Brothers Ed and Dan Dunn fell in love with coffee and the community it connected in the coffee houses of Eugene, Oregon. So, in 1987 they got their hands on a 12-kilo Probat roaster and started slinging beans in their hometown of St. Paul. Today, Dunn Bros Coffee stretches across nine states, roasting coffee beans in small batches, hand-drawing espresso, and showcasing local artists’ work just as Ed and Dan envisioned 25 years ago. Trained to the brothers' standards, baristas at all the shops craft coffee drinks such as Infinite Black iced coffee and create three layers of foam when steaming milk or building bouncy coffee houses.
The coffee, itself, comes from across the globe—from locales such as Costa Rica, Brazil, and Rwanda. In 2000, the brothers entered a fair-trade distribution agreement, and in 2011, they began a program to ensure all their coffee beans come from sustainably produced sources.
The bakers at The Cupcake Express blend fresh eggs, sugar, and cream to whip up moist, flavorful cakes topped with puffs of velvety frosting. Their cupcakes and mini cupcakes tempt sweet teeth with 14 epicurean flavors—including strawberry lemonade and chocolate with raspberry cream cheese—and icings that range from fluffy meringues to sweetened cream cheese. In addition, they dole out cheesecake bites that would be a hit at any Lilliputian birthday bash.
Mister Bulky doles out the largest selection of Jelly Belly jellybeans in the Midwest as the headliner to a gargantuan cast of confectionery classics. Rock-candy sticks ($.90) and Pop Rocks ($1.25) turn mouths into scrumptious excavation sites for mining bicuspids and spelunking molars. Classic offerings of candy corn ($6.99/lb.) and salt-water taffy ($6.99/lb.) evoke feelings of childhood bliss, and one-pound Jawbreakers prompt mouthwatering studies in diameter and circumference ($7.50/piece). Chocolate Ice Cubes ($11.99/lb.) melt in your mouth before a flapper-garb-wearing Charleston Chew dances across your taste buds ($1.25). Both Mister Bulky locations don candy-themed wall décor and end-to-end bins of sweets that, similar to child-run gambling rings, strike a playful balance between organization and childlike bliss.
Once, upon adding the finishing whiskers to her custom wedding cake, Cherie stared in horror at what she had done. The cake looked exactly like an armadillo: beady eyes, bulbous armor, spindly claws. Concerned with its semblance to the rodent, Cherie insisted that her client come by and assess the cake before making her final decision to present it as her wedding centerpiece. The bride-to-be let out a squeal of joy. “I love it! It’s exactly what I wanted.” Cherie let out a sigh of relief.
Cherie, who has been decorating cakes for 30 years, admits that there’s no accounting for taste. Despite her personal opinions on armadillos, she was heartened by her client’s elation, which is ultimately why she began baking in first place. “It’s so much fun watching kids eat their first birthday cake that you’ve worked on for hours, or to get thank-you notes from brides who say your cake tastes just as good a year later, at their one-year anniversary.”
To ensure that smiles and thank-you notes continue to pour in, Cherie collaborates with clients to design the ideal treat for their celebrations. She reviews photos with them during in-person consultations, and even requests napkins and invitations in order to design a cake to complement each event’s aesthetic. After assembling her cakes, she swathes their fluffy exteriors with her sherry cream frosting, which adds an oaky and sweet finish.
Hot sandwiches and cold scoops of ice cream dominate the menu at The Eagle Scoop, a comfortable, all-American neighborhood spot that specializes in familiar, made-to-order meals. Diners can build custom sandwiches or paninis that arrive piled with turkey, swiss, and a variety of dressings. Smaller dishes such as cups of daily-made soup and chili-cheese dogs can round out meals or serve as their own meal. Diners can finish meals with ice cream, brownie sundaes, banana splits, or malts.
Decorative drapes, a chandelier, and houseplants on a white mantle lend Carrie Lyn's Ice Cream Parlor an elegant, inviting ambiance. Seated around wooden tables, patrons dip spoons into 16 flavors of ice cream, sip shakes, and devour treats like the cookie-laced Boonville Bellyache. The shop also prepares sandwiches such as the Tristy, which combines ham, bacon, swiss cheese, and avocado on a grilled ciabatta roll.