Taraccino coffee cup drawing

Taraccino Coffee

Monday, July 30th, 2012

First Impression: Coffee! I was a little lost walking around the area because I hadn’t looked at a very detailed map beforehand. The cute sign outside proclaiming, “Taraccino Coffee” caught my eye. The first things I noticed were the awesome couches and walls. I felt warm and welcome just walking in the door.

Appearance/Atmosphere: The walls are a warm orange; the ceiling’s tan. One wall is exposed brick, covered with pictures of flowers for sale. Most of the floor is carpeted, with the exception of the tiled path leading from the door to the counter. Lights hang from the high ceilings, and the big window in front lets in a lot of light. A fan/air conditioner kept the room cool (it was 87˚F and sunny outside). There are a lot of square tables in the carpeted area: small tables with 2 green cushioned chairs. There are two plush faux leather sofas, an oversized chair, and a coffee table. The counter has very clear “Order Here” and “Pick Up Here” signs hanging. Their menu, located on the wall behind the counter) is  terrific. They have a wide variety of drinks and specials listed. Also on the counter is small bakery. Along one of the walls there is a bookshelf, full of books and coffee for sale. A doorway to the left of the counter leads to the shop next door.

Vibe: Chill, relaxed, and extremely friendly. I felt really welcome here, and everyone seemed nice.

Music: Indie, relaxed. Again, it was all very chill. I recognized one of the bands that played (Passion Pit). The rest of the music was new to me, but it was at a perfect volume level. I was able to listen to it without it being overpowering.

Coffee: I had an Iced Mocha because of the heat. It was good, but I wouldn’t recommend getting it iced. The ice melted and diluted my drink. Something to keep in mind when ordering iced drinks! I noticed one of their specialty drinks was a mix of espresso and chai. Maybe next time I’ll try that!

Service: Nice! The barista was really friendly. She was the only one working and make my drink quickly. A man from the store next door came into the shop and offered everyone (the 4 people) free bags of bagels. Sweet! I don’t know how often that happens, but it was great.

Notes: Go and get lost in a book or something for a few hours. It’s such a cute place that I know I’ll be going back. It’s also right on the bus route – bonus!

Update (12/11/12)While typing this up, I remembered how great this place is. I’ll try to go back soon and re-review it. Hopefully it’s just as great in the winter. Maybe it’ll be my new favorite study place. We’ll see!


Coffee cup drawingI apologize for abruptly ceasing my coffee shop review posts. There were a few reasons I stopped posting (broken camera and laziness, mostly), but that is no excuse. I have four more reviews to post, from the end of July and into early August. After that, I’m going to try something new.

Since my last review (which I have yet to post), I’ve started college at the U, moved, and gotten a job. A lot has changed, but one thing has stayed the same: my love of coffee and coffee shops. My plan is to re-review the coffee shops I go to a lot, because my opinions have changed. I’m also going (to attempt) to try out some new shops.

Any coffee shop recommendations that you love cozying up in during these cold winter days?


Remember, the best place to view snow is in front of a fireplace with a mug of coffee in your hand. Stay warm, my fellow caffeinated Minnesotans!

Dunn Bros cup drawing

Dunn Bros Coffee

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

First Impression: While wandering around downtown, I decided that a cup of coffee was in order. I headed to the nearest spot: Dunn Bros on Nicollet. I usually avoid “chain” coffee shops, preferring instead the local ones, but I thought I’d give this one a shot. From the outside it looks very unassuming and friendly, with nice chairs and tables. I didn’t write this review very eloquently, so please bear with my “stream of consciousness” style.

Appearance/Atmosphere: Orange table, black round tables, funky chairs, granite type floors, office building feel. Clean, comfy chairs, lights in the ceiling, large coffee on left center. Chairs/seating in front and on right side. The floor is mostly stone, carpeted in the front. Wooden trim. There isn’t a lot of personality in the shop, and it seems a bit generic, one of the reasons I don’t frequent chain coffee shops very often. The color is bland: tans, browns, greens. Star shaped light hanging in the doorway. Large window in front, and nice outdoor seating. I like the ceiling: tan, half circle windows at the top in front. Lights in the ceiling, higher ceiling, square, white in the center of the room. Nice pictures on the walls. Lanterns on the walls with electric lights that looked light candles. Fake plants scattered about. Yellow walls.

Vibe: Business-casual. It seems like a good place to take a break, but not a long one. The vibe is jeans with a suit jacket, if that makes sense.

Music: A wide mix. The last song that played was “Purple Rain” by Prince, but they have been playing a lot of different types. It’s louder, but the place wasn’t too busy. I’d imagine the music would be at a good level during the busier hours. I think it may have been a radio station playing, because there were a few ads.

Service: Very good. The workers were friendly and efficient, joking around a bit as they made my drink. The coffee was made very quickly and looked awesome. Cool, interesting workers here: one of the best parts.

Coffee: Good! My drink looked awesome in the ceramic cup with a mountain of whipped cream on top. It tasted as good as it looked.

Notes: There aren’t many independent coffee shops (that I’ve found) in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. However, there are a lot of Starbucks’ and Caribou’s. This Dunn Bros in tucked away on Nicollet Mall. I’ll definitely be coming back when I happen to be craving coffee downtown, but I wouldn’t make a special trip. One of the downsides is that they close at 6 PM.

Corner Coffee cup drawing

Corner Coffee

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

First Impression: This looks like a cute place! It’s not located on a corner, for those that are looking. I ate lunch here earlier (during my break at my temp job), but came back after I was done to sit and enjoy some caffeine and relaxation. It looks like an awesome hangout place.

Appearance/Atmosphere: The shop is located in the warehouse district of Minneapolis. There are nice tables and chairs with umbrellas for those that wish to brave the Minnesota elements. Today was extremely hot and muggy, so no one was outside. Inside, the shop is composed of three rooms, all with a nice wooden floor. The first is more of a hangout, relaxing place, with multiple sofas and a few tables. The sofas are burnt orange-colored. Walls are an earthy green, the same throughout. There’s a really cool wooden pallet hanging from the ceiling with lights. An alternative chandelier! There’s also awesome works of art on the walls.

In the second room, the “main” room, there ordering station is located. The counter is black and there’s a big menu above it. They also have menus to look at. The tables are all different. There’s a window between the 1st and 2nd room, keeping the feeling open. There are high ceilings and tall windows on one side, with tables to sit and look outside. The trim is the same color green as the walls. Fans are located on the ceiling, as well as cool lights. At the coffee bar there’s a nice bakery and some black stools to sit at. One the far side of the bar there’s a computer for people to use.

In the third room there are more tables and chairs to sit at. One wall is earthy red, and there’s a car near the kitchen to bus your own dishes. Windows line the whole side. It’s all very big and open! There’s a stage/platform area with a couch and some chairs. Speakers are set up and I heard they sometimes have live music. I also noticed a projector pointed at the stage area and curtains in the wide doorway between the two rooms. The curtains are open now, but could be closed. Behind the stage there’s an awesome white backdrop and light hanging. The light looks like a giant tin can with holes punched in it, hung over a light bulb. The result is a spattering of stars on the white backdrop. It’s pretty empty right now, but it’s busier around lunchtime. A lot of stylishly dressing people come here!

Vibe: Calm, relaxed, earthy, and thoughtful. Similar to the feeling you get from listening to music late at night while stargazing.

Music: I love it! The music itself is louder than the vocals, so it isn’t overpowering. The songs playing are perfect for the mood: chill, relaxed, contemplative.

Service: Splendid, both times I was here today! The workers were friendly and nice, and chatted with me for a while. They brought my coffee out to my table and asked how my day was going.

Coffee: I had a Turtle Mocha ($4.10). It came in a cute dark purple mug, and was delicious. Rich, sweet, and adorable: just how I like it. The cups came in various sizes, shapes and colors.

Notes: Great place, good people, awesome location, yummy food, and a fantastic vibe! I’ll be back! The place would be perfect on a rainy day. It’s a little off the beaten path, but I great shop to visit. Take a walk and check it out!

Bob's Java Hut cup drawing

Bob’s Java Hut

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

First Impression: Walking in, I noticed a large group of people gathered in the back. It looked almost like a party was ending. They all left soon after arrived, so I never found out what they were doing. There was a good amount of people at the coffee shop for a Saturday afternoon. Though I didn’t see any motorcycles outside (at first), I did notice a few bicycles. This place is a biker coffee shop, and you can tell by looking at the small motorcycle on display in the back above the restroom.

Bob's lightsAppearance/Atmosphere: I really liked the design and color scheme in Bob’s. The walls are a sea-foam green at the bottom, stripped thin white and then thicker black, and then red-orange at the top. The ceiling continues the color scheme: most is sea-foam green, then there’s a large stripe of their “33” logo in orange, and the rest is white. Black trim lines the windows and black door, and the black continues with the coffee bar, stools, lights, and fans. The top half of the side windows contain hand painted murals of various motocross scenes. The light fixtures are industrial and hang along the bar and above the tables. There’s also a large, detailed menu located to the left of the bar. The tables are steel or dark fake wood, and the chairs are wooden with green cushions. The floor is a dark worn wood. Speakers are places in every corner to keep the a consistent music volume level. There is a huge window in the front with tables and chairs, perfect for people-watching. I’ve already seen a lot of interest people: a guy riding his bike across the street while carrying a rocking horse, another guy riding a bike two bikes tall, and that cute worker from Urban Bean on 33rd & Bryant just walked by.

Vibe: Great place to hang out and catch up with friends. Many people are bikers in leather, but there are also some college age people as well.

Music: Older rock, loud enough to continue working. The speakers keep the volume level consistent.

Service: Nothing special. When the barista took my order she was nice, but I didn’t have any interaction with her other than that. A few times I noticed there wasn’t anyone behind the bar — I’m not sure where they were.

Coffee: I had a simple, black coffee, light roast. I didn’t drink it plain of course, I never have black coffee. I sweetened it with half and half, liquid sugar, and honey. One of the best things about Bob’s was their wide variety of things to add to your drink. Soy milk, skim milk, half and half, regular sugar, liquid sugar, cinnamon, and honey (which I’d never tried in coffee before, but it’s surprisingly good. Try it! Yum!) Very impressive. They also have two discounts, each for $0.25 — bringing in your own cup, or having a valid student ID. Good way to encourage students to come. Also they have a $5.00 credit card minimum.

Notes: I’d recommend going earlier in the day, because the biker crowd tends to come in later. I don’t have a problem with bikers (They’re awesome!) but I felt a little out of my element. It was a good place to chill and get some work done, though not the best for late night study sessions. Bring your own cup when you stop by!

The Beat cup drawing

The Beat Coffeehouse

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

First Impression: Is it closed? Where is everyone? There’s some nice seating outside; Last time I walked by it was packed. I like the layout: small front room to order coffee in, and a large (though empty) room to hangout in.

The Beat signAppearance/Atmosphere: Orange walls, one is brown. They have a really impressive light set up, which would be amazing for live music. There was a sigh outside advertising “Live Music Tonight”, but they didn’t have a band. Their speaker system is also really awesome for live bands. There are two pianos. A big rusted sign hangs from the ceiling with “The Beat” logo. Plywood floor. Simple, wooden chairs and tables. Cool, abstract art on the walls. Window wallOne wall has three fake windows, lit from behind, which make up the backdrop for performances. lights hang from the ceiling in square, orange boxes. For seating, there are the tables, three sofas, two new burlap benches, and stools.

Vibe: Dead, at least when I was there. I’ve driven by before and it’s always looked busy. Tonight was just quieter. I really like this place and will have to come back on a busier night to get the true feel of it.

Music: Really great. Mary commented a few times on how nice it was. The volume was perfect for reading or hanging out. The baristas controlled the music and it was mostly happy, indie pop music like Kimbra. Very good! They also have live bands most nights.

Service: Awesome! The barista was very friendly and talked to us as he made our drinks. He even admitted that the place was dead.

The barista was very friendly and happy to chat with us, not only because we were the only customers. I would give this place another try.. maybe when they have live music. — Mary, who loves soy chai with no foam

Coffee: Very good. I had a White Mocha for $4.00. I asked for a small and he was going to put it in the small to-go cup because it was bigger. I prefer ceramic mugs, so I asked if he could pour the small into the mug (because I was being complicated). He said he’d just make a medium and keep the ratio of espresso and milk the same. The small was $3.50 and the medium was $4.25. I had something in between! It was delicious. I’ve never had anything like it before, but it was really good. If you visit The Beat, I recommend trying it!

Notes: I’ll be coming back on a busier night to get a real feel of the place. It was really nice and a fun place to hang out on a quiet night, so I’d expect it’ll be a lot different on a busier night!

Overflow cup drawing

Overflow Espresso Cafe

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Tuesday morning: I left my journal at home! Ah! I remembered this while riding the bus, and I’m sure a look of complete terror, horror, and frustration crossed my face. I had a freak out moment. Then, a moment of calm, because I thought, “Hey, I could write on those old papers in my backpack.” The calm only lasted until I remembered that I’d cleaned out those papers the night before. Imagine my fury at myself! I slumped back in the seat, resigned with the thought that I’d have to write the review on napkins.

Tuesday Equation

Me + High Temps + Walking + Anger about forgetting my journal + The job interview I left part way through because I didn’t want to work there + A new city + Construction = A very tired, thirsty, sweaty girl in a skirt

First Impression: Salvation! For those of you in the Twin Cities, or anywhere besides the Arctic, you’re well aware of the intense heat we’ve been having. Combine that with other variables, and you get a sweaty, tired mess. There are these cute black tables outside on the porch. Inside, the first thing I saw was a giant, overflowing cup. How clever! Overflow Cafe has an overflowing cup! On the giant cup there are many different quotes, such as, “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” The cup is on a large, round high table with chairs around it. I think it’s my new favorite place.

Appearance/Atmosphere: Aside from the giant cup table, there is a myriad of places to sit. Maybe you want to curl up on an arm-chair in the corner, or gather around the fireplace on a cold snowy night. Maybe you have a big paper due and need a table by an outlet; they have a ton of those. Study at the window bar if that’s what tickles your fancy. Or you could pick my favorite: the loft overlooking the whole place, with 2 arm chairs and 8 separate tables. Whatever kind of coffee drinking location you prefer, they probably have it.

They have a beautiful bar and menu design (hand written on a board). The vibe is studious, and most people are working on computers, but there are still some people hanging out and talking. Most of the customers are college age, because this is located on the U of MN campus, but I’ve still seen quite a few other people as well. Recent grads, parents, grandparents, they’re all here. Tables are simple black and the chairs are clean-cut dark wood. Some places use furniture to add to the personality of their business. If that’s what Overflow is trying to do, then they have a great personality: simple and uncluttered. They’re more interested in who’s sitting at the table than what they’re sitting on. This place is about the coffee and the people.

The ceiling is black and has copper pipes running along it. Walls are tan and an earthy red, with some places of exposed brick. Most of the floor is concrete, with the exception of the loft and fireplace area, which have carpet. Did you catch that? I’ve mentioned the fireplace twice, nonchalantly, when I actually think it’s one of the coolest and most unique aspects of this place.

Thankfully there’s AC here, and the fans keep the air circulating. The walls also have wooden trim partway up. Huge, tall windows line the front and sides, brightening it up with lots of natural light. Another cool thing that I just noticed is the stack of games next to the fireplace. There’s a huge clock on the wall, and a lovely staircase leading up to the loft.

Music: Very quiet and unimportant. Truthfully, I haven’t really noticed it. It’s good background noise. Indie, soft rock.

Service: Really good! There were two people working at the counter when I ordered. The girl took my order at the register, and the guy immediately began making my drink. How efficient! They were really nice and the barista found some computer paper from the back for me to write on. When they weren’t creating drinks, they were cleaning.

Coffee: I ordered an Iced Mocha (16 oz, $4.25). It was made very quickly and I took it to my seat. The drink was in a plastic coffee cup with a bendy straw. Yum! Their menu had a lot of choices and I’m excited to try them. They also have other drinks, breakfast food, and daily specials.

Bathroom: Whoa, they have a crazy, futuristic sink. Seriously, it’s worth checking out. Other than that, the bathroom was nice and clean!

Notes: This is a charming place, right on campus. I’ll be coming back! I like that they have two sets of doors at the entrance. That way people aren’t bringing the weather directly inside. Also, the 16 bus drives right by here!