Few things are as necessary to college students as strong coffee. Luckily, UMN students have plenty of options on campus to get their caffeine buzz on campus, where two Starbucks, a Dunn Brothers, an Einstein Brothers, a Caribou Coffee, and The Wise Owl cafe compete for sleep-deprived customers.
But what if it’s after hours? What if you need a change of scenery? What if you’re stuck in U of M housing and trying desperately to get away from your roommate?
We have answers for you, friend. Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the Midwest for coffee, and there are a plethora of choices within a short bike ride of the UMN campus. Here are four of the best local options.
Located in a former frat house on 16th Avenue, Bordertown has a homey, relaxed atmosphere perfect for long study sessions. Their coffee is ethically sourced and locally roasted, but the real stars are the baked goods — banana bread, muffins, and enormous cookies. As a non-profit, they’re committed to a variety of social justice causes, including the Red Cross and Not for Sale Minnesota, an organization working to end human trafficking. Plus, there’s a “library room” you can reserve for group meetings, book clubs, or study groups. Just be sure to do so during the week — like many students, Bordertown takes the weekends off.
- Cafe Alma
Cafe Alma is located on the ground floor of the luxurious Hotel Alma, and it’s attached to the hotel’s elegant (and expensive) restaurant. But don’t let that scare you — the cafe is open, inviting, and inexpensive, featuring coffee by Wisconsin roasters Ruby and pastries and light fare from the restaurant’s innovative kitchen. Plus, the interior design is beautiful, a quirky mix of industrial chic and classic Scandinavian.
Spyhouse has four locations in Minneapolis, with two somewhat close to UMN. The Northeast location is situated within an old mattress factory. Exposed brick, lots of wood, and enormous open windows define the space, which also houses Spyhouse’s roasting facility. The coffee is delicious and complex, roasted with care and precision, and as with most third-wave coffee shops, the options for how you want your cup brewed can seem endless. But the counter staff is friendly and approachable, eager to share their love of quality beans with the customers who line up every day for a steaming cup.
- Bachelor Farmer
If you’re like most college students, you’re probably broke. So the idea of biking across the river from University of Minnesota Twin Cities housing to one of the best restaurants in Minneapolis probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you need a hot cup of joe. But Bachelor Farmer — winner of a James Beard award and uniformly ecstatic reviews for its sly update on traditional Scandinavian food — has quietly become one of the best places in the city for coffee and pastries during the day. The attached cafe just down the hall from the dining room is bright, cozy, and best of all, relatively cheap. Whether you just need a great cappuccino or you want to linger with a cup of strong coffee and a cream puff pastry (seriously, try it), this is the perfect place to linger over your notes and procrastinate on writing your term papers. The decor alone is worth the trip.