My relationship with coffee is a fussy one. It’s largely a mental trigger and mostly unnecessary for me to feel human. I’m not the type of person who requires a pot of coffee before their first cup of the day (you know who you are), in fact if I have more than a small latte, chances are I’ll feel less-than-human for the next 24 hours. I’ve taken conscious breaks from drinking coffee and the only difference I’ve felt is the noticing how particularly strong and delightful the coffee aisle at work smells.
I make a latte (but I promise it’s not “skinny” or with sugar-free vanilla) almost every morning with my stovetop espresso percolator. I like the bold, compact flavor espresso offers, and the addition of milk is required for my sensitive stomach to take even a sip. This morning I brewed a batch of Espresso Blend from the popular Minneapolis-based roastery, Peace Coffee. This cuppa was intense but smooth in a way even a coffee novice would understand if they tasted it. I had my coffee this morning with a batch of overnight oats, made using this recipe.
Some mornings, though, I wake up and require that someone else makes my latte. Sometimes it’s just so much better when a total stranger does the work for you. This has led to a handful of great wanderings through Saint Paul to familiarize myself with the coffeeshop scene and satisfy my latte cravings.
First up is Nina’s Coffee Cafe in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of Saint Paul. This well-lit, spacious cafe quickly reminded me of a favorite brunch destination on NYC’s upper west side–stately but cozy at the same time. Nina’s brews its own blend of coffee (and they sure do brew it well). There’s a full food menu and, as if anyone could ask for more than a good cup of coffee, a bookstore downstairs.
Just down the street from Nina’s is one of Saint Paul’s natural food co-ops, Mississippi Market. The grocery store does have a coffee bar of its own, but if you’re a fan of coldbrew like me, you’ll opt for Stumptown‘s Winter Cheer coldbrew carton. Some of the country’s best coldbrew plus milk, spices, and a touch of sweetness all packaged in a way that makes me feel 10-years-old again? Sold.
Last up in this round of reviews is J&S Bean Factory, a tucked-away but incredibly busy Saint Paul shop. This place roasts their own beans and sells them in bulk for take-home connoisseurs. J&S’s emits a strong neighborhood vibe, with political signs displayed prominently in the windows, stacks of boardgames for the playing, and a stage for local musicians to wow attentive audiences from. Not to mention the case of enticing pastries, including this poppyseed kolache.
I’m impressed with Saint Paul’s coffee options thus far, and I must say–thoroughly caffeinated.