Black Coffee and Waffle Bar started out in Minneapolis in 2014, when it was cofounded by the owner of a now defunct coffee shop called Muddsuckers. (It is worth noting that at some point he did a complete 180 when it came to naming his businesses.) Black Coffee and Waffle Bar has done very well owing primarily to two factors — you might guess what they are. They have done their namesakes so well, in fact, that they’ve since opened up a second location in St. Paul, and another in the faraway land of North Dakota.
“When we first started out,” said Keli Gilbertson, Black Coffee and Waffle Bar’s production and sales manager, “we wanted to make it more of a coffee shop with waffles…but the waffles would wind up becoming the star attraction.” It is easy to see how such a thing could have happened. These are waffles made of batter prepared fresh daily, with eggs separated by hand and milk that had been delivered in glass bottles from nearby Autumnwood Farm. They are light, fluffy, perfectly sweet, and impressively big. So photogenic a waffle has contributed much to Black Coffee and Waffle Bar’s success on Instagram.
Regular readers of Shop.Dine.Live. know that I will go to any length, no matter how perilous, to get them the truth that they so dearly deserve, and so I drove to Black Coffee and Waffle Bar for Sunday brunch with my girlfriend. I confirm that their waffles are indeed superb. I ordered the One Bad Pig, with a quarter pound slab of ham and melted swiss on top. Once the ham was pushed to the side and the waffle’s little pits filled with maple syrup, I was on velvet. The girlfriend, too puritanical to consider meat as a waffle topping, ordered the Naughty Waffle buried in blueberries, strawberries, bananas, almond butter, granola, and whipped cream. It would have been entirely possible for the cafe to have omitted the waffle aspect of this dish, and for us not to have known so until its dissection at the table. The Strawberry Cheesecake, which appropriately has homemade cheesecake smeared across it, must wait until the the point when a waffle is again called for, and if I bring an aspiring engineer of fine breakfast foods to the place they will be thrilled by the prospect of building their own ideal waffle à la carte.
Of course, this isn’t just the place where you go to have a giant waffle. It’s a cozy sort of joint, with potted plants and comfy furniture where can you spread out and unload for a while. And to do that, as you know, you’ve got to have a good cup of mud. “We roast all of our coffee beans ourselves in St. Paul,” said Keli. “They come from across the world, always from ethical growers, and we only prepare them in batches of five pounds so we can really fine tune just how they come out. We prefer a light roast, because it keeps the coffee’s subtler notes of cherry, peach, and lime intact.”
“Although we often give people their first jobs preparing coffee, most of our staff is made up of career barristas. I’m proud to say that we’ve got some of the best in the Twin Cities behind the bar. They are able to make lattes with beautiful rosettas and bold line work, which makes coming to us for coffee an occasion instead of something routine. It still tastes the same, but it really shows just how much care we put into making our drinks.”
Any situation would be improved with the addition of a giant waffle and a nice coffee. To see about getting those exquisite things for yourself, head on over to 1500 Como Ave SE in Minneapolis or 2180 Marshall Ave in St. Paul, or visit blackcoffeeandwaffle.com.
By David Scheller