Mainstreet Coffee Company

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A little background

Mainstreet Coffee Company was started by Mike and Pam Borgman of Sauk Centre.  By using fresh ingredients in their homemade family recipes, this once family home has become a new hang out for the folks of Sauk Centre.  Corresponding with the seasons and their dedication to providing options with the freshest ingredients, their menu changes weekly.  In addition to a changing menu of entrees, they also offer pastries, specialty coffees and an assortment of other beverages.  Be sure to stop in for either breakfast, lunch or an afternoon coffee.

Wondering where Sauk Centre is?  Just get on Interstate 94 and travel Northwest passed St. Cloud.

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 My thoughts

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When you walk up to the cafe, it is literally a cute, sunshine yellow house with beautiful flower gardens.  The inside is only an extension of the house’s charm.  Mike and Pam have turned this house into a warm and inviting cafe for the citizens of Sauk Centre.  The walls are covered in coffee-addict-inspired artwork like the sign in the image above.  They also offer plenty of treats stored in their own cute serving plates for those of us who have a sweet tooth.

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I’ve been here before and my favorite is their chai lattes.  They’re not made like the traditional style of Indian chai, such as the Grey Duck Chai, but they are pretty darn tasty in my opinion.  Honestly, they make me think of Christmas upon first sip.  They’re always served piping hot and with a well balanced mix of spices.  On this visit, however, I stopped in for lunch with my mom.  Here’s what we got:

I went with the special of the day, a Greek Chicken Penne Pasta that consisted of kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, feta cheese, and grilled chicken.  On the side, you get orange slices and your choice of the muffins they baked that morning.  My choice?  I went with a morning glory muffin.  I thought the grouping of pasta with a muffin for lunch was a little interesting, but I was happy for a sweet pastry after my meal.  I’ll admit, I have a little … okay, a BIG sweet tooth.  To start, I would definitely order the Greek Chicken Penne Pasta again.  The pasta itself was well made and I was so happy that it wasn’t drowned in sauce.  That has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to pasta salad.  I hate when there is too much dressing and you can’t taste anything else in the salad.  I didn’t find that problem here!  Everything was fresh and made for one awesome lunch.  Thanks Mainstreet Coffee Co.

my meal

My mom went with Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch flatbread with a cup of vegetable soup.  The sandwich, in addition to chicken and bacon, included sauted onions, tomatoes, a blend of three cheeses, and romaine lettuce.  She said it was all very good so I had to sneak a bite of it too!  She, of course, was right.  The sandwich was nice and warm, which helped the cheese become all melty and gooey.  Again, this was another great way to have a casual lunch.

mom's meal

When we had finished our meal, we took a small tour around the outside of the cafe.  There were tons of flower beds, not shown, and this beautiful patio to sit on.  Had it been a warmer day outside, we probably would have been out here.  Take a look for yourself.

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In addition to the cafe, Mainstreet Coffee Co. also offers bicycle rentals for customers on the cheap!  Being located one block away from the Lake Wobegon Trail, which runs from St. Cloud to Alexandria, renting bikes is a nice service offered for anyone looking for a day ride.  In addition, Mainstreet Coffee Co. hosts an annual “Grillin and Chillin” BBQ Cook-Off in Sinclair Lewis Park.  There’s a cash prize and trophy for the best bbq made so be sure to stop in September 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
online menu

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Caffeine Crawl – Minneapolis 2013

ticket

A little background

This past weekend, the Twin Cities were the host for the first Caffeine Crawl to grace the Upper Midwest.  The Caffeine Crawl was the idea of  The LAB, a group so passionate about quality beverages that they wanted to highlight local businesses that are dedicated to excellence.  At the Caffeine Crawl, participants sampled some pretty amazing coffee and tea.  In addition, the participants had the opportunity to learn more about the quality, technique, and roasting process of the products.  At each stop in the crawl, there was a brief presentation and a selection of free drinks available to attendees only.

Participants: Bull Run Coffee, Cafe Imports, Dogwood Coffee with Gray Duck Chai, J&S Bean Factory, Peace Coffee, Publika, Quixotic Coffee, Sebastian Joe’s and TeaSource.

(The hyperlinks for Bull Run and Dogwood direct you to posts on Minnesota Munch that I’ve written)

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 My thoughts

Apart from knowing that I would be consuming 10 times my regular caffeine intake, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the first caffeine crawl to hit the Upper Midwest.  Were we only going to be drinking coffee all day?  Absolutely not!  I have to give a shout-out to The LAB and all of the many sponsors of this crawl.  Not only did the participants get to sample AMAZING specialty coffees, chais, and teas, but we also had the opportunity to learn a thing (or two) about the sourcing, production, distribution, and preparation techniques of our favorite beverages.

There were two routes to choose from for this crawl.  One route covered many specialty coffee and tea cafes in St. Paul and the other had more stops in Minneapolis.  I was excited that my ticket took me on the St. Paul route because, as you could probably tell from my previous posts, I haven’t had the opportunity to write much about our state’s capital.  Not only was I shocked that I was missing so many great places, but I was ecstatic to meet the passionate people who bring Minneapolis/St. Paul residents something of quality and something that should be enjoyed.  I definitely want to share these places we toured with anyone who is willing/excited to explore a new place.  You won’t be disappointed.  Now, on to my route for the Caffeine Crawl.

First Stop

All of the participants met at Peace Coffee Roasting Facility where we were greeted by their staff and Jason Burton from The LAB.  We were given a detailed tour of Peace Coffee Roasting Facility that included the history of their company, a look at their roasting techniques, and information about the growth and sourcing of their coffee beans.  Towards the end of our tour, one of their baristas from Wonderland Park prepared a cold press coffee drink inspired by southern mint juleps.  What a great way to start our crawl!

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mint julep

Second Stop

We made the 12 minute trek from Peace Coffee to J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul for our second stop.  The Bean Factory, established in 2001, is an independently owned, local coffee shop and roastery.  Here, we were able to enjoy a sample of their cold press coffee and a bag of cinnamon twists from a local producer.  While enjoying their cold press and lounging in their spacious outdoor patio, we watched a coffee bean roasting demonstration.  The unique part of this demonstration was that they were using an original roaster from San Francisco.  It’s so old, that it’s serial number is literally all zeros.  That’s pretty cool.  Here, the cold press was a combination of a French Guatemala roast, an Ethiopian roast, and java.  Luckily, at this point, I was pacing myself and didn’t feel the affects of caffeine yet.  I would definitely come back here.  The baristas were very knowledgeable of their brewing and roasting techniques in addition to having a humor-filled personality.

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j&s bean factory

Their roaster
Their roaster

Third Stop

Not too far from the J&S Bean Factory was our next stop, Tea Source.  This was actually one of my favorite stops.  While I’ve always enjoyed a good cup of tea both full-leaf and teabagged, I never really bothered to research tea production and the differences amongst each variety.  Thanks to Tea Source, I now have a little more knowledge of tea varieties and tea growing than the average person.  Here, the staff at Tea Source gave us a thorough presentation on six different types of teas from Asia.  The first tea was a green tea from Japan that had an ocean-like taste.  One good tip I’ve learned about green tea is that you don’t boil the water when preparing it!  Next was a florally oolong from Taiwan followed by a Big Red Robe oolong from China.  The last two were black teas from China.  One was called Golden Dragon and this one was my favorite.  It had a nice, smooth taste and wasn’t too strong.  The last black tea was from the Yunnan province and had a very strong, earthy taste.  Definitely check this place out!  They have over 230 teas to try and a very knowledgeable, passionate staff!

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tea source

Fourth Stop

Quixotic Coffee was literally right across the street from Tea Source, which made getting to the next location on the crawl a snap!  By the time my group arrived here, it was around lunchtime.  We needed something quick to not only fight off hunger, but also to absorb the intense amount of coffee and tea we had been downing all morning.  Thank you Quixotic for your ridiculously good strawberry pastry with pistachios.  Yes, I did just say I had a pastry for lunch, but look at the picture below.  Can you blame me?

Getting back to the coffee again, they didn’t disappoint here.  The baristas at Quixotic gave a unique presentation on brewing the perfect cup of potato coffee.  I’m not kidding, the barista prepared potato defect for us to sample.  I’ve never heard of this before and was pumped to try it out!  FYI, it smells to high heaven when they brew it.  Don’t get discouraged by this because it actually doesn’t taste half bad when it’s hot and ready.  This particular defect had a mixture of Rwandan and Burundi coffee.  Apparently this is a common brew in Africa.  (If anyone else has tried this … and has actually sampled it in Africa, please post! I want to know more!)

After doing a little digging, this blog post had the most information I could find about the potato defect.

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quixotic

quixotic 2

Fifth Stop

By this point I was definitely feeling a caffeine high.  With headaches creeping up and more energy than I could handle, thank goodness the next stop was to Cafe Imports.   Cafe Imports is an importer of specialty coffee beans from 20 countries.  They are considered one of the best distributors and they sell their beans to specialty roasters worldwide.  A few of their clients include Dunn Bros. Coffee, Bull Run (Mpls local), and Dogwood Coffee Company (also Mpls local and the last stop on our crawl).  If you have an opportunity to tour a warehouse, especially one that is filled with 23,000 large bags of coffee, take advantage of it!  Seriously, when are you going to see 23,000 bags of coffee in one place?  Oh, you saw my picture below?  You’re welcome.  For more information, please check out their website in the hyperlink.

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Last Stop

This last stop was done in two parts.  There was Gray Duck Chai and there was Dogwood Coffee Company.  First of all, let me say that I love chai.  I really love chai and Gray Duck Chai has now captured my heart as my No. 1 go-to for chai.  Let me begin by saying that they gave a brilliant presentation.  Not only did they make the chai in front of us, but they also presented and discussed the attributes of all the spices and ingredients.  Who knew that cloves have 12 times the amount of antioxidants as the acai berry?  This was just one of the many interesting facts we learned from their presentation.  As for their chai, it was excellent and prepared like masala chais on the of streets of India.  You can’t get more authentic than that.  The authentic masala chais have strong notes of pepper and ginger.  Gray Duck Chai definitely incorporated these two spices to dominate the flavor of their chai.

Gray Duck

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Now, I’ve been to Dogwood Coffee Company’s cafe before in Uptown Square and I’ve enjoyed their hot miel coffee.  Dogwood Coffee Company began three years ago and was originally housed near Lake Calhoun in Rustica Bakery.  In 2010, they opened their own cafe in Calhoun Square and have been there since.  At their roasting facility, they chose to highlight their Zamboni Cold Press coffee.  In my opinion, perfect time for summer!  This coffee is a light-medium roast and had a nice, strong flavor.  Currently, they hand-make all their Zamboni batches for wholesale consumers, but they stated that they’re getting ready to produce smaller batches for individual sale.  I’m pretty excited about that announcement!

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Dogwood Zamboni

After Party

When things were all said and done, all crawlers met up at Common Roots Cafe in the Lowry Hill neighborhood for the after party.  At Common Roots, crawlers were given free samples of Fulton Beer’s collaboration brew, War and Peace.  If it’s being offered for caffeine crawl participants, it’s no surprise that the beer has coffee brewed into it.  In addition to sampling coffee beer, the after crawl included a raffle where proceeds were directly donated to Books For Africa.

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For such a wonderful event, I would like to thank all of the sponsors listed below.  This was truly a fun and informative day!

The LAB, Books for Africa, Peace Coffee, Dogwood Coffee Co., Barista Magazine, Stella di Caffe, yelp, Wholesome Sweeteners, Sleeve a Message, Rip van Wafels, and Baratza.

The Caffeine Crawl – June 1

ticket

For the first time ever in the Upper Midwest, Minneapolis will host one of several national caffeine crawls Saturday, June 1st from 10:30am to 3:30pm.  Tickets are currently still available and you can select one of two route options.

The Caffeine Crawl is the clever brain child of The LAb, a group so passionate about quality beverages that they wanted to highlight local businesses that are dedicated to excellence.  At the Caffeine Crawl, participants can expect to sample some pretty amazing coffee, tea and chocolate.  In addition to giving your taste buds a workout, participants will have to opportunity to learn more about the quality, technique and process of the products.  At each stop in the crawl, there will be a brief presentation and a selection of free drinks available to attendees only.  Get your tickets!!!

Participants: Bull Run Coffee, Cafe Imports, Dogwood Coffee with Gray Duck Chai, J&S Bean Factory, Peace Coffee, Publika, Quixotic Coffee, Sebastian Joe’s and TeaSource.

Want to know more about this year’s Caffeine Crawl and to find more locations nationally?  Check out the links below!

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Dogwood Coffee Company

A little background

open cafeDogwood Coffee Company is a small, specialty coffee roaster in Uptown right off Hennepin Avenue.   They serve their coffee single-cup style; single-cup style means that each espresso is brewed to order and not a minute before.

It’s important give a call-out to Dogwood Coffee Co. because of their dedication to working with producers, exporters, importers, agronomists and educators who focus on sustainable living.  Building relationships with these individuals is clearly important to Dogwood Coffee Co. and this goal is apparent when reading their blog.  Yes, a specialty coffee roaster that blogs!  They post valuable content ranging from their experiences sourcing product to their favorite coffee moments.

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In addition to their outstanding dedication to providing a quality cup of coffee, they also work with local groups within Minnesota to make their coffees special.  They even go as far as sourcing the milk from local Minnesota producers!  I have to say, I’m very impressed with their dedication, passion, knowledge and involvement in enhancing the coffee experience.

 My thoughts

With a motto of “We work hard so you can have good coffee in your mouth,” it’s no surprise that baristas at Dogwood Coffee Co. know how to whip up a fantastic brew.  To kick off my morning, I decided to step outside my usual (vanilla lattes or chai) and order a café miel.  A café miel has a shot of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey.  The name comes from the French word for honey, miel.  While it’s not my usual, I did enjoy it.  I would prefer more of a stronger coffee flavor, but I realize that a café miel is supposed to be a little tamer.  Overall, I would order it again.  My cup had a nice, smooth flavor and definitely gave me the kick I needed to get my morning going.  In addition, the baristas knew what they were doing and served up the perfect ratios of steamed milk to espresso.  A huge plus for me is receiving a cup with coffee art.  Not gonna lie, I’m a huge sucker for awesome coffee art. 🙂

cup with logo

I quickly want to mention their location.  Dogwood Coffee Co. is located in the Calhoun Square Shopping Center.  This place piqued my interest even more when I saw the entire brewing station in an open space!  Literally, a shopper could walk right into the area behind the counter.  What a perfect way for customers to view their brewing technique!  Lastly, there is a seating section that gives you a great view of Hennepin Avenue.

P.S. I’m also a sucker for huge windows that let me look outside when I write.  This place definitely got my creative juices flowing!

Bull Run Coffee

A little background

Bull Run Coffee is a family owned, single-cup specialty coffee roaster in the Lyndale neighborhood, close to Lake Harriet.  What makes this coffee house so special is their devotion to creating an exceptional cup of coffee.  To get the best flavor, they source Arabica beans from around the world and they prepare all their orders, “single-cup” style.

“Single-cup coffee” means that every latte, cappuccino, or gooey macchiato is made to order and not a single minute before.  They even grind the beans to each guest’s order.  This is no average “cup of Joe”; this is something to be appreciated.

Each barista is trained in coffee, espresso, milk preparation, and four different roasting techniques: siphoning, French press, manual brew bar, and the Clover, which involves weighing and grinding beans to craft a brew to perfection.

Baristas were also the first in Minneapolis to use the Synesso Hydra, which allows them to manually adjust the pressure levels, brew temperature, and moisture concentration to give guests a truly unique experience that will satisfy their taste buds.

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 My thoughts

bull run coffee co.
Boone’s Beard Coffee Creation

Remember when I raved about the coffee indulgences at Yum!?  I still love their coffee and will probably go there for a treat, but if you haven’t experienced the craftsmanship of Bull Run Coffee, I urge, drop what you’re doing and book it to 3346 Lyndale Ave. S.| Minneapolis, MN.  They know how to make one excellent cup of coffee.  Reminding me of the cappuccinos and lattes from Poland, I’ve since become a repeat customer.

Not only is it fun watching them prepare your brew, you get to admire their coffee art after you take a seat.  I feel so bad ruining it every time I take a sip! 🙂

As previously mentioned, the flavor is amazing.  I could really taste the warm, roasted flavors of the coffee.  There’s almost a nuttiness to the coffee that made my taste buds sing.  This is one cup that I certainly did not chug down.  I made it last a good long time before that precious last drop was gone.

If you aren’t a huge fan of a strong coffee flavor, this is okay!  They have many other options available to try.  I had an iced coffee the other day (it was finally warm here in Minneapolis) and they made it good and sweet.  Again, a special drink like this could not be downed in a hurry.

I encourage anyone looking for some of the best handcrafted coffee in the Twin Cities Metro to check it out!  Even if you are not a big coffee drinker, I still encourage you to take your friends and grab a cup.  The staff is very friendly and offer wonderful suggestions for anyone new to their shop.  A cool mix of people hang out here and it’s always fun to start a conversation.  You will not be disappointed.