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Mar 29, 2006 09:54 AM

best espresso in twin cities?

  • j

Is anyone else astonished at the poor quality of espresso in this area? Four ounce shots seem the rule; it's not espresso it's just bad coffee...

Where have people found good espresso?

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  1. i would not call it poor quality, it is often made with very good ingredients they just do not do it right. interestingly a canned pre-ground coffee like medaglia d'oro often makes a more authentic espresso than any of the better coffees sold in town. i think no one is very interested in "authenticity". they seem to grind the coffee any which way blast some hot water through it and call it espresso.

    1. I think TC coffee is more about padded chairs, fireplaces, fanciful flavored concoctions, and terrible pastry than simple high quality. I had high hopes for Lucia's Bakery, but although very drinkable it was far from sublime. The quest continues, although I won't be holding my breath. The problem is that there is tolerance for the status quo. It almost makes me think about starting a business. In the meantime I'm firing up the Pavoni, and contemplating roasting my own beans because all the roasts I've tried have been below average.

      13 Replies
      1. re: karlitosway

        Just last week I stopped in at Coffee and Tea, Ltd. in Linden Hills for the first time, where I had a very interesting latte -- which is advertised on their menu as "made with an appropriate amount of milk." This strikes me as the comment of a purist (which in this context is a good thing, right?). For my taste, it was nuttier and richer than most that I have had in the cities (including Lucia's), without any bitterness. So, although I have not had a straight shot of espresso there, it would be worth trying, and I will definitely be back to try it again.


        1. re: Chris Mitra

          We do need a nice Italian-style coffee bar in the Twin Cities.

          1. re: jeanmt

            Kopplins - He knows his coffee. (since a request was made for more current coffee info)

            Kopplin's Coffee
            490 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116

              1. re: soupkitten

                I've only been to Kopplin's once, and I had the worst espresso of my life there. It was overwhelmingly sour/acidic. Do I need to order differently, or did I just get a bad barrista?

                1. re: Jordan

                  You will find the best espresso in town at The Black Sheep Coffee Cafe in South St. Paul. Additionally, they have one of the only Clover Coffee makers in MN.


                  1. re: Jordan

                    weird! i rec kopplin's (generally) because of the obsessive attention to all things coffee there. i don't know whether your experience was a one-off, barrista error, or what. ime the staff is very well trained and attentive to the details of coffee minutiae-- though i'm trying to remember if i've ever had just a plain espresso there. . . hmm. so maybe i can't make a rec for kopplin's specifically on espresso.

                    i tend to order espresso after fine dining meals, i guess, and i haven't noticed the problem the op noticed in 2006, it's generally good, or fine at least. in coffee shops i don't order plain espresso so much anymore.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      I usually get a capuccino or latte myself, and the application of milk and foam can disguise a host of errors. Based on the glowing recommendations here, I went for a plain espresso at Kopplin's and was very disappointed.

                      It may have been a fluke (these things happen). Then again, there's a certain positive feedback loop on the MSP board that starts with a few good reviews and leads to inflated praise across the board.

                      1. re: Jordan

                        Well, I don't really know that I'm qualified to say what's "great espresso" on everyone else's terms but I'm among those quick to recommend Kopplin's. Here's my logic:

                        Espresso, and coffee in general to me, shares common experiential characteristics to wine. I generally hate wine, but I'm not ordinarily dabbling in the "fine wine" realm. I also don't usually like plain, unadulterated espresso because, yeah, it tastes acidy and bitter (vs. "sour" on my palate).

                        But on a few occasions I've had chances to enjoy the expertise of a world-class sommelier and have been introduced to some outstanding wines. The difference from the plonk my budget can afford and these was that the flavor complexities were blatantly obvious even to my untrained palate and were "as advertised". It's like the difference between a 10-finger chord on a baby grand in Carnegie Hall and my two year-old repeatedly tapping the orange key on her Fisher Price kid piano toy.

                        When I've had espresso at Kopplin's, and periodically it has been straight up, I've universally experienced the former. Yes, the delivery vehicle has some bitterness and acidity but I consider some degree of that inherent and it is far overshadowed by the layers of flavor that Kopplin's achieves.

                        I'm the same way with the milk/cream/foam bit. I usually have a heavy hand with it...but I always taste the "black" coffee/espresso *first* before putting in the condiments, even at Caribou or whatnot. The mark of a truly great cup of coffee or pull of espresso to me is when I take that sip and don't feel compelled to add anything (unless I'm really in the mood for a creamy drink). Kopplin's is the only place I've found around town where I hardly ever want to add anything to the drink.

                        That's just me. Hopefully, I'm not contributing to "inflated praise". That said, I can't account for the possibility of a bad barista.

                    2. re: Jordan

                      Usually there are bean options. Sometimes two espresso choices. The flavor profile you didn't like would be worth noting, as you may want to avoid it in the future. There are frequent limited runs of various roasts. It could generate an obsessive interest in developing a coffee palate. I find it's interesting to drink some Peace or other large batch, high quality, lower finesse roast for a pound or so, and then rotate back to Kopplins to see if I really like the high quality difference. Sometimes it's very striking how much more dynamic one of Kopplin's estate roasts can taste. Other times I've been underwhelmed. A straight shot is a good way to get to the essence of the flavor. Is the crema healthy looking? Is it striated? Did the barista pre warm the espresso cup? Yadda yadda. The real fun IMO is to get yourself a lever action home machine and do it yourself. Home roasting is getting pretty interesting too. Become a nerd. Get your own dairy herd......

                      1. re: keg

                        [strong opinion alert]

                        Yes, exactly, keg! My "flavor profile" detests bitter flavors. I haven't met a brewed/hot-water-blasted/whatever-you-call it coffee drink that was any better than mud-water in my book. I make a concentrated cold soak (with beans that aren't burnt-roasted, thank you very much) and it is DIVINE.

                        Also, there is going to be a very different taste and mouth-feel depending on whether one is using no milk, skim milk, or cream. I don't care for no milk but with my cold soak I can get by with skim. Hot processed coffee drinks require sugar and cream to be palatable. But I usually still forgo that concoction and opt for tea or bring some of my elixir with me!

                      2. re: Jordan

                        Koplin's specializes in light roasted coffee that has a sour/acridic taste to it, when under roasted. It's a little closer to a green-unroasted bean than a city roast. I'm a favorite of Coffee and Tea Ltd in linden hills, mpls, they've got a great selection of fresh roasted beans. Jim's been roasting there for a long long time, and is an artist when it comes to beans. I always ask for what's been roasted recently, and I am never dissapointed!

                        Coffee and Tea Ltd.
                        2730 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

                  2. re: Chris Mitra

                    Milk handling at Coffee and Tea is not their strength. Interesting roasts from sole source beans, and other delicious oddities is what they're about.

                    Milk handling at Kopplins and Black Sheep are sometimes perfect. Black Sheep is now roasting their own beans. Freshness does count.

                    Amore on Grand is decent, but not world class.

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