Ultimate Barista, Ultimate Brew

Think you love coffee? You’ll find your match in Andrew Kopplin.

Every Friday at noon, Andrew Kopplin presides over a “cupping” at the back of his cozy shop in St. Paul, Kopplin’s Coffee. On the table, more than 10 individually brewed cups of coffee, each placed next to a bowl of its coarsely ground bean of origin. He instructs visitors to dip a bit of coffee onto a spoon, then quaff it quickly—a sharp slurp—like wine.

Kopplin explains that the nuances of coffee are infinitely more complex than those of wine. The coffee industry today is where the wine industry was a few decades ago, he says, before the mainstream consumer knew the difference between, say, shiraz and cabernet. Yes, Kopplin is a coffee connoisseur, and he’s determined to make you one, too.

If it’s black coffee you’re after, choose from five or six distinctive, seasonal varieties. Then watch as he grinds your beans, sifts them into a Clover 1s coffeemaker (it uses no paper filters; they might taint or steal flavor), and steeps an individual serving to perfection.

If you order an espresso drink, it will be “traditionally constructed” as the Italians intended—no small, medium, or large. It will feature an intricate design in the crema. And it will be rich and satisfying, a taste of coffee heaven.

Kopplin blogged last summer about switching from porcelain cups to glass; porcelain was retaining miniscule amounts of oil and altering flavor. He switched farmers when he found that his organic milk wasn’t incorporating air the way it used to. The problem: The grass-fed cows had been switched from pasture to hay in the drought.

A cup of rare Ethiopian coffee at Kopplin’s might set you back $6. But because he labors over each cup, he says, “you’ll come back and buy it again.”


651-698-0457, 490 Hamline Ave. S., St. Paul, kopplinscoffee.com.