Destination Coffee: Lake Superior Java Trail

Maple Latte from fika (Lutsen, MN)

Recently on American Nomad we have been exploring Lake Superior Country from Minnesota’s North Shore to Wisconsin and Michigan.

Outside of the heavenly scenery was the amazing coffee shops I discovered on the journey.

I always make a point to seek out local coffee shops and roasters when I’m traveling to a new area. It is a great way to take in the local brew culture and support local businesses; not to mention the fact a hot cup of coffee powers me to trailblaze to adventure.

I wanted to take time to share the coffee highlights from Superior Country.


Minnesotans are coffee aficionados – they truly embrace the Swedish concept of ‘fika’ – a coffee break. Driving hundreds of miles through the Land of Lakes, one thing that was consistent – each small town had the perfect gathering spot for a hot cup of coffee.

National Coffee Chains – Minnesota Ground

Minnesota is the headquarters of national coffee chain Caribou Coffee. While Starbucks dominates most markets, in Minnesota, Caribou is king. I definitely grabbed my favorite Caribou smoothie and pumpkin spice while traveling through lake country, including Caribou’s unique location in Hinckley, MN

Caribou Coffee is served hot, iced and full of flavor at popular interstate stop, Tobie’s in Hinckley. Halfway between Minneapolis and Duluth – this is the ideal place for a driving break and coffee fueling.

What makes Tobie’s unique is they serve Caribou Coffee, but are anchored by their homemade scrumptious breads, pastries and sandwiches. I’m gluten free and was overjoyed to discovered an entire section of GF goodies like ginger cookies and muffins! To learn more about Tobie’s click here.

The Local Roasters:

Conduct a search on local coffee roasters – Minnesota and you’ll get hundreds of results. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to take a shot of every coffee shop, but I was blessed to find some treasures. Here are my North Shore Discoveries:


I stumbled upon this Swedish inspired Lutsen coffee shop, while driving north towards the Canadian border. Located in Lutsen, this local roaster has the ‘fika – (pronounced fee-ka) Swedish coffee break’ down to a science. Their coffee is is made in small batches right in their cozy shop locaed in the quaint North Shore town of Lutsen.

Lutsen is a community located on the edge of Lake Superior and the Lutsen Mountains. The Lutsen Moutains are one of the prime areas for skiing in the Midwest and the Lutsen area is renowned for amazing beauty.

Fika was offering season drinks when I passed through in September and to try the Maple Latte. Maple syrup is locally sourced (tapped) in Minnesota, so I noticed ‘maple’ was a popular coffee flavor in the region.

The latte had just enough of a bold kick to power me through the day, while also combining creamy succulent tones with a touch of maple.

You can purchase their coffee online.

Their Lutsen location is located just off Highway 61 by The Clearview Store – an awesome outfitter meets general store.

Fika is cozy with intimate seating. The decor is very Swedish, with the clean lines of IKEA but the craftsmanship you would expect from the finest Swedish craftsmanship.

I loved the hand draw unique paintings detailing traditional Scandanavian stories.

Check out fika online and give yourself permission to indulge in their online ordering system – you deserve a ‘coffee break’

Java Moose:

The Java Moose Espresso Cafe is a ‘moose’ stop while in the artsy lakefront community of Grand Marais. Its central location a stone’s throw from Lake Superior, provides a laidback gathering spot for conversation and of course savory coffee, tea and treats.

Minnesota is known for it’s wildlife like wolves, bears and the beautiful, but often cranky moose. I love the cafe’s creative name.

After exploring the scenic Gunflint Trail drive (around 50 mile scenic road near Grand Marais), I enjoyed a coffee break at Java Moose. Their autumn menu did not disappoint, from Nordic Miel Latte with honey, cinnamon and sugar to the Harbor Fog Earl Grey…I settled on the Maple Latte and a gluten free monster cookie.

You don’t have to fly to Grand Marais to sip this Java – they ship their coffee from their online store.

Two Harbors, MN (roughly forty minutes north of Duluth on the North Shore) is home to several amazing coffee shops.

I enjoyed a stop at Cedar Coffee Company, which is connected with popular cycle company. I enjoyed a caramel latte – it was a light roast – with just enough kick to power me on my next stretch of highway.

The White Pine Market combines coffee and consignment into a fun artsy cafe and market. They use Minnesota made Golden Eagle coffee.

Duluth Coffee Company is the go to roaster for many of the North Country’s coffee shops. They have a fantastic webstore and coffee blog.


While I’ll dedicate a future blog post to may favorite coffee shops in Wisconsin – I wanted to feature another Lake Superior favorite on The Bayfield Peninsula of Lake Superior.

Washburn, WI is one of several gateways to The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Bayfield, Washburn and Ashland, WI while visiting the Apostle area.

The one coffee shop on this list I visited twice (it was so amazing) was North Coast Coffee.

Located in an unassuming drive through building off the main drag, this coffee spot is a hidden gem. They feature an amazing blend of craft coffees, local roasts and pastries. I fell in love with their Brown Sugar Pecan Latte and Pumpkin Spice.

Not to mention they have an amazing assortment of Gluten Free options – including the best pumpkin muffin I’ve ever eaten. It was moist with a glaze of white icing.

Learn more on their facebook page.

Until we meet again may a good cup of java get you through your daily grind.

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