- Food Culture -

Cup of Dreams

Pilar Gerasimo on finding the perfect cup of coffee.

Coffee

I’ve been driven bonkers for years now by how hard it is — outside of San Francisco, Seattle or Portland — to find a coffee shop that offers a latté made with organic milk. I hardly ever drink milk, so if I’m going to indulge in a latté, I want the real, unadulterated thing. And the real, unadulterated thing is surprisingly tough to come by.

Once upon a time, for a brief moment, some Starbucks locations stocked perma-keep, aseptically packed organic milk for picky drinkers like me, but then they stopped. (I believe this was about the same time they expanded their hideous selection of pale, low-fat pastries — perhaps they ran short of shelf space).

Anyway, with the crazy hope that my inquiries will contribute to some kind of critical-mass consumer demand, I’ve just kept on asking every barista I encounter: “Do you have organic milk?” Typically, the bewildered person behind the counter asks me to repeat the question. Sometimes they say “Sorry, no.” But more often, they reply with something ambiguous like, “Um … we have soy?”

Sigh.

Well, thanks to the wonderful word-of-mouth chain at work (one of our editors, Anjula, told another of our editors, Courtney, and Courtney told me), I yesterday discovered a coffee shop I had hitherto only dared dream of: Kopplin’s (www.kopplinscoffee.com) in St. Paul.

On the first day of spring weather, my dad, Jerry Gerasimo, and Experience Life senior editor Courtney Helgoe soaked up sun and superb coffee outside Kopplin’s (Hamline and Randolph, St. Paul).

Not only do they offer organic milk, it’s the only milk they serve. And it’s not just organic: It’s whole organic — from local, pasture-fed cows grazed on organic grass — and it’s packed in glass bottles.

But wait, it gets better. Kopplin’s also serves fair-trade coffee — divine espresso drinks and a beautiful array of made-fresh-by-the-cup drip brews — prepared to perfection. Seriously, best latté I’ve had inside the U.S., and quite possibly the best latté I’ve had ever.

Anyway, for all these reasons and more (no skim, no decaf, lots of thought behind all their decisions and aesthetics — visit their FAQ page for more info), Kopplin’s is my new favorite coffee shop.

The crazy part is, they’ve been there for years, right in the ‘hood — I just didn’t know about them.

I figure if THIS wild hope of mine can come true, it means that dozens of others can, too. Walking and biking paths everywhere! Kids learning how their brains and digestive systems work in grade school! Family farmers making a living doing what they love! Hurrah!

Somewhere(s), right now, I know all these and many more wonderful things are happening, and I trust that they — like the Kopplin’s coffee shops of the world — will just continue to flourish. In the meantime, any time I get discouraged about the state of the world, I’m going to Kopplin’s for a whole-milk latté. I’ll just take my seat on the sidewalk and sip until my hope is nudged from its slumber.

Pilar Gerasimo is the founding editor of Experience Life.

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