BEST BARISTA - 2008
Andrew Kopplin, Kopplin's Coffee
2038 Marshall Ave.
St Paul, MN 55104
Andrew Kopplin thinks most coffee is crud, which is exactly why you should drink his. The veteran barista opened his own shop in 2006, where he sources his beans selectively and brews them by the cup in a fancy new $10,000 machine called the Clover. (It's the coffee geeks' new favorite toy, as it gives the barista precise control over water temperature and brew time, and does this thrilling little trick at the end of the cycle, in which the cylinder of coffee grounds raises up from the top of the machine.) So this is what coffee is supposed to taste like! Fragrant, fruity, spicy, and floral, not flat, dark, and bitter. Kopplin is at the shop nearly all the time, tending to all the little details, from how tightly the espresso grounds are packed to the size of the cappuccino's milk-foam bubbles. (By the way, the milk is from Crystal Ball Farms—local, organic, grass-fed, and glass-bottled, just the way we like it.) He even hosts regular Friday "cuppings," where guests can taste-test offerings side-by-side and have passionate discussions about the coffee industry. Kopplin seems just as comfortable brewing a shot as entertaining a customer's baby, which is why, when it gets busy, regulars feel comfortable enough to duck in the back and grab extra chairs, which is also why he's totally worth the hype, er, buzz.