I never used to drink coffee, but now it's been part of my daily habit for years.
It started while I was working in an office in downtown Minneapolis, and one day I went to Gloria Jeans over lunch and got something called an Ice Cap. It was more milk/dairy than coffee. Soon I was trying the mochas and then after a while I'd try the straight cup of brew, but that was a little more out of the ordinary. Of course I tried Thai or Vietnamese Coffee (with sweetened condensed milk), and then when I went to the Festival of Nations, I tried the Greek Coffee which was a small cup with very little liquid and a deep sediment of coffee mud on the bottom. Sweetened with sugar, it was quite delightful. There was also a restaurant on Grand that used to serve an amazing cardamom coffee, and sometimes I'd make a special trip to go over there.
Over the years I think I've become a coffee snob. For a while I could just satisfied with a Starbucks or Caribou, but then one day I had a Dunn Bros. They roast the beans on site, and every drink has a double shot of espresso. I think that was my first really intense coffee buzz. So then I developed a "radar" for Dunn Bros. There aren't that many in the cities, but there are enough, and I could be in an unfamiliar place, glance at a sign in a strip mall and locate the small brown lettering designating my favorite place for caffeine. My favorite thing to order is a soy latte with hazelnut or macadamia flavoring (if they have it).
I don't always go to Dunn Bros though. Sometimes I also look for the atmosphere + coffee places. I've always liked Trotter's in St. Paul. I usually get an Almond Alpine Mocha with soy. (Although, I did find out later that they serve Dunn Bros.) But they also have great food, a neighborhood feel and gluten free options. (I'm sure I'll write a whole post about gluten free food options.) Other favorites are Diamonds Coffee in NE, Black Bear Crossings in the Como Park Pavilion, and the Scandinavian Bakery. I don't know if it's still there, but there was a place on the east side of St. Paul called Café Cravings. It was all set up with small tables, lace table clothes and fancy coffee cups. And of course, who hasn't been to Café Latte?
I'm sure there are more that I'm missing. If you read this, and happen to think of a few more, I'd love to hear about them.