Community Coffee Shops
Coffee is always in season, and it’s the perfect way to stay awake during the best season of all: Pride! As you plan your Pride festivities, be sure to include stops at these GLBTQ-owned and GLBTQ-friendly shops across the Twin Cities. No matter what caffeinated concoction you prefer (or what type of vibe you require while sipping your java), these cafés are all friendly, welcoming, and community-approved.
Blue Moon Coffee
3822 E Lake St., Minneapolis
Since 1994, Blue Moon Coffee Cafe has been serving up steaming cups of locally roasted joe for the Lake Street community. Out and proud owner Lisa Berg strives to create a comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone who walks in the door. Customers can grab superior coffee and tea creations from friendly baristas, or munch on pastries from local vendors and sandwiches from Panini Creations.
Berg believes the best part about the cafe is that “many people from all over have taken ‘ownership’ of the Blue Moon.” In addition to displaying the latest creations from local artists, the café also functions as a pick-up point for CSA shares from Webster Farm Organics. The eclectic and diverse customer base makes the café a great place with a local vibe for a first date with that cutie you eyed at Pride.
3405 Chicago Ave. S, Minneapolis
If you’re looking to enjoy a cup of coffee in a mindful, queer, intelligent, and artsy atmosphere, drop in to Cafe SouthSide, a café that has served as a casual meeting place and hub of queer activism since 2011. Co-owners Roxanne Anderson and Anna Meyer started the cafe in order to “keep the space safer for the queer and trans folks utilizing that cafe through the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition (MTHC) and Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN).” Through their efforts, Cafe SouthSide “provides nourishment for our communities through safer space, good treats, healthier food, organic fair trade small farmer coffee, and art — centering on queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and people of color, while welcoming all.”
Proudly owned and managed by two queer people of color, the space allows folks to socialize and organize within the queer community, and it offers opportunities for people to see themselves reflected within their community. The café also serves as an access point to additional support services located in the building, such as MTHC, The Exchange/Shot Clinic, RARE Productions, Transforming Families, Northbound Technology, and MN Care Partners.
In addition to supporting community activism, Anderson and Meyer cultivate a local artist community through displaying local art and hosting poetry readings and open mic nights. Additionally, Cafe SouthSide collaborates with local community organizations and programs that service myriad communities. Café customers can enjoy local baked goods, veggies from the café’s community garden, and great coffee — all served with a smile.
The Coffee Shop Northeast
2852 Johnson St. NE, Minneapolis
With open mic nights, literary readings, and seasonal specialty drinks, The Coffee Shop Northeast is thriving in the Audubon neighborhood. For the past five years, Jodi Lund and her sister, Jenni, have dished up “coffee, treats, food, and love.” Co-owned by Jodi, Jenni, Jodi’s wife April, and Jenni’s husband Rich, Jodi notes that the cafe is “50 percent gay-owned but 100 percent gay-friendly!”
The café has been fully embraced by the Northeast community, requiring the family to expand their menu and double their seating area. Customers can enjoy exceptional Classic Cold Press, made with real Wisconsin maple syrup and soy milk, or sip on an Iced Miel with local honey from Skinny Jake’s Fat Honey in Northeast Minneapolis. The expanded café menu includes fresh sandwiches, healthy deli salads, and options for gluten-free and vegan diners. Jodi suggests that guests save room for a mean slice of carrot cake, made and baked in house.
By sourcing as many products from local vendors and hosting events for the community, The Coffee Shop Northeast has that true Northeast vibe: friendly, open, and welcoming. Jodi adds that they are “community driven and supported” in everything they do: “We feel very fortunate to be where we are!”
3800 37th Ave. S, Minneapolis
Three years ago, Jeffrey Fisher was looking for a way to rejuvenate his career and achieve his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. When Fisher and his husband had the opportunity to take over a failing business and turn it into his dream coffee shop, Fisher found that his spirit was restored in the process of restoring the business: “As I helped to reinvent and rejuvenate Fireroast, it was doing the same thing for me.”
Now a bustling little stop in the Longfellow neighborhood, Fireroast Café has successfully developed into one of the community’s favorite places for great food, great coffee, and great hospitality. Fisher’s long run in a variety of corporate hospitality jobs makes him passionate about connecting with customers and creating special experiences for all who enter Fireroast’s door. The café is committed to making each guest feel personally welcome and special; Fisher notes, “We’re the kind of place where everybody knows everyone. We remember your name and who you are.”
Locally roasted coffee from Up Coffee Roasters and Sebastian Joe’s ice cream put the finishing flourishes on a menu where everything is made from scratch, in house, and to-order. The rosemary chicken salad sandwich is the iconic staple for lunch, but you can’t go wrong with a cup of chicken and wild rice soup or the basil pesto goat cheese sandwich. Chai aficionados will swoon over their housemade chai, made from brewing an assam Indian tea with house-blended spices and fortified honey.
Whether customers want to mingle with neighbors and get to know their community or would prefer to retreat and set aside the hustle and bustle of a busy day, Fireroast Café provides an atmosphere that fosters strong bonds with the Longfellow community. Local artists display their work in the café, and the café hosts several artist “meet and greet” events for people to learn more about the artists, creating a friendly neighborhood vibe.
The Nicollet Diner & Muffin Top Cafe
1424 Nicollet Ave. S, Minneapolis
Recently joining the mix of GLBT bars and restaurants in Loring Park is the Nicollet Diner and Muffin Top Cafe. Owned by Sam Turner and Dion Coker (who are engaged to be married soon!), the Muffin Top Cafe provides java and baked goods while the Nicollet Diner serves up a full menu. No matter where they sit, customers can enjoy delectable treats from both venues.
Turner notes that the joint venture between the venues has allowed them to create two unique yet complementary brands, with the Muffin Top Cafe allowing them to cater more specifically to the GLBT community. He adds, “While the Nicollet Diner’s goal is to become a neighborhood staple frequented by all walks of life where all are welcome, Muffin Top Cafe gives us a direct conduit to our GLBT family and the ability to offer services, events, programming, and meeting space dedicated to the GLBT community and our allies.”
In their quaint but modern space, local art and live plants create a relaxed and natural atmosphere. Guests can play board games or cards while enjoying the “super caffeinated” and super popular White Lightning Mocha, served up by friendly yet sassy baristas. Drinks are concocted with locally roasted beans and flavor syrups free from artificial colors and preservatives. For patrons on the go, a variety of fresh grab-and-go items are available, like the Asian Chicken Salad and the Spinach, Nut, and Honey wrap. And we can’t overlook the fresh-baked sweets: muffins, cookies, scones, and donuts are all made in house.
The Muffin Top Cafe doesn’t aspire to be the next big chain; Turner and Coker’s focus is to “bring our neighbors the best choice when looking for a coffee shop…. We try our best to do it right; we seek out the best possible products and selections for our customers.” As they gear up for their first Pride season, Turner and Coker are excited to participate in the event and form an even stronger bond to the community.
Twin Cities Leather & Latte
2717 Hennepin Ave. S, Minneapolis
Don’t be intimidated by the “Leather” part of their name; Twin Cities Leather & Latte is a friendly establishment that welcomes everyone, regardless of what makes them unique. Still thriving after a year and a half of business, Twin Cities Leather & Latte is the only combined coffee shop/leather and sex toy shop in the world. In addition to its unique claim to fame, out and proud owners Karri Plowman and Tynan Fox add, “The brotherhood shared among all the staff and the community we serve is truly what makes this place unique.”
The espresso bar features a full menu of handcrafted drinks, all made with locally roasted beans from Roastery 7. Fox believes that Roastery 7’s beans “brew the way coffee is supposed to taste: bold and full-flavored but never sour.” Non-coffee drinkers can enjoy a roasted chestnut chai or a cookie with steamed milk, or nibble on fresh bakery items from A Baker’s Wife.
Twin Cities Leather & Latte believes in “Community First!” and provides a reservable basement community room for meetings, discussions, or small gatherings. Clients also appreciate how the shop is “always seeking to push boundaries of self, stigma, and identity.” With its warm and welcoming environment, Twin Cities Leather & Latte is a space where “you can truly be who you are.”
Wilde Roast Cafe
65 Main St. SE, Minneapolis
If you’re enticed by a river view, stop by the Wilde Roast Cafe for coffee, drinks, and an extensive food menu. Co-owned by Tom DeGree and Dean Schlaak, Wilde Roast Cafe moved to the Mississippi riverfront four years ago, and the new location is more popular than ever. DeGree adds that all communities are welcome: “We put it out there 11 years ago that the Wilde Roast Cafe was for everyone; at any time you may see straight and gay couples sitting in the fireplace area.”
Stop in and grab a latté or a scoop of house-made gelato before strolling along the river, or stay for dinner and end the night with a sweet treat from Chef Jeff. On beautiful summer days, dog-friendly patio seating is a must, while an indoor fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere on chillier evenings. The popular weekend brunch menu provides an array of options, including crème brûlée french toast, crab cake benedict, and their famous mac and cheese.
While the Wilde Roast Cafe offers an atmosphere perfect for conversation, DeGree and Schlaak’s recent restaurant venture, Mattie’s on Main (located right next door to Wilde Roast), offers a vibrant entertainment calendar including Drag Brunch on Sundays and regular gigs by Cabaret Duo Erin Schwab and Jay Fuchs. No matter which venue you prefer, you can always expect welcoming and friendly service from the exceptional staff.
Workhorse Coffee Bar
2399 University Ave. W, St. Paul
Located half a block west from the Raymond Green Line Light Rail stop is St. Paul’s newest coffee stop, Workhorse Coffee Bar. Since opening on May 4 in the Raymond/University neighborhood, it’s apparent that not even the tiniest detail has been overlooked by co-owners and partners Ty Barnett and Shannon Forney. As the “instigator of genuine relationships, builder of beverages, and agent of integrity and hard work,” Barnett notes, “We’ve been thoughtful about creating perfectly balanced ratios in our coffee drinks.” Order a cappuccino, and you’ll be delighted that the drink is served in the traditional way, with charged water and a Finnish chocolate mint.
The space (which has historically been a coffee shop) has been restored to embrace the original industrial character of the building, and vintage industrial finds have been incorporated into the décor. The espresso bar has been mounted with large faux rivets, which makes it look “like the hull of a ship.” Barnett explains, “It’s intended to be leaned against, chatted over, and served at with the pride of old-fashioned customer service.” Customers can sit at large work-tables and intimate two-tops, and small chairs in the front window allow kids (or kids-at-heart) to watch the train go by. Barnett adds, “We all feel like a kid when the train goes by, am I right?!”
In addition to providing a vast range of coffee and tea drinks, Workhorse Coffee Bar serves up special treats, such as the tempting vanilla espresso milkshake. Pastries, including “killer” ham and swiss croissants from SugaRush, a neighboring bakery, are a perfect way to start the morning. The lunch menu features a daily rotation of soups, flatbread pizzas, and a hummus plate, all of which are “reasonably priced small plates, locally sourced, and served with pride.”
While they’ve been perfecting the micro-details of their new shop, Barnett and Forney have also been awarded funding to create the Smallest Museum in St. Paul. Forney, who identifies as an “artist, prime mover-shaker, and secretary of planning,” has been the “tour-de-force” behind the museum, which will open on July 1. Located outside to the right of the shop’s front door is a vintage fire-hose cabinet that is tucked into the facade of the building. This cabinet has been transformed into a two-foot-by-three-foot micro-museum, and “offers a platform to engage a street audience, LRT Green Line Train commuters, and customers of Workhorse Coffee Bar.”
400 Penn Ave. S, Minneapolis
Need more coffee? Be sure to check out Cuppa Java, another GLBT-friendly café located in the Bryn Mawr area. Cuppa Java serves food, beer, and wine in addition to excellent coffee drinks. Customers love the hot sandwiches, and outdoor seating allows patrons to enjoy beautiful Minneapolis summer days.