It’s that special time of the year. The holidays are in full swing, there’s family in from out of town, and only the strongest cup of coffee will get you through it. We are sympathetic to your in-law crisis, and have come up with our favorite places to relax and enjoy a caffeinated beverage and snack. So take a break from the endless list-making, gift-wrapping and cookie baking, and make your own tea party for one. Fear not, December is just one month. You can do it.
Jin Jun Mei Black Tea
TeaSource Manager Georgia Cook wants everyone who visits TeaSource to think of their experience as a retreat. “We are looking to provide an alternative from the bustling coffee shops,” Cook says of the Eden Prairie joint, which is quickly establishing itself as a prime tea hot spot. With more than 250 varieties of tea available, it’s easy to find a flavor you will enjoy. Cook prefers sipping on a darker oolong or a black variety. When brewed correctly, a black tea will have a higher caffeine content, and pairs perfectly with a stimulating afternoon activity like writing, drawing or even catching up on work. Don’t have the time to come in? Order online and a 2 oz. order of Jin Jun Mei black tea will ship right to your house ($14.62).
School of the Wise
School of the Wise in Victoria is splitting the difference between coffee shop and restaurant. Their lunch and dinner menu is ripe with variety and inspiration, but breakfast is no slouch either. Slide into a comfortable seat and start your morning with a delicious quiche of the day, served with fresh fruit ($8.25). Or if you are hoping to get your meal to go, the freshly baked banana bread and coffee cake are utterly divine ($2). Pair with a warm espresso for only $2.15, and you’ve got a bargain breakfast so delicious you’ll swear you paid more.
JJ’s Coffee + Wine Bistro
There is something special about a fresh cup of coffee brewed by a local company. Perhaps it tastes great because the beans are locally roasted. Or, it could be the Bruce Wayne coffee shop by day, Batman wine bistro by night that has the Eden Prairie community mystified and intrigued. Weekend brunch is the main event, with everything from omelettes to burgers available. The Everything Omelette is a three-egg masterpiece with chorizo, sautéed mushrooms and peppers, tomatoes and cheese served with house potatoes for a hearty feast ($8.95). Bottomless JJ’s coffee is only $2.99, which means that your happy place can come with free refills.
Emily’s Favorite Malt
Tommy’s Old Fashioned Malt Shop
The malt is an American standard. Satisfying generation after generation with its timeless taste, this classic shake has a character worth preserving. Tommy’s owners Brett and Emily Geselle have created a menu combining traditional malt flavors such as butterscotch and chocolate into re-imagined creations for a new batch of malt drinkers. The Emily’s Favorite is a classic combination of sticky butterscotch and hot fudge, blended into the perfect consistency for shared slurping or single-straw drinking ($5.15 full/$4.15 half). If your goal is to get the ice cream into your mouth as quickly as possible, consider a Tommy’s sundae as an alternative. Mix ‘n match fruity pineapple, blueberry, or strawberry with a scoop of vanilla or marshmallow for a tangy creamsicle combo ($4.15/two scoops).
Let it be known: any barista who can pull off a delicious mocha is worth their weight in coffee beans. One of the trickiest coffee items to order at a specialty shop, the mocha has the disadvantage of being too sweet, or not sweet enough. The Mocha Monkey crew has found a perfectly crafted balance of a sweet drink, without sacrificing that delicious coffee taste. Owner Jon Schmidt and his team are serving up scrumptious, nature-themed offerings like the Jungle Mocha. A swirly mix of dark chocolate, hazelnut and coconut, this flavor sensation has that cozy winter feeling with the added touch of the coconut to conjure up a far-away beach fantasy, away from the frosty chill ($4.22–$4.97).
White Chocolate Raspberry Bundtlet
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Picture your favorite hand-held dessert. Swirling, glazed images of donuts and frosty cupcakes are the usual suspects, but co-owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes Patty Balster is looking to shake things up. Balster is determined to put bundt cakes on the dessert podium with the White Chocolate Raspberry Bundtlet. This delicious, personal-sized dessert is glazed with snow white chocolate and a tangy raspberry flavor packed so tight, it has the taste of a whole cake with just a fraction of the size ($4.25). If you’re new to bundt cakes or unsure of which flavor you want, Balster and her staff will help you out. “We want everyone to be treated like a guest,” she says. That means making sure that you leave satisfied.
(Why stop at one? Pick up a Bundtlet Bundle (sold by the dozen) at Nothing Bundt Cakes in Eden Prairie.)