Best Coffee Shops in Minneapolis
Coffee addicts and alcoholics have one thing in common: “too late in the day” isn’t really a thing. Sure, normal coffee drinkers may be cool with picking up a medium roast from the local McDonald’s or Starbucks in the morning. But if you’re deep in the java game, it’s imperative you know where the very best spot in your ‘hood is AND that it’s willing to feed your craving any time of the day. So, to help you out, here’s a cheat sheet of some of the best hidden gems throughout the Twin Cities. They may not be the most famous, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be overlooked.
Best Coffee Shops in Minneapolis – Top Pics
Set back on Johnson St in a tiny Northeast strip mall, The Coffee Shop is an unassuming delight. Walk inside and you’ll see it’s deceptively big (in both size and offerings), with a chalkboard menu that has everything from your basic cold presses and espressos, to more unique selections like a dirty chai with a flavor shot, or some seriously fabulous scones. If you’re looking to save a buck, this place allows you to purchase the beans as well. Bottom line: there are so many eye-catching flavor combos, coffees, and food that it’s hard to narrow down the best. Now, having said that, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend the coconut blend.
The first noticeable thing about this place is the exterior: it’s in a renovated Victorian home from the late 1800s. The shop is classy, but casual, with some intimate low lighting and comfortable bench seats inside. But the only thing better than the ambiance is the coffee. From the one-of-a-kind brass espresso machine, to the bottles of exotic and exciting flavors lining the back wall, there’s as much character in the cups as there is in the four walls. So whether you’re the dark and strong type, or you’re in the mood for something light and flavorful, there’s no wrong choice here. And if coffee isn’t your thing, this place has the best chai in Minneapolis (and loads of awards on the wall to prove it).
At first pass, Fresh Grounds is a solid coffee shop with a deluxe food selection, $2 lattes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and even free fortune cookies on Fridays. But the real magic isn’t just in the coffee pots (though it is there, too); it’s also in the people pouring them. As a nonprofit social venture, the shop prides itself on employing individuals leaving temporary transitional housing situations — halfway houses, sober houses, foster homes, etc. — and giving them the training and structure needed to transition into the next phase of their lives. All of the profits go directly back into funding the training program, which means you’ll feel an even better buzz buying from here based on the help you’re providing to the community.
Ripped right from a sketch out of Portlandia, Sparrow Cafe is the only coffee shop in the Twin Cities that is certified bird-friendly. Weird, right? Well, don’t worry, you won’t find any birds randomly flying around the shop; there’s just some beautiful murals of birds, some kitschy decor, and an array of excellent coffee and pastries. It’s a quiet corner spot tucked away from the more populated nearby areas, making it a great one for that early-morning caffeine fix.
Located in the heart of the University of Minnesota, Bordertown is way more than your standard college java shop. Yes, it does have coffee and espresso to help keep you revved up for a night of studying (or just watching Netflix), but the real reason to visit is the baked goods. Each is seemingly better than the next, though that carrot cake with cream cheese glaze is probably towards the top of the list. When you’re here, don’t skip the sausage & cheddar scones, or those dark chocolate truffles. And since the menu changes frequently, you’ve got plenty of reasons to stop in at least once a week… or once a day… or once an hour.
Since opening their first shop in 2000 in the Whittier neighborhood, all four Spyhouse shops have become Minneapolis coffee meccas, known for their meticulously sourced beans and superbly poured brews. And we’re not the only ones singing their praises. Spyhouse was honored recently at the Good Food Awards, which recognizes excellence in coffee roasters, as well as other craft producers such as beer, cheese and spirits.
The Bachelor Farmer Cafe
New kid on the North Loop block Bachelor Farmer Cafe has garnered a lot of media attention, which is bound to happen when your big brother is the popular Bachelor Farmer restaurant next door. But the cafe stands on its own with gorgeous treats from pastry chef Emily Marks and carefully curated blends, like their custom North Loop blend from Dogwood Coffee. Their signature savory cheese muffin is not to be missed, but if you are there after 11:00, the menu morphs to include pressed sandwiches and open faced toasts, all on house made bread.
Best Coffee Shops in Minneapolis – Voted the best
You probably already have a favorite coffee shop, the spot where you stumble in bleary eyed and the barista starts fixing your usual before you have time to order it. But once in a while, it’s nice to break out of the daily grind. Need inspiration? Venture to one of these Minneapolis hidden gems the next time you’re in need of solace and caffeine:
Canteen 3255 – Minneapolis
Canteen is a Zen garden of a coffee shop, soothing and minimalist. The atmosphere is hushed, the rustle of newspaper pages and the restrained clacking of a dozen laptop keyboards punctuated by an occasional whir from the espresso machine. This is a spot to meditatively admire the foam art on your latte; a rowdy recap of last night’s festivities will earn you passive-aggressive glares.
Fittingly, drinks are a study in elegant simplicity, relying on Dogwood espresso and craftsmanship instead of dozens of garishly flavored syrups and gobs of whipped cream. The curated menu focuses on the details: the vanilla syrup and caramel that grace the lattes are house-made, and the miel — an espresso drink flavored with honey and cinnamon — is served with a diminutive chocolate cookie.
Whatever your stance on artisanal toast, you have to admit that Canteen has nailed it: hefty slices of toasted Rustica bread are spread with toppings like local butter or house-made vanilla cashew butter. The best deal is the weekend self-serve toast happy hour, when you can layer on the nut butters, jams, honey, and Feta to your heart’s content.
Fireroast Café – Minneapolis
Situated on a quiet corner in Longfellow, Fireroast Café is a warm, sunny space with comfortable booths and fabulous scones. Granted, many coffee shops have scones, but they dream of becoming the ones at Fireroast Café when they grow up. Crumbly and studded with oats, they’re baked daily in wholesome-tasting flavors like maple pecan and rosemary apricot. A rotating selection of house-made muffins, cookies, and coconut macaroons rounds out the bakery case. The lunch menu has a south-of-the-border twist, with burritos and quesadillas — try the mushroom manchego quesadilla, served with a delicious house-made heirloom tomato salsa.
Of course, there’s also coffee: fair-trade, organic, and sourced from local UP Roasters. Options include standard drip, pourover, and expertly crafted espresso drinks. Although not the café’s primary focus, there’s a nice selection of loose-leaf teas, and the barista will loan you a little hourglass timer so that you can steep the perfect cup. The hot chocolate shows the same thoughtful touch, made with Ghirardelli chocolate and garnished with enough marshmallows and sprinkles to delight your inner child.
Precision Grind – Minneapolis
Precision Grind is the place for days when you don’t want to change out of your yoga pants to meet your friends for coffee. It’s a chill space in Seward with Chipotle-style industrial decor, Christmas lights and Chinese lanterns strung across the front window, and a diverse clientele ranging from creatives toting sketchbooks to business types with laptops. Seating is ample, with plenty of room to find a quiet table if you need to get some work done.
There are three daily coffees — dark, light, and decaf — and the standard lineup of espresso drinks. The Mexican mocha, flavored with allspice and cayenne, is a spicy pick-me-up. The cold press packs a smooth caffeine punch, and in the summer, there’s a refreshing vanilla version. In addition to scones and muffins, the bakery case features something that all too many coffee shops neglect: fresh doughnuts. Sourced from St. Paul’s SugaRush, the assortment includes classic apple fritters, bismarks, glazed old-fashioneds, and cake doughnuts with plenty of sprinkles. The doughnuts aren’t fancy, but they’re straight-up satisfying — exactly like the surroundings.