Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Espresso Royal- A Great College Coffee House

Thank god for places like Espresso Royal. For the longest time in my college life, the only coffee shop I frequented was Espresso Expose over in Stadium Village. It was a neat little place for a while until they completely overhauled the place ripping out the very things that made it cool and kind of a trendy hole in the wall coffee shop. There was nothing special about Espresso Expose in terms of its coffee, but its sense of trendieness certainly was there in great abundance before the remodel. After the remodel, the place became very yuppie-ish and almost looked like a rip-off of a Starbuck with Sandwiches/Cookies and etc. The Coffee shop that my brother had introduced me to my freshman year was gone.

Gone were the broken down benches and tables that were the best seats in the house replaced by the suburban typical tables and chairs. In addition, Expose does not offer free WI-FI with the purchase of a beverage or even for frequenting their place of business. Instead there is an Internet provider called Netsurf Wireless who has wired all of stadium village for subscription and pay-for use WI-FI. This is stupid because the University Wireless is just a few blocks from Stadium Village and anyone with a laptop and student id can use the service, so what is the incentive for me to take my lappy and get coffee from Expose (that I can get anywhere) and pay for internet service on top of that…No incentive because there are other coffee shops in the area that have filled my need as a consumer.

The First is Espresso Royal. Last Semester, Espresso Royal began hosting their own wireless service due to the large amount of student’s who come here to study and bring their laptops to look up things online, write blogs (like I am), or casually surf the net checking things like their email or looking up worthless things on Facebook (which we all do), all while enjoying a great cup of coffee and a large cookie. Espresso Royal is the perfect model of a well-operated college coffee shop. Old wood floors, large glass windows hinting at the buildings historical role in Dinkeytown as a main street on the edge of Minneapolis and for new Urbanism the perfect Urban Village ripe for development, brick walls, and plenty of chairs and tables ranging from ultra cushy for naps and ultra efficient for studying or typing up that last paper before it is due. All with the smells and noises of a coffee shop and the chatter of the people around you. All of this plus free WI-FI, how can I say no???

The truth is I can’t, but there is another coffee shop along University Avenue that is doing very well too. Last year when the four of us were living at 808 Berry Place Apartments, The Cupcake opened and I never visited it until last semester when I met with a member of the Midtown Greenway for an interview. I got there early, taking the #50 from campus and getting off at Emerald as if I was going home to the apartment 355. Instead I walked a block up to Buford (I believe) and headed into the coffee shop. It’s a very small coffee shop but very charming in the way the counter is presented and has stools and tables in front of the storefront windows, and more seating in the back. Cupcake is housed in what appears to be a mixed use building that houses 2-3 businesses and a pottery studio. The Coffee was pretty good, but their signature is of course their cupcakes, which are a little pricey but worth every penny in taste, this in addition to free WI-FI. With all of the housing development and the coffee shops proximity to the well-established neighborhood of Prospect Park it should do very well and have a pretty regular customer base. Plus, with all the excitement of the possibilities of Light Rail on University Avenue, this coffee shop could receive even more costumers.

That sums up 2 of my favorite coffee shops in the Twin Cities. However, I know there are more out there that I haven’t heard of/tried so I am more than welcome to suggestions of places for a great cup of coffee or for group meetings etc. So I suggest a task to my readers, tell me what your favorite coffee shop is and why?

So until next time, can someone get me a refill on this Peanut Butter Mocha???



Kristen said...

I kind of liked Cupcake. We should go there again. I love Espresso Royale, and Espresso Expose is good to. Uncommon Grounds will always hold a place in my heart to ;)

Andrew said...

We should go to Uncommon Grounds again someday, see if the service is any friendlier. More than likely all that has happened is that things have gotten more expensive...$$$$