5 of the Twin Cities’ best local coffee shops


Most of us don’t need an excuse to drink coffee. And frankly, it seems to be a much-needed life source in the morning so we can somewhat function properly throughout the day. But if you’re wondering if you should pour another cup, a recent study from the Stevens Institute of Technology says: Absolutely.

The study reveals that even simply the scent and smell of coffee alone can help people perform better on analytical problems and with problem solving. This is especially great news if you’re trying to cut back on your coffee addiction or if you don’t drink coffee at all. By heading to the coffee shop you can still reap the benefits just by being in the vicinity of coffee, though for me, I’ll probably indulge in that extra cup too.  

If you’re looking to focus, get a mental boost working on a challenging project, or just want an excuse to drink more coffee, here are five excellent coffee shops that have both delicious coffee and a great atmosphere.

Dogwood Coffee Bar

Dogwood knows good coffee. They are all about quality with a strong focus on sourcing and roasting technique. They don’t waste time on extra frills with whip cream or chocolate rainbow sprinkles. And frankly, you won’t need it as honestly, it was one of the smoothest and silkiest cups of coffee I’ve ever tasted. Recommendations include their Zamboni Cold Brew and their Neon Espresso. While I frequent the St. Paul Dogwood location, with its industrial chic atmosphere sharing a window with a printing studio, Dogwood also has two other cafe locations in Minneapolis and Uptown each with their own distinctly cool aesthetic.

Spyhouse Coffee

With five locations, Spyhouse Coffee is one of the more popular spots for Minnesotans seeking out a good cup of coffee. Spyhouse focuses on quality sourcing, roasting, and brewing so you get a great cup each time especially with their own roasting facility housed in the beautiful turn-of-the-century brick and timber cafe in the Northeast location. Indeed each location has its own charm from their cozy spot in St. Paul to their modern and open design in the North Loop. And while you can never go wrong with your classics, be sure to try their Spygirl, a lavender and honey latte, or their Caramella, a rich caramel and vanilla latte.

Penny’s Coffee

If you take your coffee with a little sophistication and style, Penny’s will be your new favorite coffee shop. Its downtown Minneapolis location features high ceilings, endless natural light flooding through immense windows, and green marbled walls surrounding the chic wooden tables. Sip on their favorite roast, La Colombe or indulge in one of their trendier drinks like a Golden Latte or Activated Charcoal Latte. Whichever drink you choose, be sure to treat yourself by pairing it with one of their amazing crepes. I tried both the Banana Nutella and Salted Honey Butter crepe and frankly, I had to resist ordering a third. Penny’s second location in Linden Hills offers a similar menu with a few additional lunch items though it feels more like your neighborhood coffee joint with exposed brick and communal tables. 

Banana Nutella and Salted Honey Butter Crepes. Sooo good.

J&S Bean Factory

This coffee joint is one of my favorites. And not just because it’s right down the street from my place. J&S Bean uses the highest quality coffee beans and roasts them right on sight in their 25 kilo small batch roaster in the back. You’ll smell the coffee wafting through the air before you even walk through their doors. They offer plenty of seating that opens out onto an expansive back patio where you can sit back and enjoy a cup of their Organic Sumatra or Organic Colombia. Definitely a community coffee shop, J&S Bean’s decor features local artist’s work, mismatched chairs, and partners with local businesses to provide delicious treats and baked goods.

Canteen 3255

You’ll want to take your next coffee break at Canteen with it’s open modern vibe, bright windows, and plenty of seating. Serving up Kickapoo Coffee and Dogwood Coffee blends, you can’t go wrong with whichever drink you choose. Founder Liz Abene also sells her delicious homemade bars and granola though in my opinion one of her best creations is her Toast Bar. Served on artisan bread, choose toppings from the Canteen Girl Butter options including maple almond and vanilla cashew, pick Hope Creamery Salted Butter, housemade jam and Canteen Girl peanut butter, or top with hummus, provolone and sriracha aioli. However, the best time to come is on Saturday and Sunday for Canteen’s Toast Happy Hour where you can choose from more toppings including eggs, avocados, and feta cheese for just $5.

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