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Sep 13, 2006 03:25 AM

[MSP] Places in Twin Cities for espresso?

Coffee geeks, ahoy!

Where can I find:
- the best crema?
- the most careful brew?
- the richest beans?
- the greatest balance?

I'm looking for balls to the wall artisanal ridiculousness. People who take their espresso as seriously as I take my beer.


PS. sup chris,raka,alice,paz

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  1. I am not a huge coffee person, so your shout out to me might be wasted. There is a place in uptown called Krema which always seemed to me to be top notch.

    1. There are alot of burned beans in this here town... I'm presently pulling the Bean Factory's espresso roast (the roast they use in their own machina). On first taste it's a bit like an ash tray, but it grows on you.

      A business that offers subtle roasts, and delivers consistant high (over the top) quality coffee drinks is a needle in a haystack. I'd favor Gilli in Florence, Blue Bottle in San Francisco, but the travel expense...

      The only way to approximate a truly great espresso drink is to do it yourself. A really good local roaster helps immeasurably. Blue Bottle has a subscription program. There's a local fellow, Jeremy Raths, who runs a business called The Roastery who can't be beat in the local market. Both these roasters do small quantities with extreme care and attention to freshness.

      The Pavoni Europiccolo is an affordable sometimes finnicky machine which approximates the proper variability to tweak a truly great shot. The Solis Maestro is an affordable countertop burr mill.

      Good luck.

      1. You might try Coffee & Tea Ltd in Linden Hills, a small upscale purveyer of high priced beans. I'm not sure they pull espresso on the premises but I 'spect they do.

        Also, while it's a large and growing chain and thus suspect, I've always found that Dunn Bros sells consistently good if not stellar (for that you might have to go to Rome) coffee and beans.

        Karl, I'm curious: what would a home espesso machine such as you describe above set me back?

        5 Replies
        1. re: plautus

          Coffee & Tea Ltd does make espresso on-site. They also roast all their beans on-site, in small batches.

          And if you want to buy a single brewed cup from the rare and expensive beans, you can ask for that too. One afternoon while Bill bagged my purchase, I lifted the lid from the St. Helena's beans to take a sniff. That coffee is treated like a vintage harvest and beans were going for $75+/lb that year. C&TL's allotted shipment was very small, perhaps ten pounds, and yet Bill offered to sell me a single cup from what he had. I was grateful -- and mindful enough of the singularity to refrain from diluting it with milk. Sipping slowly, I carried it along on the rest of my neighborhood errands. The aroma wafted through the stores so distinctly that two different people stopped to ask me about my drink. It was amazing.

          1. re: KTFoley

            hey poivre! :)

            I was also going to suggest Coffee & Tea Ltd in Linden Hills. I think they really know what they are doing, and they even say so -- I believe their menu lists their lattes as "made with the appropriate amount of milk." :)

            Sounds like KTFoley is a regular there! I have only had their "default" grind, but it too was more subtle and complex than other espressos that I have had. The only comparable cup I've had in the US was at Caffe del Doge in Palo Alto (which you also must try the next time you are in the Bay Area).

          2. re: plautus

            I would try the beans at the St Paul/ Grand Ave Dunn Bros - they have excellent turnover and roast everything there. The senior staff can help you out. The coffee is excellent as well. I can't stomach the Caribou nor Starb any longer.

            1. re: plautus

              The Europiccolo goes for about $600 and the Solis for about $140. There are of course tons of options in the counter top espresso world. Lever action versus pump is a pivotal decision. It's kind of a matter of your own mechanical inclination. Lever machines are a bit more hands on - like a ferrari. Pump machines are a bit less tactile - more like lincoln continentals. There's a longer learning curve with a lever machine because of the greater variabiity. Grind, measurement, and compaction all have greater importance. The quality of the shot is noticably different (I'd say better) and once you're on top of your learning curve consistancy is a given.

              There's a mecca for lever machines in San Francisco called Thomas Cara. You can drop some serious dollars on really cool machines here.

              1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

                Does anyone know anything about the Rancilio Silvia? I have been looking around for the lowest possible price point at which I can make superb espresso at home and came up with that just through the intarweb.

            2. To me, Dunn Bros beans taste burnt. In fact the whole Grand Ave & Snelling Ave corner reeks of burnt coffee.

              I prefer J&S Bean Factory (2 locations, Randolph btw Snelling and Hamline, and Thomas & Hamline in the midway). French Press Cafe used to have great coffee but I haven't been there in a while.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lindseyanne

                I totally agree about Dunn Bros, I have always felt it tasted burnt!
                Again, any thoughts on Krema in Uptown?

                1. re: AliceS

                  Do you mean Sonny's Crema Cafe on 34th and Lyndale? Sonny's has great ice cream, one of the best in town. But the coffee is nothing special.

                  ps. Also has great outdoor sitting.

                2. re: lindseyanne

                  I just wanted to post another positive for the Bean Factory at Thomas and Hamline. I've just discovered it, and love the coffee there. For my money, it's the best there is within my range, and that includes a couple of Dunn Bros., Grand Avenue shops, and some good independents. The atmosphere is light and pleasant, they play good jazz, and it's right next to a lovely yarn shop, Borealis Yarns.

                  For those of you still looking for their "best" coffee shop, give this place a try and tell us what you think.

                3. Man. I am sad. I thought for sure in such a foodie town there would be hidden nooks for coffee nookie.

                  Too bad....