COFFEE. Saint Paul is abound with coffee shops ranging from the mundane and/or franchised (think Starbucks, Caribou, Dunn, etc) to the local, well-worn (J&S Bean Factory). Here’s why I’m qualified to write this article: I drink coffee and often work out of cafés. I’m in one now having a beautifully pulled double shot of espresso.
My real estate agent career pushes me into the neighborhoods, into the alleys, and into the dark corners of the Cities. I spend a LOT of time looking at property and researching houses, streets, and neighborhoods. I have an intuition for the good stuff – probably inherited from my dad who is the master at discovering the good stuff. That’s another blog post all together.
There are several places a coffee-lover should know about.
Claddagh Coffee Cafe in the fabulous West 7th neighborhood. Comfortable, warm, and local. There’s a downstairs area featuring couches and larger tables. This spot is a short walk from my office so I’m there often. My favorite drink here is the Claddagh – Espresso, Irish cream, dark chocolate, and steamed milk. If you see someone who looks like me, it’s probably me – say hello!
J&S Bean Factory on Randolph Ave in what is just barely the Highland Park neighborhood. Randolph Ave is the border – the north side of the street is Macalester Groveland while the south side is Highland Park. This matters if you’re thinking school districts (more on that in other posts). There are a few things that make this establishment special. First and foremost, they roast their own beans. That’s important. There are both indoor and outdoor seating options – both eclectic and comfortable. This is one of the few coffee shops which has a scene. The outdoor area is totally a scene. There are a lot of professor-types in here – people who read. I like those people. They get daily deliveries from La Loma restaurant so you can order tamales while you’re here as well. My favorite espresso is here.
Next isn’t even a coffee shop – and yet they offer one of the better coffee drinks I’ve had in St. Paul – Everest on Grand across from Kowalski’s Market at Syndicate and Grand. I can’t explain it – Turkish coffee with cream? It’s not sweet, a little bitter – and completely satisfying.
The third location was pure accident. I ended up at the Dancing Goat in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood on E 7th. It’s a charming place with really friendly people – both the baristas and the customers. This place felt special. I asked the barista what the special drink there was – which is the diablo mocha. Think mocha with chilis. It has a nice spicy (cayenne?) finish, and perfect for a cold day.