I was worried that gourmet coffee in the Twin Cities was in danger of shark-jumping. I’ve often strolled into one of Minneapolis’ polished java palaces only to remember something that makes me angry about “coffee”.
And by “coffee” in quotation marks, I mean that all-encompassing attitude and aesthetic that subsumes high-end coffee shops and has nothing to do with the beverage itself. When a barista wrinkles their nose and asks me if I need something like I’m a vagrant looking for a handout, well, that’s why I’d just rather buy good beans by the pound and make it at home.
When I first heard about Five Watt Coffee last year, I was immediately concerned. Cocktail bitters in your coffee drinks? Oh crap, another un-self-aware parody of “coffee”. Instead, it’s just coffee. And damn good coffee at that. Thank goodness.
Five Watt sets itself apart through the simple act of not taking themselves too seriously. They’re not looking to re-invent the beverage, they don’t claim authority over roasting methods. Hell, they don’t even roast their beans in-house (they source from the wonderful Kickapoo Coffee Roasters). Instead, they pull a mean espresso and have a small menu of inventive drinks.
Count me as a huge fan of the London Calling. It begins with the flagship Laoshan black tea from Verdant Tea, and gets the English treatment with a dose of milk infused with fennel bitters. The drink comes together with specks of vanilla bean floating around the mug. It’s remarkable how complimentary black tea and vanilla are as flavors. And that steamy mug of milky goodness, with a pastry from Patisserie 46, in a casual, friendly environment, it all makes me wonder how coffee ever became so complicated to begin with.
Five Watt Coffee, 3745 Nicollet Ave S., Minneapolis, 612.259.7519