The Best Espresso and Where to Find It

June 13th, 2016
By Jason Parr

CoffeeAs a college student, my days are filled with 8 a.m. classes and late-night study sessions. How do I manage work and play? A constant, daily injection of caffeine, the baristas at the campus coffee shop even know my morning order. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without coffee. It keeps me energized and alert. Luckily for me, the Twin Cities is home to copious amounts of cool and trendy coffee shops for me to explore. If you’re like me and can’t seem to put the coffee down, here are a few of my favorite places for you to check out.

Quixotic, Saint Paul

When I came to Minnesota two years ago, Quixotic in Highland Park was the first coffee shops I fell in love with. They recently remodeled their shop, revamping the decor and their menu. One of the coolest features of the new and improved menu is all of the beverages they have “on tap”, my favorite being their nitro cold brew. I have no clue how the science behind it works, but the nitrogen infused coffee turns into something magical; a cold brew that is thick and foamy in consistency. My go to drink in the summer months in their De Niro; nitro brew mixed with hazelnut flavor and chocolate milk. Yes it’s as good as it sounds. On the rare occasion I don’t want coffee, their Jasmine Lychee Kombucha on tap serves as a refreshing alternative. The lightly carbonated beverage is full of flavor, and while the lychee one is my favorite, there are other delicious flavors to choose from. Kombucha offers a ton of digestive health benefits, making it a tasty way to treat your body right!

To Try: De Niro, Jasmine Lychee Kombucha

Spyhouse North Loop, Minneapolis

Arguably the most famous group of coffee shops in Minneapolis, each Spyhouse offers an aesthetically pleasing experience. Picking your favorite Spyhouse could be equated with picking your favorite child, but if I had to choose my favorite it would be the one in North Loop. North Loop is my favorite area of Minneapolis; it’s super trendy, and there seem to be endless restaurants to try. However it’s not just the neighborhood that makes this Spyhouse my favorite.  It’s the style of decor that makes it stand out in my mind. (Think white marble tables, black and white tile floors, vintage artwork, modern light fixtures, and gold accents-it’s an Instagram goldmine). I’d move in if they would let me. I may be slightly obsessed with the overall experience of the North Loop location, but regardless of what Spyhouse you visit, you won’t be disappointed. All of them have incredible decor and the same phenomenal coffee to go along with it. If you are ever feeling adventurous, Spyhouse always has a unique seasonal beverage. Though you can’t really go wrong with anything on their menu, my summer drink of choice, is the iced Spygirl Latte. The combination of milk, espresso, lavender, and honey is the perfect level of sweet without being too heavy or overpowering.

To Try: Iced Spygirl Latte (lavender & honey)

Claddagh Coffee, Saint Paul

This past January I had the opportunity to study abroad in Australia. I returned to Minneapolis at the end of the month with a tan from the Aussie sun and a serious addiction to flat whites. If you aren’t familiar with flat whites, they are a beverage that originated down under and consist of steamed microfoam milk and espresso. While similar to a latte or cappuccino, flat whites have a higher proportion of espresso to milk as well as a more velvety texture. They are without a doubt my favorite way to enjoy coffee. Starbucks recently started offering their variation of the drink, but after a month of drinking the real thing Starbucks didn’t even come close. (No hate for Starbucks, I stop by the one across from the office almost daily for my afternoon espresso fix). When I saw flat whites on the menu at Claddagh Coffee, I literally jumped for joy. Admittedly, nothing can really compare to drinking a flat white at a cafe in Sydney or Melbourne, but I am still beyond ecstatic about finding a place to get a good flat white without traveling to the other side of the globe. Did I mention Claddagh Coffee has two adorable locations in Saint Paul and tons of other great menu items? A win-win in my book.

To Try: Flat White, Sister Mary Claddagh Latte (chocolate & orange)

Urban Bean Lyndale, Minneapolis

When I need to be serious and get work done, the Urban Bean on Lyndale is by far my favorite study spot. There’s outlet access at almost every table plus plenty of open space. (As a student completely dependent on my laptop, this is a huge benefit). This is not to say Urban Bean isn’t a popular spot; there is constant foot traffic including many dogs who frequent the shop-the baristas have dog treats set out for the four legged visitors. The location of this coffee shop adds to its appeal. Located on the border of Whittier and Lowry Hill East, there are numerous cafes, shops, and places to explore in the area. Getting a beverage to go and walking around the vibrant area is especially fun now that our beautiful Minnesotan summer is in full swing. My go-to drink here is a good old americano. While Urban Bean offers great latte options with homemade syrups, I love their espresso so much that I prefer to enjoy it closer to its pure form.

To Try: Americano

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