- Angry Catfish serves Intelligentsia espresso, which is consistently not as good as we’ve heard, bitter and a little ashy. It has a high coffee snob factor, but not in a good way (and they gave Kate lip when she tried to talk to them about decaf). It is the best coffee you can get while buying a bike, though.
- Dunn Bros Coffee Lab is another place Kate’s never been. It’s Dunn Brothers, right, which means it’s a big chain, but this is the place where they try new things — new techniques, new machines, and this is the place where you can try all their coffees at once. It’s an interesting experiment for a big coffee company.
- Spyhouse has Verve Coffee from our beloved Santa Cruz, as well as guest coffees from different roasters, and fancy chocolate from we forget where. They’ve put a bunch of effort into upgrading their coffee and training their staff, and they’re clearly going for the coffee geek vibe, but the actual drinks we’ve had have ranged from mediocre to spectacularly bad. Really. Nice couch, though. Kate says she had a cappuccino that was okay, but Erik disagrees.
It’s a pretty good scene. Pour-overs seem to be the default, but most of them will do a French press if you ask. We see a lot of La Marzoccos and Synessos. Everybody has a miel, a latte with cinnamon and honey, which we hadn’t seen on the west coast. And, frustratingly, the only place you can get a decaf iced coffee is Caribou. (Update: 2nd Moon.)
Where else should we go? (And who should we give another try?)
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- adambez answered: Urbanbean is a nice spot.
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