Nina’s Coffee Cafe in St Paul, Minnesota, has a very limited online life – no website! – and this makes its accidental discovery after a stop at the city’s cathedral all the more delightful.
The ‘secret’ coffee shop sits in a Victorian brownstone building on a corner of historic Cathedral Hill. Inside on a Saturday morning it’s busy: friends chatting, writers typing, students reading. There’s a comfortable level of chatter and buzz in the air.
When I tell the girl behind the counter I’m deliberating over cookie flavours, she appears with a tray of just-baked additional choices. Dark chocolate orange sounds too good to refuse, and the sharp tangy flavours, combined with the soft texture, make it difficult to share. Paired with a milky cold press coffee, it’s perfect.
Even more perfect is the fact that Nina’s Coffee Cafe extends downstairs to Subtext Books. You can’t beat a cafe and bookshop rolled into one. Reading and writing is obviously appreciated at Nina’s (the wallpaper masquerades as library shelves) and even encouraged. A single sheet of paper pinned by the door urges authors who have penned all or part of a piece of writing here to leave their details. I, for one, am in my element: drinking coffee, eating something deliciously sweet, and browsing bookshelves.
Citizens of St Paul don’t know how lucky they are. Every city needs a Nina’s Coffee Cafe. Although that, of course, would negate what makes this place so special. Don’t spread the word – come here to the Twin Cities and see for yourself.
Where: 165 Western Avenue North, St Paul, Minnesota.
When: 6.30am – 10pm, 365 days a year!