Minnesota. We’re nationally famous for fancy artisanal cocktails—you remember that Marvel Bar was a semi-finalist as the best bar in the country for the last two years running, right? We’re nationally famous for beer: Recall that Surly has a perfect 100-point beer from Beer Advocate with Darkness. (Hell scored 86 points; Cacao Bender 96.) And, we’ve achieved national prominence with hot coffee—never forget that Caribou is one of the 10 biggest coffee chains in the country and was founded right here, and the third wave coffee surge has been transforming the cities for the last five years.
Well, it turns out we should also be famous for our ability to blend artisanal refreshment with our powerhouse coffee heritage like the folks below do so well. So, go ahead, behold the awesome iced-coffee scene of the Twin Cities. Did I miss any? Throw them into the comments and we’ll have the iced-coffee resource we need to sustain us through the hot, sticky days of summer—and until November slams down upon us like 30 ice cubes in an espresso.
Cocktail-ish Coffees: Five Watt
The king of the imaginative, exuberant, super-fun iced-coffee scene in Minnesota is without question newcomer Five Watt. They have the very best fun iced cold press drinks. One called Hendrick’s, like the gin, is made with a house-made juniper berry and basil simple syrup, and finished with grapefruit bitters and cream. It all comes together in just a lively piney fragrant way, not too perfumey, just 30 times more fragrant than a regular iced-coffee, in a good way. The Big Easy, with a house-made chicory root and nutmeg simple syrup and black walnut bitters, has all sorts of big and deep bottom notes. It’s the Malbec or Tannat of coffee.
But that’s not all! Five Watt also has “shakeratos” (pronounced: SHAKE-ehr-atto); fresh espresso shaken with lots of ice, combined with cherry flavors and black walnut bitters and served with a luxardo cherry garnish—just like your favorite Manhattan. When a piece of equipment they have on order arrives, Five Watt will also have craft sodas and new sparkling coffee drinks.
Why so much coffee madness? Because co-owner Lee Carter thinks its fun and cool, that’s why: “I’ve always been creative, I like making things, and when I figured out what I wanted to do with my life it happened to be coffee. I was home making a cocktail one day and I got to thinking. So I went to South Lyndale Liquors and bought everything that looked cool. I walked out of there with 12 bottles of bitters and no booze.” And here we are. Most astonishing is that the bitters and various add-ins don’t make the coffees taste frou-frou, just very much better. 3745 Nicollet Ave S., Mpls., 612-259-7519, fivewattcoffee.com
Angeleeno: Angry Catfish
What has four shots of espresso, agave syrup, and will give you the energy to bicycle to space? The Angeleeno, the new super-mega-ultra-energy drink from third wave coffee shop and bicycle outfitter Angry Catfish. 4208 28th Ave. S., Mpls., 612-722-1538, angrycatfishbicycle.com
Avocado Iced Coffee: Peace Coffee
Everyone’s crazy about avocados right now, with their good-fats and their ultra-creamy texture. But in coffee? Yes, blended up with espresso and sweetened condensed milk at Peace Coffee’s Wonderland Park home base, you can call this a full on breakfast. 3262 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls., 612-877-7760, peacecoffeeshop.com
Homemade Caramel: Canteen
Making news as home of the first artisanal toast bar in Minnesota, Canteen is also making homemade caramel for your cold press—yes, owner Liz Abene has some of that old school candy kitchen know-how. 3255 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls., facebook.com/canteengirlmpls
Solar Flare: Quixotic Coffee
Why are you not putting a citrus-orange syrup in your cold press with local Autumnwood farm milk? St. Paul gem Quixotic is, and that’s a zingy good thing.769 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-699-5448, quixoticcoffee.com
The Waffle: Kopplin's
Why are you messing around with frappuccinos and those messes when St. Paul coffee pioneer Kopplin’s will satisfy your coffee sweet tooth in style? A scoop of Izzy’s ice-cream, almond milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup will turn espresso into the affogato of the summer. 2038 Marshall Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-0457, kopplinscoffee.com
Nitrogen Pushed Cold Press: Spyhouse
You’re familiar with nitrogen-pushed beer such as Guinness—the nitrogen makes the beer extra creamy and you’re familiar with nitrogen-preserved wine, found in fancy wine-bars where nitrogen systems replace the air in a bottle of open wine with nitrogen, thus preventing oxidation. Well, Spyhouse in Northeast is taking it to cold press, filling beer-keg-like kegs with their cold press, then dispensing them using a nitrogen system. What results tastes notably fresh and broadly chocolatey, not winey, sort of like a Guiness, in a coffee way. 945 NE Broadway St., Mpls., 612-345-4348, spyhousecoffee.com
Fresh Hopped: Victory 44
If you’re a Minnesota microbrew hound, you’re likely familiar with our many, many good coffee-beers: Surly’s Coffee Bender, Big Wood Brewery’s Morning Wood Coffee Stout, Flat Earth Brewing's Black Helicopter Coffee Stout, and like that. Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander—up at Victory 44 they’re putting fresh hops in the coffee, for that same crystalline bitter fresh edge of a coffee beer, without the pesky beer. Finally, you can enjoy fresh hops in your car! 2203 44th Ave. N., Mpls. 612-588-2228, victory-44.com
Urban Bean: Feeling Tropical
Urban Bean is in a tropical way this summer, with specials such as Coconut Lavender iced lattes and Ginger Root Maple cold press—if you’re more of a purist, try the house-made bourbon-base vanilla in a cold press with a shot of cream. 2401 Lyndale Ave., Mpls., urbanbeancoffee.com
Photos for Five Watt by Caitlin Abrams; Photo for Canteen Girl by Eliesa Johnson; Photo for Spyhouse by Katie Harris