The second wave of coffee awareness has seized the Cities. Where once we happily sipped diner swill for $1.50, when we were introduced to Starbucks the coffee snob revolution began. Now we have single-cup brewing of fair trade beans and elegant surroundings in which to savor them.
We scoured the Cities to compile a list of coffeehouses that offered not only the best of the beans but a comfortable room to savor an expertly brewed cup.
It's newer, it's bigger and if it's possible, even better than their former home on Hamline. The Kopplin's space on Marshall Avenue is bright and full of room for spreading out work and laptops. Young, old, even families with small, well-behaved children are flocking to the gold standard of what a neighborhood coffeehouse should be. There is now also a retail space where fans can buy chocolate or coffee paraphernalia. A great stop for grabbing a little brew on the go or settling in for an hours-long discussion with a good friend.
2038 Marshall Ave, St. Paul
651.698.0457; Kopplin's website
2. Bull Run Coffee Bar
From the hilarious Twitter feed (#AmandaQuotes) to its cleverly created latte flavors (bacon maple morning pick-me-up, anyone?), Bull Run Roasters is bringing its acerbic wit to you in every expertly brewed cup. The long, thin space features garage doors that roll back and open in the warmer months, and the cozy space is ideal for snuggling up with a Kindle and some Vonnegut in the cooler months. No need to bring an iPod, though--the music selection rocks as hard as this staff. The close proximity to Patisserie 46 is a major plus: The flaky chocolate croissants enhance any cup of Joe, and a sandwich for lunch makes any afternoon feel a little more special.
Bull Run imports its beans from all over the world and roasts them locally. Their belief is that the farmer should come first. The company supports Farmer First.org, an organization that forms partnerships with coffee farmers and ensures they receive fair pay for their product. The beans are richly flavored and treated with the highest respect from tree to brewing to cup. The coffeehouse also sells Bull Run Roasted beans wholesale, and Tuesdays they're $2 off a pound. 3346 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis 952.285.4242; Bull Run website
3. Angry Catfish
Ever had one of those days so madly fueled by espresso that it's all you can do not to race through the city streets like the Greek god Mercury? Well, the Angry Catfish can help you get across town in record speed. Not only does it boast some of the best-brewed coffee in the metro, but it is also a bike shop. Be sure to take advantage of the nearby Baker's Wife for a doughnut to dunk in your artisan brew.
The espresso beans are Intelli Black Cat, and the coffee-brewing methods are craft, single cups using chimex, pour overs, and siphons. Incredible, straightforward coffee flavors, this is not the place for flavored lattes. If you must have something frou-frou, try the smoked sea-salt mocha: The hint of smoke enhances the dark, espresso flavor. 4208 28th Ave. South, Minneapolis 612.722.1538; Angry Catfish website
4. Blue Ox
A new addition to the coffeehouse scene, Blue Ox appeared with artisan bells on, including brewing carafes made especially for the shop by owner Melanie Logan. Neighbors near Chicago and 37th had been short on gourmet coffee options before it opened. Now neighbors are flocking from Phillips, Powderhorn, and beyond for each carefully brewed cup. Logan sources her beans from Anodyne and Apollo espresso.
Now with two locations, the perennially hip spot is perfectly suited for a refined boho artist sort of vibe. What was once a scrappy little space over by MCAD has grown up to be one of the premier coffee-sipping establishments in the Cities. Watch the baristas craft flowers atop a latte. Sip and savor the complexly flavored beans. Spyhouse makes the sort of coffee drinks where tasting notes are actually relevant. Each cup is brewed by drip, pour over, immersion or French press. Beans are roasted in California or Portland, Oregon. The average cup takes three to four minutes--such is the price for quality. 2404 Hennepin Ave S., Minneapolis 612.377.2278
2451 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis 612.871.3177 Spyhouse website
6. Peace Coffee
What would the home-brewed cup of high-quality local brew be without Peace Coffee? Sold in bulk pretty much everywhere now, Peace finally opened its own coffee shop in the Longfellow neighborhood. From the retro-kitch of the round light bulbs illuminating the sign to the dazzling pop of red paint against the gray exterior, this comfortable space has the DIY feel of its diverse Minneapolis neighborhood. Peace led the way for fair trade coffees, and the resulting brews, grown without pesticides, have been revelatory. The shop is also a place to learn, where coffee lovers can take classes about how to craft the perfect cup at home. Food choices include Birchwood Café granola, Common Roots bagels, and pastry items from the Wedge. Peace also caters to those who might not always want coffee, with an extensive list of high-quality teas. With churned cream from Castle Rock dairy, Aames farm honey, and Rochdale Farms cheddar, Peace takes local eating seriously. 3262 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis 612.877.7760; Peace Coffee website
7. J & S Bean Factory Tucked into a quiet corner of St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood, this coffee shop roasts beans on site from the best coffee-growing countries of the world, crafting blends like the Obama (Hawaiian Kona and Kenyan AA). Full of college students and professors from the nearby schools, the vibe is decidedly studious, but not serious. The interior is cozy warm and full of the wonderful scent of roasting beans. Cups of coffee are high quality without any sticker shock pricing. In the summer, or for the smokers, the huge backyard space is like a visit to a friend's garden. When it's in bloom, it's a stunning patio space to sip and sun yourself. 1518 Randolph Ave., St. Paul 651.699.7788; J & S website
8. Bob's Java Hut Bikes, babes, and coffee beans. This Uptown institution has been around for over 17 years and shows no signs of slowing down. To last in this neighborhood, you've got to have that classic rock 'n' roll style. From the black "33"-emblazoned gear to the tattoo shop upstairs, Bob's has got that in spades. The wide-open room is full of outlets for long days working on laptops. The entire front wall rolls up in summer, bringing Lyn-Lake right into the coffee counter. Drinks are classic, and the dark roast coffee is strong. 2651 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis 612.871.4485; Bob's Java website
It's always nice to see a quality, independent shop triumph over the big corporate guy, so it's great to see Dogwood's coffee bar situated in the space where a Starbucks once sat. Boasting some of the best coffee available, Dogwood carefully brews each cup with its ultra-premium blends. Its story began inside Rustica bakery, where it first sold its coffee as a part of Bull Run Roasting. In 2010 it broke away and formed Dogwood. The space is a bit utilitarian, with gray metal chairs and stools, but full of bright sunlight. It's Warsaw interior decorating meets Western capitalist prices. The price is worth it if you're looking for a high-quality cup. The location affords fabulous views of the characters that haunt this corner of Calhoun Square. You can also buy the beans at the café. 3001 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis 612.354.2952; Dogwood website
10. Café Patteen Downtown is littered with more Caribous than a Palin family Christmas. Skip the mall traps full of burned chemical-flavored beans and head straight through the skyway to the International Center for a cup of coffee brewed with love. All the coffee is made with fair trade beans and quality ingredients, like Ghirardelli chocolate for the mochas and rich, creamy milk for the lattes. In addition to the great coffee, Patteen has pastries, quiche, sandwiches, and soups, all made in-house. Skyway level, 920 Second Ave. S. # 295, Minneapolis 612.371.0262