Showing posts with label MN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MN. Show all posts

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Twenty Below Coffee Co

Subject: Twenty Below Coffee Co
Location visited: Fargo, ND
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Driving through Fargo in the afternoon one balmy Wednesday, I was eager to find a good cup of coffee to help fuel me onto my sleeping destination in eastern Minnesota. After a brief search for parking, I found myself on the steps of a Fargo area gem, Twenty Below Coffee Co. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mugged: Ethiopia [Driven]

Subject: Driven Coffee Roasters
Coffee Mugged: Ethiopia Sidamo
Rating [see key]: 4+

It's hard to get a definitive pulse on a roaster by only trying one of their coffees, so when opportunity arises to try a different coffee from a new-to-me roaster, I tend to jump on it. Recently, I jumped at an opportunity to take a second crack at Driven Coffee Roasters out of Minneapolis. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

CC: Angry Catfish

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key] 


Bicycling is a hobby I wish I liked. Because of my current work situation, it's not practical in terms of my ever-varying commute and in my spare time, I really find no joy in riding my wheels around town. Maybe one day it will work out, but for now the bikes get cooler each year and every sunny Saturday a new bicycling enthusiast is born. 

Probably the biggest common interest I seem to have with avid bikers is a love of great coffee. So often I find folks sitting at the table of a great coffeehouse in their racing leotards sipping away at an espresso. It's no surprise that some bike shops have opened an in-house coffee bar to cater to the many folks who would saunter through their doors. 

Far and away, the best coffeehouse + bike shop operation I've witnessed is the Angry Catfish in Minneapolis. A former hardware store, the shop has a substantial coffee bar off to the left that beautifully compliments the rest of the happenings of a classy bicycle store. Serving Intelligentsia, the Angry Catfish holds high standards of skill and quality that make their coffee formidable.

To mark my inaugural visit, I ordered an espresso of Black Cat and a pourover of the Panama El Machete. The Black Cat gave off flavors of dark cocoa, lemon, oregano, hefeweizen and sea salt amidst a short pull with brown crema, thus demonstrating a deliciously executed infusion. The pourover blasted notes of fuji apple, wheat and cashew as well as the subtle flavors of cumin, olive oil and honey amidst a light/medium body, all together providing a scrumptious coffee. 

Walking away, I knew that if I had an Angry Catfish around the corner, I probably would be arriving frequently on two wheels. If you're in the area, brake for Angry Catfish. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

CC: Urban Bean Coffee

Subject: Urban Bean Coffee
Location: Minneapolis, MN (Bryant Ave location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

It's always nice to have a coffeehouse to yourself during the first hours of morning light. Few things couple together better than the beams of the sun, the rustling of the barista prepping for the day ahead and the taste of a delicious coffee greeting eager legions of tastebuds.

Such was my fortune one morning at Urban Bean Coffee, a lovely coffee establishment that sits as a splendid corner shop in a nice neighborhood of Minneapolis. I had awoken early to enjoy my morning cup of Dogwood prior to a days work in their beautifully designed cafe (the counter was particularly gorgeous). I had the honor of being the solo patron for about 15 minutes prior to the onslaught of regulars poured through the doors.

For my beverages, I settled on a cup of Dogwood espresso and a drip of Raccoon Blend. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, held notes of punchy lime, watermelon, basil, bran and a pleasant mouth-feel amidst stellar sweetness. The drip dripped with honey, raisin, wheat thin, a little peanut, sassafras and oregano, all riding upon a medium body. Both infusions proved fantastic. 

If you happen to fall upon either location of Urban Bean Coffee, have a grand ol' time and drink deep.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

CC: Spyhouse Coffee

Subject: Spyhouse Coffee & Espresso
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When a good friend of mine went out to Minneapolis back in 2010, he came back with a frustrated lament of not being able to find many good coffee spots in the city. Having since scoured the City of Lakes coffee scene in my own adventures, I found his complaint emptier by the coffee stop. 

One of the glorious and slightly accidental finds was Spyhouse Coffee & Espresso on Nicollet Avenue. I had done my research prior to my arrival in the city but I did not find contentment in my final list, so on the fly I did a quick internet search for coffee nearby and BAM, I spotted Spyhouse. The qualifications spoken on their website closed the sale and I soon found myself standing outside their rather spacious corner shop, complete with an outdoor seating area that could charm most to forsake the AC. Moving inside, the digs proved visually enticing as well, with jazzy furniture, great lighting and lots of interesting art pieces. 

The coffee comes from three excellent roasters: Ritual, Verve and Coava. I had Verve's Street Level via espresso and Ritual's Monte Copey Costa Rica via Cafe Solo. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, trumpeted delicious notes of dark cocoa, lemon, ginger, coriander and flecks of spinach and rare steak. The Costa Rican delivered cranberry, vanilla wafer, romaine, peanuts and a little caramel, all combined in a mellow yet vibrant brew. Both drinks proved well-crafted and delicious.
I count my blessings that I was able to experience some great coffee in one of their outfits. Unlike my friend, make it a point to spy out a Spyhouse location when you're in Minneapolis.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

CC: Peace Coffee

Subject: Peace Coffee
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

A lot of coffee establishments promote sustainability and social justice, but very few seem as entrenched as Peace Coffee of Minneapolis. Created initially by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy to help coffee farmers find a consistent well-paying outlet for their coffee, Peace Coffee operates on what looks like a pretty large scale, always looking to offer coffee that will help the farmer and good ol' Earth. 

But unlike many crusading coffee entities bent on saving the world, Peace Coffee actually has earned a reputation for outputting a good cup of coffee as well, both in their whole beans as well as in their store. Wanting to try out the retail arm in a proverbial arm wrestle, I left a piece of my schedule wide open for a piece of peace, quiet and coffee at Peace Coffee. 

Prancing over to their Wonderland Park location, I found an unmissable blood red brick building with plenty of outside seating and large open windows. Within, the space is spacious, minimal and inviting, with bright colors, an array of places to sit and lots of cool accents (I like the disco ball).

For my beverages, I ordered a pourover of their Guatemalan and an espresso of their Espresso Blend. The Guatemalan proved delicious, with notes of prune, hay, light cocoa and hazlenet in a light/medium body. The espresso, pulled short with dark brown crema, held a peaceful balance of flavors, with blood orange and pepper balancing out with chicken broth, raisin and spearmint. 

I humbly submit that I thoroughly enjoyed my coffee and time at Peace Coffee. If you're in town and you're looking for some great coffee, give Peace a chance. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

CC: Rustica Bakery

Subject: Rustica Bakery 
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Like many a small boy, my mom liked to take me shopping and one of our infrequent stops was at a little bakery close to home. An old Italian-style bakery brimming with jelly-filled cookies and old-fashioned pastel cakes, I distinctly remember not liking their treats at all. Why would I want an apricot jam sugar cookie when I could have a Tastykake butterscotch krimpet or a Hershey bar?

Thankfully, a little wiser with age, my narrow view of sweets has faded and I've grown to appreciate the many varieties of baked goods and baking styles. Also with age, I've also come to recognize that any troglodyte can bake a cake, but it takes a master baker to make great pastries. Couple that skill with a quality coffee operation and you have a rare gem found ever sparingly. 

While I was in Minneapolis I happened upon one such gem called Rustica Bakery, an artisan confectionery in Calhoun Village. I had heard their baking praises sung like sweet yodels in the Alps with a possible complimenting harmony that they also slung local Dogwood Coffee with skill of a fine accordion player. 

Making my way over with little challenge in finding parking (twas a busy day), I walked into their spacious cafe. The interior radiated an old world feel coupled with a modern layout, with plenty of sturdy, chic furniture of wood, as well as pleasing lighting and bountiful shelves of delicious creations.

Looking to their coffee, I ordered an espresso of Dogwood Espresso and a Clover brew of Brazil Serra Negra. The espresso, pulled short with even brown crema, held notes of vanilla, pepper, lime, merlot, poppy seed and sea salt; a flavorful and intriguing infusion that left me chipper. The clover brew of the Brazil delivered flavors of roasted lamb, cashew, green apple candy and seltzer amidst a light body, which easily spelled a hearty yet slightly tart brew. 

My coffee experience coupled with a few baked items tucked away for later (all of which proved wondrous) made for a bakery experience that will sit high in my register. Give Rustica a visit if you're in Minneapolis. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CC: Bull Run Roasting Co

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I must say, if I haven't said it already, that Minneapolis is laid out quite beautifully. Not only were things fairly accessible by multiple means of movement (auto, bike, foot AND bunnyhop) but it was clearly set up to be a liveable town; a beautiful marriage of suburbia and city, with your nice house but a short walk from your corner coffeehouse or eatery. 

Bull Run Roasting Company is one such corner establishment that caught my attention when I was in the fair Twin Cities. Their sharp red exterior gave a pleasant foreshadowing of the cozy interior of wood, brick and orange walls amidst the long corridor inside.

After wandering in and making my way to the counter, I ordered an espresso (the name of the coffee twas not spoken) from their La Marzocco and a drip of their Mocha Java. Pulled short with brown crema, the espresso bore the notes of chocolate, cherry, salt, wheat bread and a little whiskey within a velvety texture; a scrumptious pull that was both vibrant and tasty. The drip held flavors of strawberry, caramel, shortbread, a little nutmeg, a mild earthiness and just the right about of sweetness to make it punch true (i.e. also delicious). 

If you live nearby, I would say I envy thee. And for the transients among us, make Bull Run a stop on your sojourn. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

CC: Quixotic Coffee

Subject: Quixotic Coffee
Location: St. Paul, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key] 

A good name is all too important when you first dub your coffee business. While some go for simple ("town's name coffee") or pun-ny ("sir ippee coffee"), something that projects a good mental concept is what I find to be best. Few places have done a better job in setting my mind ablaze with visual imagery then Quixotic Coffee.

Fortunately, finding and interacting with Quixotic Coffee was anything but quixotic. I found their location in a nice strip of shops near the Mississippi River with large open windows. Within, the place is a bit dark, with rich red walls, a black ceiling and a very minimalistic layout complete with a conference room in the back. 

Moving on to the coffee, I ordered two drinks that utilized Mad Cap Coffee (though they also rotate in other roasters): a drip of their Santa Lucia Costa Rican and an espresso of their 3rd coast blend. The espresso, pulled short with dark tan crema, demonstrated black berry jam amidst a creamy texture, with hints of coriander, sesame and light salt (a delicious and skillful pull). The Costa Rican came out blazing with bullets of cherry, hefeweizen, coca cola, cascara, black tea and a little fig amidst a medium body; also a tasty cup of coffee all too pleasant.

Unlike Don Quixote, I found exactly what I was hoping to find in Quixotic Coffee. Definitely give them a go if you're in the Twin Cities. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CC: Dogwood Coffee

What does CC mean?

Subject: Dogwood Coffee
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

A rainy, early morning can really slow down the energy levels. Its on such mornings that a promise of a good coffee stop effectively gets a kick in my jig and roar in my belly. One such morning in the Twin Cities, I made plans to make my first stop at a local coffee establishment called Dogwood Coffee. A Minnesota coffee roaster and purveyor with a lot of reputed clout, their uptown location beckoned to me like a benevolent siren through the torrents of rain.

Landing at the large brick building that houses Dogwood, I sauntered inside to find the operation off to the left, occupying an open space where the border between the cafe and building lobby was at best ambiguous. Dogwood's back wall was effectively used for storage and they sported several counters, making the feel more akin to a barista competition, and topped it all with a pleasant peninsula of seating towards the front of the building. 

As I arrived close to opening, I had the barista to myself and took my time in deciding. I ended up a with a doubshot of their espresso blend and a clover of their Burundi. The espresso, pulled short with a light brown crema, had a nice lemony brightness, some coriander, filet mignon, merlot and a bit of salt, all in all a tasty pair of shots with some nice character. The Burundian coffee delivered a vibrant, delicious brew, holding notes of peach, spinach, beef broth, carrot, jasmine tea and hints of sassafras and cocoa, all within a medium, french-press-like body. The tea is free leaf.

Finishing up my coffee in the AM tranquility, I relished my Dogwood experience and heartily look forward to revisit one day. Make your way to Dogwood in Minneapolis if you happen to be in the area. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CC: Black Sheep

Location: South St. Paul, MN
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Of all the mammals to be used in a coffeehouse name, goats seem to be the most popular (due to the legend of coffee's origin by a goat herder) but right on the goat's heels, I would hypothesize is it's fellow Bovidae-ite, the sheep (note that these are guesses; I have no hard data). Of course names mean nothing to me as far as attraction (I'd patronize a place called 'The Fly and Vomit' if it served good coffee), yet the love of herded farm animals in names still intrigues me.

Lo, on a trip out to the Twin Cities, I found a non-sheepish coffee operation called the Black Sheep. Named for a couple of interesting reasons, the Black Sheep Coffee Cafe drew me into their pasture with lots of glowing accolades from the prior visits of coffee lovers and hence, it was one of my first stops in the Twin Cities.. 

Located in a large facility complete with parking, their interior boasts a warm environment with a fireplace, lounge chairs and plenty of table seating in a well-lit space. They roast their own coffee, and after a bit of deliberation and guidance from the jovial barista, I ordered a cup of their Colombian Cup of Excellence via a Clover brewer and an espresso of the Summer Espresso Blend. 

The Clovered Colombian doled out frosted wheat, prune, light chocolate, clover honey and wheat grass; an splendidly sweet and mellow coffee amidst a light/medium body. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, also proved sumptuous, with the flavors of deep cocoa, scone, plain yogurt, raspberry jam and a little saltiness. The tea is free leaf.

Thus, if you happen to be seeking out a stellar coffeehouse that stands out from the typical coffee herd, give Black Sheep Coffee Cafe a bleeting chance. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

CC: Kopplin's Coffee


Location: St. Paul, MN
Free WiFi ? :yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Fortune favors the prepared. But in my recent trip to the Twin Cities, my research did not prepare me for one of my coffee stops to be closed due to a sudden emergency. Fortunately, the shop was only closed for a few hours and after a delicious breakfast (and later lunch) at the Copper Dome (oh potato pancakes, how you make me swoon) as well as some other minor tourism, I made my way to my original coffee destination, Kopplin's Coffee.

Praises of Kopplin's put it high on my list and their choice of coffee (they used Terroir Coffee for my order) confirmed at least decent beverages awaited. Their cafe is a small store front across the street from a high school with a cozy, green-walled interior with a nice wood floor, white-tiled ceiling and red chairs providing a fair amount of room.

Onto my order, from the uber-friendly barista I requested an espresso of Terroir's Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and a Clover-crafted cup of Costa Rica La Minita. The Costa Rican rolled out flavors of straw, almond, cream, apple and a little tootsie roll amidst a light body and a smooth profile (delicious, even if "straw" doesn't sound it). The espresso, pulled short on a nice lever Mirage, resounded whiskey, deep cocoa, nutmeg and lemon with a dark brown crema (a splendid espresso). The tea is free leaf.

Few high schools can boast to have such a fine coffee purveyor so conveniently placed. If you're in St. Paul, go out of your way to sample Kopplin's Coffee.