article cover


APR 18, 2019

With Minnesota’s trademark weather extremes, it’s no surprise that locals have quite an affinity for a hot (or iced, depending on the season!) cup of coffee — or that some of the most recognizable names in coffee got their start within our state’s borders.

The successes of hometown brands such as Caribou and Dunn Brothers make it easy to find a taste of Minnesota on pretty much every street corner, but the Twin Cities also have an abundance of independent local options that make that first sip of coffee on an early morning nothing short of amazing.

So next time you’re looking for a caffeine fix, check out one of these local gems!

Crafting the perfect cup of coffee is a true art, but Mojo Coffee Gallery doesn’t stop there. Here, visitors can enjoy artfully-crafted beverages while checking out art on display from local makers (sometimes artists even stop by for live demonstrations!). What more could you expect from the Northeast Arts District? And while we’re definitely not the first ones to make this pun, it’s too fun to resist: one trip to Mojo and you’ll be wanting mo’ joe.

Coffee and cycling is a combo we think many members of the Fitt Fam can get behind. Need your bike fixed up? Why not grab a cup of coffee at the same time? Browse the bikes and enjoy a brew; Angry Catfish serves up both Intelligentsia and the Wisconsin-made Ruby coffee. Or, better yet, ride your bike to the cafe and grab a cup of coffee before pedaling around the nearby Lake Nokomis.

With five locations between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, you’re never far from a freshly-roasted brew at this TC fave. With killer coffee and rustic decor that looks like a Pinterest board come to life, Spyhouse is a go-to for coffee dates, pounding out homework, or unwinding after a stressful day. And DO NOT leave without trying one of their signature lattes, like the honey and lavender-flavored Spygirl or the caramel-y Carmella.

Cocktail bitters usually draw to mind images of, well… cocktails. But that may be subject to change thanks to this coffee shop that’s changing the game by swapping the sugar-bomb syrups found in most lattes for a better, bitter twist. For example, alongside a full menu of traditional drinks and one of nine signature lattes, The Kingfield (named for one of the shop’s ‘hoods — the other in in Northeast!) combines Hawaiian sea salt, vanilla, and coriander bitters. If you need us, we’ll be here working our way through the menu! Fitt Tip: start your week out right with Five Watt’s Sunday Service, a neighborhood gathering complete with a toast bar (!!!) and live organ music.

The Instagram darling of the Twin Cities, Botany’s coffee and tea manage to taste just as dreamy as the shop’s minimalist aesthetic looks. (Seriously, look at this beauty!) With coffee from Michigan’s Madcap, tea from San Fran’s Song, and baked goods from Minneapolis’s Salty Tart, Botany serves up goodies from all sorts of sources with a relaxed vibe that is all their own.

Coffee. Crepes. So much natural light that you have to physically hold yourself back from pulling out your phone for a photoshoot. Welcome to Penny’s. With coffee from La Colombe and a baked goods menu so tempting that every visit has the dangerous potential of turning into a cheat day, Penny’s is a crowd-pleaser. Whether you visit the downtown location or the Linden Hills shop, this place more than lives up to their ‘OK’ logo.

Café Astoria is gold, baby. Solid gold! No, we’re serious. Have you tried their 24k Latte? It’s actually made with edible gold leaf. And that’s just the beginning of the long list of menu items we want to try here. Right off of Grand Ave., this cafe is a brunch destination with smoothie bowls, crepes, oatmeal and one amazingly creative coffee menu. Yep, Café Astoria definitely gets a gold star in our books.

Peace Coffee

Coffee Shop

When you drink Peace Coffee, you’re not the only one who benefits from your caffeine buzz. Fair Trade and organic since they first opened their doors in 1996, this shop is parented by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and sources their beans from fairly-compensated farmers. In short, everyone benefits: farmers, communities, and java junkies. Find Peace Coffee by the bag at retailers throughout the city or visit storefronts in Longfellow or downtown.

Another staple in the TC coffee scene, Dogwood Coffee is all about quality, from the sourcing to the roasting to the service. Lucky for us, there are plenty of ways we can get our hands on some: find Dogwood beans in bags at retailers throughout the cities, savor a steaming cup of at one of three coffee bar locations, or pick up a to-go cold brew from the Dogwood Coffee trailer when they graces a farmers market or food truck festival. However you take your coffee, Dogwood delivers.

From roasting beans to baking pastries, this hometown coffee shop is all about house-made fare and homey vibes. With tons of natural light and funky Victorian accents (check out the ceiling when you visit!) this cozy Uptown spot is perfect for coffee dates or cranking out work. Oh, and happy hours! If you’re in the mood for something stronger, check out the 20-plus wine and beer options — all of which pair well with Vicinity’s paninis and small plates.

Quixotic is quite literally a coffee bar. With both coffee and beer on tap, this Highland Park shop is guaranteed to please whether you stop by for an AM pick-up or a post-work drink. Our recommendations? For coffee, don’t miss the equally tasty and trendy nitrogen-infused cold brew. For beer, you can’t go wrong with a pick from local breweries like Brauhaus and Fulton. Can’t decide? Choose both with Bent Paddle’s Cold Press Black Ale. Cheers!

Less than a block from the light rail’s Raymond Ave. stop, Workhorse may seem inconspicuous from the outside, but they’re unforgettable once you’ve visited. Every detail about this place has us impressed, from the clipboard menu to the quoted-printed coffee sleeves to the museum-worthy latte art. Oh, and speaking of museums, Workhorse converted the former fire hose cabinet outside their front door into a tiny art display that was officially named Saint Paul’s Smallest Museum. (Seriously… there was even a ribbon cutting ceremony.)

When a coffee connoisseur and a pastry chef start a business, you know the result is going to be delicious. Enter: Empire Coffee + Pastry, the sister-founded coffee shop that is upping the Minneapolis coffee game at their Northeast shop. The locally-roasted coffee here is basically begging to be paired with a freshly-baked pastry. Seriously, once you’ve set eyes on the display case filled, you pretty much have to order a croissant, scone, or Grown-up Pop-tart(!!!). It’s in the name, after all.

Canteen is an Uptown favorite thanks to their awesome coffee and Canteen Girl baked goods. Here, you can enjoy a caramel latte with a side of one of their signature toasts (like the one with their homemade Maple Almond Butter). Visit between 10am and 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays for Toast Happy Hour, or check out their Canteen Girl bars at other shops around the Twin Cities.

You can find cans of Blackeye at locations across the country, but to get the full experience, pay a visit to their cafes in the Minneapolis Skyway and the Powderhorn ‘hood. Our recommendation? Blackeye’s signature cold brew, which comes in three flavors: nitro, nitro cocoa, and white chocolate.

In search of some sunny LA vibes on a grey Minnesota day? This North Loop newcomer has the cure with their over-the-top coffee elixirs (Espresso Old Fashioneds! Butter coffee!) and menu offerings like lox bagels, acai bowls, and a nitro cold brew cheese dip. In other words, Fairgrounds is total millennial heaven. A very of-the-moment espresso and matcha bar? Branding so flawless it was practically optimized for an IG feed? An uber-photogenic cafe complete with marble countertops and lots of natural light? Check, check, and check! We’ll see you there!

Of course a business founded by a lighting company would have amazing natural light, but who knew they would also have amazing coffee? A venture by the folks behind Hennepin Made, this North Loop coffee shop/event space serves up brews from Verve, Oddly Correct, Tandem, and Middle State Coffee Roasters. Not to mention a full menu including weekend brunch. Fitt Tip: keep an eye on Parallel’s events calendar as they’ve been known to host on-site workout events (including collabs with Alchemy!)


**Updated by Gina Van Thomme, September 2018