Wednesday, February 21, 2007

3346 Lyndale Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55408


Cuppa Joe $1.35
Latte $2.50

I have visited a lot of coffee shops in the Twin Cities and other parts of the country. Cars-R-Coffins (CRC) is hands down the absolutely most innovative shop in the Twin Cities. Until now my favorite coffeeshop has been Websters Bookstore Cafe in State College, Pennsylvania, because of the quality of the coffee (true shadegrown organic fair trade, handpicked from the forests of Columbia) and because of the melding together of coffee and books (and great variety of used and affordable books).

CRC may overtake Websters on my all-time favorite list. CRC melds together bikes and coffee...and does it well!

I was thoroughly impressed by the thoughtfullness and cleanliness of the shop. I have to admit that it was my first stop in for some java (I usually make multiple visits before I blog a shop). As a man who would prefer that his bikes sleep in the same room as himself, nothing could feel more natural than to drink a cup of Peace Coffee with an old Schwinn, or a custom road bike, hanging above my head.

To top it off, you can purchase yourself a bike as easily as a delicious molasses cookie (gotta have one...just like my Gramma Leese would make).

If you hear a lot of those annoying click-click, or persistent squeaks coming from your derailuer, and your brakes are wearing thin, Hurl (the owner) will tune up your bike for a small fee.

Come on! Is that cool or what?

The "garage door" opens up in the summer and some cozy tables are set up on the sidewalk, so you can relax after a jut around the lakes on your bomber, while you sip your latte.

After Hurl posts the hours on the front door (thats just standard procedure, or so I thought), there will be no qualms about who has the most inventive coffeeshop in the Cities. DO NOT feel that you cannot stop if you are not a biker. CRC is a great place to visit. After all, I parked my Saturn/coffin outfront for my delicious black coffee. The only thing better would be to get a good book, have a great cup of coffee and get my Burley tuned up in one trip!

I only regret is not stopping sooner!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Coffee News Cafe
1662 Grand Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105

Cuppa Joe $1.25
Latte $2.75

Did I hear you ask for the quintessential college coffeeshop? If I did, the answer would be Coffee News Cafe. Although I have yet to figure out where the name came from.

Every community needs a Coffee News Cafe on their block. Either that or a Birchwood Cafe because everything you need is right there - good food, coffee, local art, ale, wine and a very lived in, good-feeling feeling, if you know what I mean.

Coffee News Cafe is located in the heart of Macalaster College. I discovered it when my older son and I visited the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center a few years back to see our first African Music Ensemble show. We had incredible sandwiches, coffee and a cookie and we were hooked. We look forward to catching a show so we can have a complete evening of music, comfort food and good feeling-feeling that we are in a real community. It truly is a great combination.

If I could find something to nitpick, it would be the strange seating along the west wall and the table my family got stuck in the last time we were there for a meal and some music at the college. But, my wife was so impressed with the fresh cut french fries and chicken sandwich, and I was so loving devouring my portabella mushroom sandwich, that was juicier than the juiciest half-pound burger, we forgot that the table on one side and the heat radiator on the other side was pinching us together. I truly did forget until I started to smell the material of my favorite jacket heating from the radiator kicking in.

It is a great experience and an all around friendly place to just has a good feel....please visit Coffee News Cafe.

PS: I did not see any FTO signs sticking out at me, but they do have some pretty tasty vegetarian items.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Harvest Moon Coffeehouse
5101 Minnetonka Blvd
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
952-922-BREW (2739)


Cuppa Joe $ 1.45

Latte $2.55

Note: My obvious bias is that Harvest Moon is my "local" shop, although I live a couple of miles away.

There is not enough wonderful things I can say about the Harvest Moon Coffeehouse. It truly is the cleanest-of-the-clean. The decor is modern classy and they offer a patio for those nice warm summer mornings to relax in the sun after a nice brisk bike ride on the SW Corridor and around the Chain of lakes.

If I could fault Harvest Moon, it would be the limited FTO coffee offered. For a local shop as popular in the St. Louis Park community as Harvest Moon, they certainly could go with Peace Coffee or another local roaster of FTO.

With that judgement aside, the atmosphere is warm and friendly. You can sit is a variety of cozy seating with low classy music that doesn't blare you out of the shop, as many other TC coffeeshops do.

The owners are local (and very nice also) and are committed to their community, with local art, local entertainment and a nice large space offered in reserve for your knitting club, environmental organization, or monthly neighborhood meetings.

Harvest Moon offers a limited, but enticing sandwich and soup menu that doesn't steel your wallet. My kids and I truly love the quesadillas.

As with any successful local shop, Caribou Coffee (sucks) and Starbucks (double sucks), have moved in within blocks of Harvest Moon like a couple of money sucking leeches whose only goal is to unfairly outcompete the locals, send your money out-of-state, and in the end offer you only corporate choices. Support Harvest Moon Coffeehouse. It is worth the stop!

The Harvest Moon Coffeehouse has extended their Fair Trade options to include an evening FTO and two choices in the daytime, instead just one available choice. Thanks Harvest Moon!

Urban Bean Coffee
3255 Bryant Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Free WiFi
Cuppa Joe $
Latte $

If you are looking for excitement, don't park your bike at Urban Bean. The mezmerizing music will lull you to sleep. On the other hand, if mezmerizing music helps you study and you are an insomniac, Urban Bean Coffee on Bryant Ave S is the perfect place for you.

The staff tends to be moody in the evenings and the overpriced bakery items are very poor quality. The coffee selection is fine, but I didn't see any FTO advertising anywhere, so unless I am mistaken, it is conventional (I may report later on new findings).

Urban Bean is a great addition to the neighborhood. It supports local art and is in a quiet location with plenty of outdoor seating. Indoor seating is quite comfy also and with the ad hoc selection of retro Goodwill finds, you can find one that suits your bum.

I really enjoy the new sillouettes of urbanity painted on the walls. It keeps with the theme and looks clean, is original and uncluttered. If your apartment or office is consistently cluttered, then Urban Bean may be where you find your zen of cleanliness and simplicity. On that note, the bathroom earns a C for cleanliness considering the floor looks like it hasn't been moped in years and the toilet made me shriek.

You certainly will enjoy your experience at Urban Bean, but you may want to ask for a side double-shot of expresso to keep your eyelids from getting heavy.

PS: They need a website to enter the same century as their decor.