A Descriptive Guide to Coffee Shops, Houses & Cafes in St. Paul, Minnesota

We call it a cup of coffee, or “java,” or “Jo.” We drink it straight or blended, everywhere from “mud,” to strong, weak or “watered down,” and it comes in a variety of flavors. It can be chilled or steaming hot, with cream and sugar or black. The brew even has its own idioms, such as, “That’s not my cup of coffee.” Some of us drink it while pacing or poring over the books. Others sip it soothingly while relaxing on a couch. Old cowpokes once hunkered down by their campfires, pulled their weathered pots off the coals, and settled back to sip it, gaze at the stars, and listen to the lowing of their herds. Hopefully this guide to Coffee Houses, Coffee Shops and Coffee Cafes in St. Paul will help you find your ideal campsite.

Whatever you choose to call the brew, and however you prefer to drink it, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the United States (unlike the rest of the world, where tea comes in second after water). Making the perfect cup of coffee to suit the most discreet palate has become an art in St. Paul. All that’s left is finding the right atmosphere and amenities.

I’ve arranged these coffee shops so they’re grouped alphabetically by their locations. My descriptions include if they have Wi-Fi (wireless connection-free at the independent coffee venues below), live music, fair-trade coffee, and outdoor seating. Independent coffee shops are covered first. Coffee chains are covered separately at the end. (I’ve indicated which chains have Wi-Fi, Fair Trade, live entertainment, and are independently and locally owned. They’ve come a very long way!)


COFFEE Houses, Cafes, Shops in WEST ST. PAUL & DOWNTOWN:

Amore Coffee (Grand Ave. location is closed.) 879 Smith Ave. W. (W. St. Paul) (651) 330.0570. The owners of this winner of the Gold Cup Award say, “We need to remember where people are coming from, so that when they walk through the door of our coffee shops, they don’t just walk right back out with the same definition of coffee they came in with.” Has Wi-Fi, local artists’ displays, live music, fair-trade coffee sometimes, outdoor seating. http://www.amorecoffee.com/

Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar 308 Prince St.(4th & Broadway, Downtown) (651) 228-9274.

In a Lowertown warehouse space, with exposed wooden beams, high ceilings and natural wood floors. Entertainment includes storytellers, poets and musicians, happy hour, and Tango Nights. Has locally roasted coffee. Displays works by local artists. Has Wi-Fi, live music, fair-trade coffee and outdoor seating. http://www.blackdogstpaul.com/

COFFEE Houses, Cafes and shops IN THE MIDWAY, COMO AREA, HIGHLAND PARK, CATHEDRAL DISTRICT and RICE STREET:

Artists’ Grind 2399 University Ave. W. (651) 641-1656.
Also features soothing bulk teas. Run by artists, art is the d�©cor. All coffee is fair-trade, organic and pure filtered. Has Wi-Fi, live music (including bluegrass) and outdoor seating. http://www.twincitiesfun.com/Artists-Grind-ID002297.html

Black Bear Crossings on the Lake 1360 Lexington Pkwy. N. (651) 488-4920 for options. In the Como Pavilion overlooking-you guessed it-Lake Como. Their gourmet caf�© is open year-round, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. No Wi-Fi. Hosts private meetings and special events such as weddings. Live music every Saturday morning. Free summer concerts, and paddle boat and canoe rentals on the lake. http://blackbearcrossings.com/

*Cahoots Coffee Bar 1562 Selby Ave. (651) 644-6778.
Casual, cozy neighborhood spot with delicious coffee made tenderly by a very friendly, personable staff. Delicious food and unique gift items, too. Perfect atmosphere for meeting, studying, writing a book or reading one, or just hanging out. One of my three favorites! Has Wi-Fi, fair trade coffee, and an awesome patio out in the back. http://www.yelp.com/biz/cahoots-coffee-bar-saint-paul

The Coffee Grounds 1579 Hamline Ave. N. (Falcon Heights). (651) 644-9959.
Talk about everything in one! Besides great food and coffee, this neighborhood coffee shop has a Bridge Club, Storytelling, a Beading Group, displays artwork from pre-emerging artists, and lots of live music. On Thursdays, they explore the history of music through their Roots Music Review, and there’s live music from the 20’s to the 70’s. They also have an open mic, where if you sign up ahead of time, you can perform your own original songs on the first and third Sunday of every month. On First Fridays, they feature solo acts. Open 7 days a week. Have a beautiful a patio and a stage, Wi-Fi, fair-trade coffee, and outdoor seating. http://www.thecoffeegrounds.net/

*Coffee News Caf�© 1662 Grand Ave. (Macalester area) (651) 698-3324.
Voted “Best Coffee House 2003/2004/2005” by City Pages magazine, and “Best Neighborhood CafÃ?©” in 2005. Coffee roasted on-site by their own roaster who has won international awards for his work, but they also have delicious teas and wines. Casual and cozy, but you needn’t be embarrassed if you’re dressed up. This is another one of my of my three favorite coffee houses, not only for their wide variety of healthy, yummy food, their ultra great coffee, and personable and helpful staff, but even their wide-variety of regular customers who have become our friends (as has their staff!). My husband and I dine there on weekends while we play Scrabble. Although they don’t have live music, they do play a variety of songs. They also feature local artists. Has Wi-Fi, fair-trade coffee and outdoor seating. http://twincities.citysearch.com/profile/5523028/st_paul_mn/coffee_news.html

Dar’s Double Scoop (it used to also be a coffee shop) 1048 Rice St. (North end) (651) 489-2422. Opens at noon. Although realistically an ice-cream shop with great, competitive prices, flavors, etc. (Voted “One of the Best” of the ice cream shops in the Twin Cities), I had to include them. They support their community, and even sponsor ice cream socials for area schools. Open for lunch and dinner. Also have great food, including pizzas and hot dogs. Has Wi-Fi, and a patio for outdoor seating. http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/29/1440261/restaurant/Twin-Cities/North-End/Dars-Double-Scoop-St-Paul

Dino’s Gyros 1700 Snelling Ave. N. (651) 645-8800.
Not your traditional coffee shop setting; they specialize in Greek foods, but they serve good coffee and have Wi-Fi. http://www.dinosgyros.com/

*Ginkgo Coffeehouse 721 Snelling Ave. N. (Hamline-Midway area, but they also have other locations.) (651) 645-2647.
Intimate neighborhood shop with a great atmosphere for studying, knitting, reading, meeting, etc., and a very friendly staff. Their coffees (and teas) are delicious; their foods healthy and yummy. Sells local, hand-made items. Has a children’s play area, a weekly art & story hour, and other family events. Also displays works by local artists, has a piano, a parking lot in back, live music some nights (ranging from bluegrass, jazz, Celtic and traditional). The last of my three personal favorites! Wi-Fi, fair-trade coffee and two outdoor patios. http://ginkgocoffee.com/

Golden Thyme Coffee & Caf�© 921 Selby Avenue (Summit/University area-Cathedral Hill area) (651) 645-1340.
Known as the “Home of the Selby Ave. Jazz Festival” (which they sponsor), they have a jazz dÃ?©cor and great coffees, teas and food, with many of their items named after jazz legends. Great music and very friendly owner. (The Selby Jazz Fest is held in Sept., on the corner of Selby and Milton.) Has Wi-Fi and outdoor seating. http://twincities.citysearch.com/profile/11357879/st_paul_mn/golden_thyme_coffee_cafe.html

J & S Bean Factory 1518 Randolph Ave., Randolph & Saratoga. (651) 699-7788. This is the headquarters for the Highland Park coffee shop and roaster, where they even create specialized blends for customers who require them. They display local artists’ works, have live music, Wi-Fi, fair trade, and a year-round covered patio out back. http://www.jsbeanfactory.com/

Lori’s Coffee House 1441 Cleveland Ave. N. (St. Anthony Park area) (651) 647-9007
Has Wi-Fi, both organic “farmer-first” coffee they buy from local growers, and fair-trade coffee. Owner sometimes strums his guitar on Fridays; also open to requests and other performers. Has ample outdoor seating. http://www.yelp.com/biz/loris-coffee-house-saint-paul

Nina’s Coffee CafÃ?© 165 Western Ave. N. (651) 292-9816. A “gotta go there,” with lots of positive reviews. In the historical Blair Building in the Cathedral Hill district, they’re likened to a “Parisienne cafÃ?©. Has book readings, is a great meeting place, is very art oriented; with paintings on the windows, too. Specializes in organic food and coffee. Open 365 days a year. Has Wi-Fi, fair-trade coffee, and outdoor seating. http://www.yelp.com/biz/ninas-coffee-cafe-st-paul

Quixotic Coffee (see White Rock Coffee below!) Same location, but new name and great changes. Great varieties of coffee, too, besides coffee tastings!

Trotter’s CafÃ?©, 232 Cleveland Ave. N. (651) 645-8950.
A family-owned venue, they feature Peace Coffee, great tea, and homemade food made on the premises (using local ingredients as much as possible) with low-fat and organic ingredients. White and wheat flours come from Minnesota farmers. Uses locally-produced free range eggs, and Minnesota honey. They have a relaxing, cozy, fun atmosphere, and very friendly staff, besides quite a wide-variety of live music (including blues, country, classical, folk and traditional) and musical instruments (including the harp, violin, harmonica, slide guitar, etc.). Has Wi-Fi, fair-trade coffee, live music and outdoor seating. http://trotterscafe.com/

White Rock Coffee Roasters is now QUIXOTIC COFFEE! 769 Cleveland Ave. S. (651) 699-5448. The company has changed its name and look. Besides offering their standard Moonshine Coffee, they run and sell a series of coffees supplied by different coffee roasters in order to promote the industry. They also purchase their products from local farms and businesses. Has delicious coffee, outstanding food, features local artists, holds periodic coffee events including coffee tastings. Has WI-FI and outdoor seating. http://www.quixoticcoffee.com/

A Guide to COFFEE CHAINS in St. Paul:

Dunn Brothers Coffee Each store is locally and independently owned and operated. They have repeatedly won recognition throughout the years, such as during 2005: “Best Coffee (by the pound) City Pages,” and “City’s Best 2005 Coffeehouses,” and were the “Readers’ Poll #1 ranked coffee house” in Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. Their coffee is roasted fresh daily, they all have free Wi-Fi and fair-trade coffee, some have live music, and there’s always outdoor seating (unless they’re in a mall). To find a location near you, which have live music or entertainment, and what each has to offer, go to http://dunnbros.com/find-a-shop Scroll down below the map to see listings of locations. To go to any shop’s individual site, click on the direct link below it.

Caribou Coffee Originating in 1993 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, they serve 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, and believe that sustainable coffee can help create a more sustainable world. In their words, the Alliance “ensures the planet is well cared for, and makes sure farmers, their families, and communities are well-treated, too.” Have free Wi-Fi and fair trade coffee. To find a location near you in St. Paul or Mpls., go to http://www.cariboucoffee.com/page/1/our-locations.jsp

Starbucks Coffee Company The company is committed to reducing our own environmental footprint and fighting climate change, besides giving back to neighborhoods and communities that they’re a part of. They support ethical sourcing, providing funding to organizations such as Root Capital, Verde Ventures and the Calvert Foundation, who make loans to farmers to help them get fair prices for their coffee. Free Wi-Fi. Also, read about their Sourcing Diversity here http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/diversity/suppliers All their stores have free Wi-Fi and some Fair Trade coffee. To find the location nearest you, type in your city and state, or zip code, and look down to the left of the map. Clicking on 25 stores will give you better results for ones near you; then scroll down through the stores provided. http://www.starbucks.com/store-locator?location=st.+paul,+mn&limit=10&features=

In conclusion: For your sake and mine, I couldn’t cover all the coffee shops, houses and cafes in St. Paul. In addition, many spring up and or fall down over the years. But if you’re looking for a good cup of brew in any of these areas, and want to know what amenities they have, hopefully this guide has helped you in your quest. From my cup to yours, L’chayimâÂ?¦ To Life!

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