A taste of Minnesota’s coffee scene for National Coffee Day

Bag of coffee beans at Peace Coffee // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Bag of coffee beans at Peace Coffee // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Coffee in Minnesota has come a long way from your grandma’s percolator. Like craft beer and the slow food movement, Minnesotans are embracing coffee in all its forms. Lucky for us, we’ve got a bevy of new and seasoned purveyors to supply us with all the caffeinated beverages we can drink.

Not to be outdone by the specialty coffee on the East and West Coasts, Minnesota’s coffee scene is continuing to make a name for itself with innovative products, quality roasters, and notable coffee houses. Here are just a few of the happenings in our local coffee scene.


Dunn Brothers roast master Bob Vaseleski describes how roasting develops flavors in coffee beans // Photo courtesy of Dunn Brothers

Dunn Brothers roast master Bob Vaseleski describes how roasting develops flavors in coffee beans // Photo courtesy of Dunn Brothers

Dunn Brothers Coffee, the grandfather of coffee roasting in these parts, is celebrating their 30th anniversary this fall. The founders, brothers Ed and Dan Dunn, were committed to the idea of roasting beans in house, thereby providing the freshest cup of coffee possible. They’ve come a long way since opening the first shop on Grand Avenue. Dunn Brothers plans to commemorate three decades in the coffee business by rolling back the price of a cup of coffee to $1.29, the price of a cup in 1987. Additionally, they’ve released their 30th Anniversary Selection, the Kenya AA in stores.

Nitro cold press is all the rage; if you haven’t partaken in a cup you probably live under a rock. Dunn Brothers has been in the cold press game since 1994, long before it was cool. You can find Dunn Brothers nitro cold press on tap at select locations, including the Lowry Hill store.

New Product Launches

Speaking of nitro cold press, Blackeye Roasting Co. is looking to change the nitro cold press coffee game by putting their concoctions in cans. They moved into their new 30,000-square-foot brewing facility in St. Paul in September where they aim to produce 100,000 gallons of their cold brew a month. Founder and president Matt McGinn and his partner and COO Ryan Bachman have invented their own process to produce shelf-stable product. They will be canning four low fat, low sugar, and preservative free flavors. The highest octane brew clocks in at 260-milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of two-and-a-half Red Bulls. Consumers looking for a quick and tasty canned nitro cold press pick-me-up will find Blackeye cans in supermarkets and convenience stores in 25 states in the next year.

Big Watt Bev. Co Circuit Bender // Photo via Big Watt's Instagram

Big Watt Cold Beverage Co. Circuit Bender // Photo via Big Watt’s Instagram

Just down the road, Big Watt Cold Beverage Co., sister company to Five Watt Coffee, launched its cold press in cans this August. Their canned brew has no added preservatives, stabilizers, or flavor-altering pasteurization, and a 12-month shelf life. You can find their cans at any Five Watt Coffee location, or in select retailers nationwide.

Bad Larry’s Cold Hard Coffee, a booze-infused cold press coffee product, was launched this past May. At 6% ABV, Bad Larry’s is a mixture of Blackeye’s cold press coffee and malted grain alcohol.

If cold press isn’t your thing, but you are still in the market for a healthy, energizing alternative to the energy drink, Bizzy Coffee has you covered. Bizzy Coffee launched its cold brew coffee shot in June and is touring the country promoting it. Bizzy Coffee Shots come in three flavors: black, vanilla, and caramel, and are designed to be consumed alone or added to protein shakes or smoothies. Alex French describes the coffee shot as “the Red Bull for the next generation.” They are a featured product on Amazon and available at various supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide. Moreover, French hopes you’ll find his product in every bar in the world. He envisions bartenders serving up a Bizzy Beer, or an ale or lager with a Bizzy Coffee Shot.

Seasonal Releases

Beans fall from the roaster at Bootstrap Coffee Roasters // Photo via Bootstrap's Instagram

Beans fall from the roaster at Bootstrap Coffee Roasters // Photo via Bootstrap’s Instagram

Meanwhile, two local coffee roasters are releasing their fall roasts. Bootstrap Coffee Roasters specializes in fresh, seasonal single-origin releases in one- to two- month runs. The fall season will feature roasts from Papua New Guinea and Peru, where it’s harvest season. The Winter Break Holiday Blend will hit shelves in mid-November. While Bootstrap is primarily a wholesaler, this fall customers will have a chance to buy a cup of Bootstrap Coffee brewed fresh at the Sunday Linden Hills Farmers Market.

As days grow shorter and a chill creeps into the mornings, Peace Coffee welcomes back their fall seasonal the Nocturnal Brew. This year’s version will have beans from three distinctly different countries and three different processing methods: a honey processed Honduran, a natural/dry processed Ethiopian and a washed/wet processed Nicaraguan.

UP Coffee Roasters are a little different as far as the specialty coffee scene in Minnesota is concerned. They are a wholesale distributor, a roastery specializing in fair trade organic coffees, and a cafe all in one building. Collaboration is the name of their game.

Lately, they’ve been dipping their toe into the barrel-aged scene. “We are working on a batch of beans that were aged in a used whiskey barrel from Wander North distillery,” says cafe manager Jared Lindquist. “We age the unroasted beans in there for about a month before they are roasted. The flavor and aroma that the beans absorb is incredible. Then we do fun things like make a nitro cold press out of those beans, as well as using them as an espresso in an ‘Old Fashioned’ latte. Kind of like a coffee mocktail.”

They’ve also developed a relationship with Insight Brewing. The Banshee Cutter golden coffee ale features UP coffee, and UP frequently partners with Insight on events. This summer they collaborated on a Nitro Arnie Palmer. It’s made from cascara tea, or the dried fruit of the coffee cherry, and UP’s house lemonade then dry hopped like beer, and put on a nitro tap.

New Coffee Shops and Retail Locations

Northern Coffeeworks in downtown Minneapolis // Photo via Northern Coffeeworks' Instagram

Northern Coffeeworks in downtown Minneapolis // Photo via Northern Coffeeworks’ Instagram

Northern Coffeeworks is the new coffee shop on Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis that opened this summer. Beyond coffee, the cafe serves beer, wine, and food, such as salads, sandwiches, and cheese plates. Botany Coffee also opened this past summer in Minneapolis. There menu consists of coffee from Madcap, tea from Song Tea, pastries from Salty Tart, and milk from Autumnwood Farms.

Five Watt Coffee is opening two new stores this fall. Their new location in Northeast Minneapolis, just up the road from HeadFlyer Brewing, will feature beer and wine as well as their coffee lineup.

Arrowwood Coffee Roasters started with the vision of employing people with all abilities. After taking a few month hiatus, they are back in action with a ’73 Winnebago and a Kickstarter campaign to fund the conversion from vacation roadster to food truck. They aim to be on the road serving their fresh roasted coffee and eats by early 2018.