The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Coffee Talk: A Caffeine Junkie's Review of Local Coffee Bars

By Eva Thea Kuhn

Cosmic’s Coffee Bar
189 Snelling Ave
651.646.4788Cosmic’s is my least favorite place for coffee, simply because it’s not what it seems. The entire premise of Cosmic’s is to act as a bar replacement for recovering alcoholics. Therefore other patrons seem skittish, and if they don’t recognize you, they don’t like you.

It’s clear that one does not come to Cosmic’s to get coffee, but rather to mingle with others who may not be in one’s weekly A.A. meeting. This is not a quiet place to do your homework, nor to re-up in between classes: the coffee ($1.45 a cup) is weak and watery. If you try and sit down for long periods of time, other people stare until you leave.

Though there is free Wifi, don’t bother. Walk another block to Cahoots and caffeinate with your own kind.

1562 Selby Ave

Cahoots is my favorite coffee bar in St. Paul. The coffee is consistently fresh and strong. In the summer, iced cold presses are a godsend from midwestern humidity, as is the back patio, where you can sit in the shade and smoke cigarettes if the mood strikes you.

The staff is friendly and includes Macalester kids always willing to wait on a fellow student. The range of tea is impressive and soothing, even to a caffeine junkie; I suggest a pot of African Skies on bitterly cold nights. Food offered includes (somewhat) overpriced half sandwiches ($3.75), soup and the ubiquitous hummus platter. Cookies and cakes pleasantly accompany drinks. I recommend the cardamom cookie ($1.75) with a large skim latte to walk away sufficiently buzzed and sugar-sated.

There is a definite group of regulars at Cahoots that might allow you into their inner circle if you show up frequently enough. The calm atmosphere and cozy back room allow for extended study sessions. You can even get a little shut-eye on the couch there in between your International Studies readings. Or, sit in the front and let your mind wander as you stare at ornate Turkish tapestries on the walls. If you re-think your Liberal Arts education or win the lottery, beautifully woven rugs are available for purchase.

Cahoots has maintained its neighborly feel and excellent coffee in the three years I’ve been going there. Although it’s always frequented by Macalester students, you won’t hear any loud recaps of Friday night’s kegger or lack thereof at the next table over. Free Wifi, and they play M.IA. all the time. What could be better?

Coffee News
1662 Grand Ave

Despite it’s visible popularity with Macalester students, I find Coffee News mediocre at best. This coffee bar / restaurant offers a wide array of breakfast options, salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts, but all are completely overpriced. Service ranges from attentive and efficient to downright surly, and can make you ask yourself why you just handed over $10 for a salad. Or $4 for a large skim chai latte.

It’s hard to discount Coffee News’s atmosphere and location, which probably contributes to its cultish appeal. Upper-classmen not on the meal plan at Café Mac might enjoy the see-and-be-seen aspect of running into peers, but be prepared for awkward conversations by the condiments if you want a reprieve from the bubble. Last night’s mistake might have just remedied his/her hangover with an admittedly satisfying breakfast sandwich ($5.95).

Still, I find the coffee at Coffee News burnt, and the espresso drinks sickening. For those who like a stomachache with their java, the “bottomless” cup of coffee ($1.61) might appeal. If you’re simply seeking quick caffeine, stick to Caribou. If you’re craving garlic fries, Coffee News is up your alley. One redeeming factor remains: the free refills on soda. Free Wifi as well, though it’s slow and frustrating.

Brewberry’s Coffee Place
475 Fairview South

Brewberry’s is a must for students who want a cup of joe without bumping into potentially awkward crushes or everyone in their 10:50. Though it’s not within walking distance, change of scene can make the car ride worth it. Plan an afternoon of stopping there for coffee before shopping on Ford Parkway. Brewberry’s is more family-oriented than most coffee bars: look for the pictures of customer’s babies covering one wall. Staff is young though, and for the most part efficient. Requesting an extra shot of espresso can lead to confusion, but the drinks are always delicious.

Jaded Macalester guys may be pleased to learn that St Kate’s girls come here to do their homework, perhaps due to the impressive array of sugar-free syrups. I was pleasantly surprised by a medium skim latte with sugar free raspberry ($3.85). Though it sounds overwhelmingly sweet, the prime nature of Brewberry coffee beans saves the day.

In the summer, Brewberry’s serves ice cream, and there are always tantalizing cookies, flourless and regular ($1.25, $1.07) and freshly made sandwiches ($6.12, including bag of chips). If you have your roommate’s car and an afternoon to kill, head to Brewberry’s. Free Wifi.

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