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Bites Nearby: Dunn Bros Coffee in Maple Grove

Get a smooth cold press, hot espresso or a myriad of other caffeinated drinks at this cozy shop - but don't overlook the food, either.

Of the three coffee chains that dominate Minnesota, is often most popular among food observers.

Fresh beans and creative coffee drinks, a neighborhood feel, and the fact most stores are locally owned and operated has resonated. You know what you’re getting at every Caribou and Starbucks, and while there is certainly value in predictability, at Dunn Bros. every store has its own identity.

At Maple Grove’s location on Main Street, whether it’s a group of older gentleman having morning coffee and conversation, families enjoying a drink and the free computers, or just businesspeople stopping in for a caffeine jolt, this coffee shop feels like it’s a neighborhood hub. The workers, led by capable manager Nick Sharp, happily greet patrons - many by name - and seem to truly enjoy the experience of barista employ.

This is only half the reason Dunn Bros. is successful, though, and the other half is simply the coffee.

Dunn Bros. roasts beans each day in-store, and the freshness is apparent every time, whether in a cold press or Vanilla Iced Nirvana (which, on a recent 95-degree day, was rather appropriate) or a French press, espresso drink or simple brewed coffee.

Take a Full City roast of a Nicaraguan bean. It’s a complex brew with only a hint of bitterness and an Earthy smoothness. Not often would you classify a hot, French-pressed cup as “refreshing,” but in this case, yes. Clearly this bean hasn’t been roasted beyond recognition - its full flavor profile is evident with every sip.

Food options at Maple Grove’s are plentiful and include sandwiches like roasted turkey and a grilled cheese, a yogurt parfait with fruit and granola, oatmeal and a bevy of baked goods like cinnamon and sticky caramel rolls, coffee cake, banana chocolate chip bread, and several varieties of scones, biscotti and muffins. Breakfast is taken care of, too, with biscuit-and-egg sandwiches. There are even Evol burritos, which are as healthy and Earth-friendly as a mass-produced burrito can get.

A nice touch: glass-bottle Mexican Coke, which is the absolute perfect drink with any sandwich anywhere, period (before 5 p.m., anyway).

These reasons define why we’ve seen such a coffee-shop surge in the past 15 years. People want to be among friends, they want a good product at a fair price, and they want to be a nano-celebrity like Norm on “Cheers.”

At places like Sharp’s Maple Grove Dunn Bros., that’s possible.

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