Coffee houses are vital to an urban life on so many levels. They get us up in the morning and ready for braving the trek to work. We meet at them to do business, maintain friendships and meet new people. Coffee houses can also be a place where we stay in touch with local art, writers and musicians.
Some people consider the only real coffee houses to be the indies. Others feel that the local Starbuck’s or Caribou around the corner, or next to the office, qualifies for them. Regardless of your view, these caffeinated watering holes bind our neighborhoods together, gives us a way to connect with coworkers outside of the office and so much more.
Personally, I view the neighborhood coffee house as the primary way to get to know what my community cares about and who lives in it. Having had the incredible good fortune to live within blocks of a true community coffee house with top notch brew, The Black Dog Cafe, in Lowertown St. Paul, I believe I’ve been a bit spoiled when it comes to my view what makes a great coffee establishment. As noted in earlier UD entries, The Black Dog was one of the things we missed most about leaving our Lowertown neighborhood in 2013.
What The Black Dog so successfully embodied was a sense of community, through a welcoming atmosphere for everyone who lived and wandered into the neighborhood, and a strong identity we all shared in supporting our local artist in residents in
the surrounding lofts. John and I still talk about The Black Dog as having the finest coffee and espresso we’ve ever tasted in the Twin Cities and lament that, while we’ve found some great coffee spots in Minneapolis, after two years we still can’t find anything to match the BD’s roast.
But there are more experiences and opinions out there than ours, so we thought it would be fun to hear from people in the Urban Deluxe community about what they think makes a great coffee house. All the feedback we received boiled down to five traits and everyone pretty much agreed on the order of importance. So here’s the five things that UD readers feel are important to making a good coffee house a great one.
URBAN DELUXE READERS:
TOP FIVE TRAITS OF GREAT COFFEE HOUSES
#5 / Great Music: Number five on our list is great music. A mix of live and recorded was mentioned, with an emphasis of local artists featured for both. The standout genre mentioned was jazz, though eclectic bands came in a close second.
#4 / Support for the Arts: Though music was included in this suggestion, also sited were coffee houses that supported visual arts through rotating displays of photography, paint and sculpture as well as those who feature locally made jewelry and gifts. Many UD readers felt that their local coffee house should give them access to local artists and support their work.
#3 / Good Food: Pastries in particular were mentioned, though others felt that soups, salads and sandwiches should be on the menu. All agreed that the small bites needed to be quality, homemade if possible, fresh and delicious.
#2 / Friendly Staff: Having a place where everyone knows your name isn’t just for bar patrons on Cheers. UD readers felt strongly that coffee house baristas who knew them and served up Joe with a smile was almost as important as the quality of their brew.
# 1 / Good Coffee/Espresso Drinks: Whether they preferred dark or light roast, espresso, Latte or cappuccino, UD readers all agreed that good coffee and espresso were essentials to any great coffee house. Nothing, it seems, can trump the perfect cup of brew for coffee house connoisseurs.
NAME YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE HOUSE! EARN A $15 GIFT CARD
Urban Deluxe would love to know where you’re sipping coffee and why. Comment on this post and tell us about your favorite coffee house! We’ll send you a $15 gift card to that coffee house IF you write the most interesting entry! No geographical restrictions apply–just be sure to tell us what gives your coffee shop top bragging rights.
Please respond by no later than December 1, 2015 to be eligible for the gift card contest.