It’s not a really a coffee house when you stand in a long line with your credit card in hand waiting to dash out with a paper cup filled with a mass-marketed popular-branded brew. It’s not really a coffee house when you have just enough space to sit down to check your emails elbow-to-elbow. Coffee houses were meant to be a port in the storm where you slow down for intimate conversation, to be soothed by music or for simply clearing your thoughts. Amble in any of the following five local cafes with a book tucked under your arm to a warm welcome and pleasing aroma.

165 Western Ave. N.
St Paul, MN 55102
(651) 493-3871 

“When I drink coffee, I drink coffee, and when I buy books, I buy books,” says Pat Coleman, acquisitions librarian, Minnesota Historical Society, and blogger of 150 Best Minnesota Books. He goes on to list his favorite bookstores such as Subtext and wonders parenthetically whether being located under Nina’s coffee shop counts as a coffee shop where one can read books. Sue Zumberg, owner of Subtext, responded to Pat’s comments emphatically. She encourages book reading in the store and she provides a lot of room for people with coffee. In fact, patrons even order lunches brought down from Nina’s upstairs. So while SubText is a bookstore and not a coffee house, Sue and Nina have coalesced to provide the best of both.

Related: Best Coffee Shops In St Paul

Urban Bean Coffee
2401 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
(612) 200-8051

Unusual for aficionados to choose as the best coffee house is an entity dedicated to slowing down, relaxing, building friendships and strengthening the community. So while Urban Bean offers the best hand-crafted coffee, “it isn’t about speed, coffee is a craft, coffee brings people together.” The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, allowing you to pull out that novel you have been carrying in your bag but have never had the time to read.

Wilde Roast Cafe
65 Main St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 331-4544

For literary indulgence, try the cafe named after 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde. The atmosphere mirrors Wilde’s flamboyant dress and glittering conversation. While book clubs like to reserve a separate area just to meet, individual readers can sit at the Chesterfield couch in front of the 1900s fireplace with a latte or a glass of wine; no reservations needed. The patio is also open without reservations when the weather beckons. Your pet is welcome on the patio as well.

Coffee + Wine Bistro
7942 Mitchell Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
(952) 974-1000

Looking for a place that welcomes book readers but also offers wine? The Bistro offers a nice selection of wine, craft beer and signature organic coffee. The ambience of serene décor and the aroma of special-order beans ground on site makes this a nice place to hide away for a while.

Mad Hatter’s Coffee Cafe & Teahouse
St. Paul Gallery
943 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 227-2511

West Seventh neighbors have a small and friendly place to hang out from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. Grab a cup of hot coffee or choose from an assortment of loose teas. Find a book on the exchange shelf, ease into a comfortable chair under your favorite art and enjoy the ambience. Mad Hatter’s hosts a conversational salon every Tuesday and a Bluegrass Jam every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday morning waffles brings a crowd.

Related: Best Of MN: Best Coffee Shop

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at