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SMELL WHAT ST. PAUL IS ROASTING

A rundown of our 5 favorite St. Paul coffee shops

By Charles Brandt

St. Paul is a city that has a long history of truly loving its coffee. Ed and Dan Dunn even started their Dunn Bros franchise here all the way back in 1987. It’s been 30 years, and they’re still serving some great coffee across the midwest and beyond. But while they’re still a great option for picking up a good dark roast, latte or even a quick breakfast burrito, St. Paul has a lot more to offer when the caffeine craving takes hold. St. Paul coffee shops are a great place to study, work on projects, meet up on a date, or just hang and pass the time. They are scattered around the city, each neighborhood having its own favorite. In fact, it’ll take a bit of effort to make it to all the great coffee shops St. Paul has built — there are so many favorites to pick from. With that said, here are 5 excellent St. Paul coffee shops that won’t disappoint.

Looking out the window of Nina's Coffee Cafe, a favorite coffee house in St. Paul, with snow on the ground outside.

Image courtesy of Drew Geraets/flickr

Nina’s Coffee Cafe

A longstanding neighborhood favorite, Nina’s is near the St. Paul Cathedral on Summit Hill. The establishment is named after Nina Clifford, a famous local brothel madam in St. Paul during the early 1900s. Rumor has it that her establishment even connected to the prominent Minnesota Club. Nina’s is located on the first floor of the classic Blair Flats building, has an exceptionally large bookshelf painted on one of its walls, and serves food, beer and some great coffee and espresso drinks. All of Nina’s coffee beans come from Minneapolis-based Spyhouse Coffee Roasters.

Groundswell

A great place to hang out and work, study during the day or meet up with friends at night. Located in the Midway, Groundswell is a great addition to the long list of St. Paul coffee shops. They serve a mix of coffee, teas, espresso drinks, beer and wine, and offer both a bakery and food menu. The bakery menu is stocked with items like bacon gruyere scones and cardamom macaroons, not to mention their salted honey caramel cheesecake cupcake. Trying to get friends to come out for some fun? Get people together for weekend brunch, or grab a drink from the beer list and check out Trivia Tuesdays.

A dessert at Kopplin's in St. Paul, a St. Paul coffee house favorite.

Image courtesy of Lee Davenport/flickr

Kopplin’s

Close to the University of St. Thomas, Kopplin’s is one of those St. Paul coffee shops that will satiate your craving for coffee shop drinks and baked goods. The Verdant Chai (Laoshan black tea seasonal spices steamed with milk) is a favorite, along with their Valrhona Mocha. Pastry selection includes croissants, scones, danishes and cookies provided by Patisserie 46 and Rustica Bakery. The philosophy of the location’s owners also stands out. They strive to be a part of the community, and promote items from other local businesses, offer good vibes for free and source from a responsible cross-section of coffee growers.

Black Dog

A Lowertown favorite, Black Dog plays host to a ton of fun events, live jazz bands, soul, blues, R&B, bluegrass and more. It’s located right near CHS Field and the St. Paul Farmer’s Market, and includes a brunch menu. This place has good espresso drinks and coffee, and plenty of place to sit and work or grab a bite. It’s quiet during the day and is complimented with a vibrant live music scene at night. They have a decent food menu, and have some excellent Chef’s specials from time-to-time. In addition to their traditional coffee house drinks, Black Dog also serves beer, wine, and craft cocktails.

Claddagh Coffee

In addition to their “wee shop” on Selby Avenue, Claddagh Coffee has its main location on West Seventh Street. In addition to coffee and cold press, they have a clever and tasty selection of specialty espresso drinks, including a Salty Dog (espresso, caramel, chocolate, sea salt and steamed milk) and a Dirty Seamus (espresso, house-made chai and steamed milk). Add to your drink order some freshly made baked goods, soups, salads, small plates or paninis with organic ingredients. The West Seventh location is a great place to sit and hangout for a while, and if you need some extra room to spread out, check out the basement lounge area.

The berry streusel tart and mocha fudge Kahlúa cake at Cafe Latté, a favorite coffee shop in St. Paul.

Image courtesy of jpellgen/flickr

Bonus Pick: Café Latte

If you’ve made your way through the list and are ready for a totally different vibe, stop by Café Latte on Grand Avenue. Now this is a far cry from the other St. Paul coffee shops; the layout is actually cafeteria-style in front and a wine bar in back, which occasionally plays host to live music. This place has been around a while for a reason, and if you really want to experience it properly, grab yourself a hot drink of your choosing and something from their ridiculously good dessert menu. For chocolate lovers, it’s hard to go wrong with a mocha and piece of classic German chocolate cake.

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