Chocolate Iced Nirvana? A Chai Latte with house-made spicy syrup? A waffle bar? These are your six top coffee shops.
Fiddlehead at Kahler Grand Hotel
1610 W Center St.; Kahler Grand Hotel
No cookie cutter coffee shop. Fiddlehead Coffee Co. seems to be growing as fast as the many plants that line their shops. With two chlorophyll-filled oases in Rochester (and now one in Bloomington, Minn.) “each of our locations has a slightly different vibe,” says District Manager Allison Roe.
Sustainability. “What makes Fiddlehead unique is its commitment to community and sustainability—a cornerstone of our cafe is sourcing shade-grown beans,” says Roe. “Shade-grown coffee encourages natural habitats and ecosystems and supports the health of our planet; we take our job as purveyors of coffee seriously, and we continue our stewardship by being a welcoming space for all individuals in our community no matter your sexual orientation, religion, country of origin, political ideals.”
Best seats in the house? Miracle Mile location: On the patio enjoying the sun, an iced coffee and toasty focaccia. Kahler location: On the couch by the fireplace for relaxation and a chai latte with house-made spicy syrup.
Moka at Peace Plaza | AB-Photography.US
18 First St. SW;
1023 North Broadway;
306 12th St. SE;
243 Commerce Dr. NW
Four Roch locations. Moka’s friendly staff and inventive menu keeps people coming back for more. It has also allowed the woman-owned business to expand into over 17 locations with four of those in Rochester. “We strive to create consistency whether you pop into the northwest location or swing by south,” says General Manager Kirsten Rueb. “Each of our stores do have a little something that makes them special though.”
Teamwork makes the dream work. Even with curveballs thrown by area construction, “the North Broadway Moka really showed Rochester what makes Moka ... well, Moka!” says Rueb. “That team has adapted so well in ensuring you can still get your favorite drink and conquer your day!” The Peace Plaza Moka has also faced construction challenges and closure during the pandemic, but is warmly welcoming back customers after two years.
Number one. On another positive note: All Moka locations offer online ordering. “I have been with Moka for so long because there is never a day where you feel like just a number,” Rueb says. “Each day I go into Moka, I know I am valued and encouraged to be myself.”
Cafe Steam at One Discovery Square
315 South Broadway;
150 South Broadway (Hilton
201 Fourth St. SW
Open mic. Regardless of which location you happen upon, Café Steam will undoubtedly leave you feeling as cool as you are caffeinated. Broadway “headquarters” is equal parts hip and cozy with exposed brick, local art, and Open Mic Nights the first Thursday of each month. The airy skyway location in the Hilton DoubleTree building has a modern feel while the One Discovery Square building “is all about innovation, collaboration, and open workspaces,” says co-owner Will Forsman.
Waffles? One offering you will only find at the One Discovery Square location is the Waffle Bar, which serves up pearl sugar liege Belgian waffles daily in an assortment of recipes created by Steam baristas. “Our sister company Colorway Coffee Roasters produces on average 1,200 pounds of roasted coffee per month,” says Forsman. “Rochester sure loves its coffee.”
Where everybody knows your name. “No matter the day it will always feel like you can create your own space, whether you need a place to study, go on a first date, hang out with friends or just be by yourself—we’re always there for you,” Forsman says. “We like to think of it as Rochester’s gathering space.”
120 Elton Hills Dr. NW;
1340 Salem Rd. SW
Smell. Especially smell. With two brotherly locations residing in north and south Rochester, Dunn Brothers Coffee serves up onsite roasting for “the freshest coffee” with single origin beans from small estates and a small batch roaster in each store, according to co-owner Dennis Wong. “Stop by midmorning most days and you can see, hear, and smell the roasting process—and talk to the roaster,” says Wong.
Blue Plate, special. The double threat that sets Dunn Brothers apart? Fresher food. The Elton Hills Drive location has a full kitchen (also known as Blue Plate Diner) that prepares food to order using local ingredients like Schultz Farm organic eggs, organic grains from Whole Grain Milling, and Bee Shed honey.
4,000? Another heavy hitter is their Infinite Black cold brewed coffee. Warning: It’s double strength. When mixed with flavors, it’s known as their Iced Nirvana drink. (Their most popular cold drink is the Vanilla or Chocolate Iced Nirvana.) Fun fact: Each store roasts about 4,000 batches of coffee beans per year.
12 locations | cariboucoffee.com
ACB. With a whopping 12 (soon to be 13) locations of Caribou Coffee in Rochester, it’s no secret this Minnesota-grown franchise is a hit. Something you may not know, though, is that Caribou uses only rainforest alliance certified beans and are a clean label company.
‘Day-making experiences.’ “We create day-making experiences that spark a chain reaction of good for not only our guests, but our team members as well,” says District Manager Kirk Freiberg. With new plant-based options popping up on the menu, Caribou is staying relevant and providing variety.
Pumpkin? Yes, pumpkin. “We are always coming up with new drinks and food items,” says Freiberg. “Pumpkin, of course, is coming for fall, and look for new drinks later this year into next year, too!” (Anyone else ready for cooler weather and a PSL?)
Bravo Espresso | Traci Westcott
111 South Broadway (Skyway Level of Galleria at University Square)
CSE. “I guess my job title would be barista. I kind of hate that word, though—more like customer service enthusiast,” says Andrew Joseph Meissner. “Don’t get me wrong, I love making coffee, but the main part of my job is the customers and I’ve always enjoyed getting to know them.”
The OG? If that’s not an indication of what makes Bravo Espresso & Gourmet unique to Rochester, they also have three decades of street cred to boot. Bravo was the first independent coffee shop in Rochester and has been around for 32 years.
Drink local. Located in the heart of the Galleria, they have survived the drastic shift in business following the pandemic. “Things got crazy for all of us, but through the support of family, friends and our wonderful community, we were able to sustain and come out still on our feet,” says Meissner. “I don’t feel we’re completely out of this yet, so I think it’s important for people to still support small and local businesses—it’s much appreciated and we wouldn’t be here without the people.”