By now, most of you faithful readers know that I gravitate toward local and non-chain places for coffee and well, food in general. I’ll make do with Caribou and Starbucks when necessity strikes, but my preferences lie elsewhere.
And I’m so grateful that the Twin Cities abounds with fabulous coffee shops! Since my November coffee shop post, I’ve checked out a few more places round Minneapolis and St Paul. Also since that November post, I found my new favorite coffee shop, which is included in the list below.
I found Sip as a result of a Google map search for coffee shops in NE Mpls. It’s tucked away in a charming brick building behind the beautiful, old Grain Belt Brewery building. They make their baked goods in house, as well as having an ample selection of sandwiches and daily soup specials.
Also, it’s uniquely decorated with splashes of color. Unique in a classy and good way. They’ve paid attention to design and have coordinated furniture — including some nice group seating arrangements with couches. Bonus, they haven’t sold out to the white, wood and metal aesthetic that a lot of the hipster coffee shops around the cities have moved toward (a la Spyhouse NE, Anelace or Quixotic Coffee). It’s charming, and I can usually find a place to sit and plug in my laptop. Also, they have Wi-Fi. Major bonus there.
So, we’ve talked food and decor. They also have fair trade coffee and a nice selection of in house coffee drinks in addition to the standard mocha and latte offerings. It gets hopping from folks from the local offices and businesses stopping in for lunch and meetings.
Spyhouse NE over at Broadway and Central in NE Minneapolis has the “Wow!” factor when you walk in. The space is gorgeous. The blend of form and function with the antiques and wood is nothing short of beautiful.
Seating can be difficult. In terms of coffee shops, it has one of the biggest seating areas that I’ve seen. There’s just tons of people who love the space – a bunch of whom are typing away on computers or studying.
I’ve gone multiple times, and every time it’s a struggle to find a place to sit. Space almost always opens up, but I usually get anxious about it. Also, the space that opens up is usually backless, hard stools — which is not super awesome if you’re looking for a space to camp out and work or chat for awhile.
That being said, I loved the coffee. I’ve gotten mochas and lattes; all of which were fabulous! And they also have some really interesting house specialties that are worth checking out. The coffee is so good that, for me, it’s occasionally worth the anxiety of finding a place to sit. If you’re into coffee dates (and I am — though J is not. Sad pandas for me. J loves coffee, but doesn’t get the whole hanging at at coffee shops thing. But, J does humor me on occasion.), it’s a super cute place for a date.
Tucked away in a NE Mpls neighborhood, Mojo Coffee Gallery wins as my new favorite coffee shop. Not because of the fanciness of the coffee, though I do enjoy their mochas.
It’s an awesome neighborhood coffee shop tucked in an artist studio warehouse. I enjoy the overall gestalt. It’s the whole package of vibe and community. The people sipping coffee or eating lunch are normal, regular folk. I feel comfy here. Probably because I feel good about myself here whether I’m wearing my yoga pants and a hat or whether my make-up is done and I look put together. Though I’ll be honest, I’m wearing a hat more often than not when I go here. That’s how I roll these days. Yoga pants, however, are normally just for yoga. I’m silly and self-conscious about wearing those in public; it sort of makes me feel like I’ve lost the will to live.
The artist community here is fabulous. On occasion, a potter throws ceramics on a wheel behind a plexiglass window. A massive display of mugs adorns the wall. A hodgepodge of tables and furniture of varying styles and heights are scattered throughout the large, light filled space. It’s charming.
I enjoy Mojo so much that I’ll even plan ahead to have my laptop charged before I go just in case a space near a power outlet isn’t open. Power outlets are at a premium, so planning ahead is crucial. And this is the only place that I like enough to make that concession. Added bonus: there’s a real deal parking lot, unlike many of the places I mentioned.
Dogwood Coffee Bar – East Lake
After checking out so many coffee shops round the Twin Cities, I felt a stop at Dogwood was necessary. Dogwood roasts their own beans, and there’s a bunch of other coffee shops around town that use Dogwood’s beans for their coffee.
The first time I went seating was easy to find, and I think that may have been a fluke. Folks know this place is scrumptious!
The next time I went, with Amy on our sister coffee date, we barely got the last table in the place. And I was glad Amy was there to ask the guy next to us if we could use the extra table that was squished up against his work space. I probably would’ve left if I’d been there by myself. I’m super shy.
There’s a bunch of little study booths in addition to small tables that could be smashed together for bigger groups and a bar counter with stools toward the back. They’ve crammed a bunch of seating into a small space.
Anyway, the bread and butter plate is a good deal and delightful. It’s simple, but, oh my goodness, the bread with the fruit in it was amazing! I expected to hate it, but found myself happily surprised. The butter was fabulous. All butter is not created equal, friends. Lesson learned after having Kerrygold butter in Ireland on J and I’s honeymoon. We were spoiled for regular ole butter by the time we came back. The butter on this plate was GOOD butter.
I’ve had both a mocha and a vanilla latte here, though not on the same visit.
I’m getting too old for that, and I like to sleep sometimes. Both beverages were fabulous and smooth. I’d be tempted to buy their beans at some point too. And that’s saying something: I’m pretty partial to the beans at J&S in St Paul; they’re amazing!
Groundswell is tucked in the Hamline Midway neighborhood of St Paul at the intersection of Hamline and Thomas.
Their vanilla latte might be my favorite coffee drink in all of the Twin Cities. Bar none. I crave it. Coffee drinks elsewhere are awesome, but this one takes the cake as my favorite.
Also, high praise from J: this is the only place I’ve taken him on a coffee date where he was willing and excited about the possibility of going back again for coffee. That never happens friends. He’s usually like, “It’s good, but I don’t need to go again. Ever. Unless they serve beer.”
They’ve got Wi-Fi, but it can be hard to find a spot next to an outlet if you’re there to work with your laptop. I’d venture to say that this might be worth planning ahead if you were so inclined, since it gets busy.
Last, talk of Groundswell is not complete without reference to their food. It is very good! Lots of coffee shops have mediocre food to round off their menu, but Groundswell takes food seriously. Their baked goods are incredible! For you gluten-free or vegan folks, Groundswell has loads of options for you.
Quixotic Coffee over in the Highland Park neighborhood of St Paul is a new discovery for me. A friend and I both went for the first time this week. We planned a coffee date and decided that we should check out a place that was new for both of us.Very glad we did!
Quixotic sources most of their ingredients locally: their beans are from Boostraps Roastery located in St Paul and the dairy for their coffee drinks comes from Autumnwood Farm.
Fair warnings: parking can be difficult, and St Paul is vigorous about enforcement, as evidenced by the multiple times I saw the parking enforcement vehicle. I recommend parking in the neighborhood on Pinehurst and walking around the corner; parking there is two hour instead of one hour.
The inside matches the hipster coffee trends — white subway tiles, lots of wood and simple metal work. Utilitarian chic with clean lines. They do have group space available. I want to bring J back for a date sometime when he’s up for an obligatory coffee date to make the wife happy.
And now for the coffee. My latte was superb and smooth. Vanilla undertones present without making the concoction overly sweet. I’d go back. And I’d be curious to try some of the house specialties next time.
This place gets super busy because people know it’s both tasty and an aesthetically pleasing place for meetings. Plus, there’s a few neighborhood residents who (at least from overhearing their conversation) like it well enough to stop in nearly daily for coffee and catching up with friends. So, know ahead of time that it might be difficult to find a space to chill. On the up side, guests seem courteous and tables seem to turn over faster than some other places.
This week I headed over to Golden Thyme Coffee over on Selby in St Paul. I’ve driven by it for years and been curious, but had never made it in before. They serve Peace Coffee (yay!); my sister would be pumped since that’s her fave.
Also, it’s the first time I’ve walked into a coffee shop and been the minority group. Total growth experience for me. And one I need to repeat more frequently. The coffee shop serves a diverse audience, and that’s a really cool thing! The diversity is also something I don’t see in a bunch of the coffee shops I’ve checked out.
Golden Thyme became another place I dig a lot, and for similar reasons as Mojo. It’s not fancy or pretentious (and really that’s awesome in and of itself). The community is awesome. People trickle in for conversation, and the staff seems to know everyone. Folks are laughing and cracking jokes. I’ve seen more hugs in 30 minutes here than I’ve seen probably all month. The warmth of the people is incredible. This is a meeting space and regular people congregate here.
They serve good coffee drinks with clever musical names — Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I ordered the Muddy Waters a dark mocha with almond and coconut. Yum! I’d get it again.
I’d already eaten lunch by the time I got here, so food wasn’t on my mind. However, Golden Thyme also has a selection of baked goods and sandwiches if you need food to go with your coffee.