A guide to the downtown coffee scene
Despite its abysmal location in the middle of nowhere, downtown Fargo knows its coffee.
If you were wondering where to meet your friends for a cup of joe or a cozy place to work on Saturday, I compiled a ranking of coffee shops in the downtown area to help.
I’ve ranked the beaneries based on atmosphere, craft and taste, sampling a house brew and espresso craft beverage (a mocha) at each. Lowest rankings will receive one coffee cup, and highest will receive five.
Located underground in Robert’s Alley, Stumbeano’s felt like I was in the basement of my grandparents’ house — but not in a bad way.
Lucky for me, I was greeted at the door by an old friend and fellow barista, which created a welcoming environment from the get-go.
They offer a standard menu along with an assortment of pastries.
The mocha I ordered was made with love and was served in a donated mug, which I can appreciate. (Save the planet!)
That day, they were brewing their own beans from Guatemala with mild notes of citric acidity and a nutty finish.
While the atmosphere was cozy, it was more conducive to a good conversation than homework.
Red Raven Espresso Parlor: 2/5
The experience at Red Raven could have been leaps and bounds better by better lighting and better parking.
The lighting inside is too dark to work, but it creates the perfect atmosphere for when they host open mic nights and concerts.
Red Raven brings an alternative and eclectic vibe to the hipster stereotype of coffee shops downtown, and it’s well-suited for a more underground community.
With that said, Red Raven is the perfect place for those looking for a strong (and I mean strong) cup of joe.
Twenty Below Coffee Co.: 4/5
Twenty Below is admired and well-known in the community for its involvement and hospitable environment.
The barista taking your order will start the conversation with a compliment, making you feel at home when you walk in the door.
Despite this, the only reason I didn’t give Twenty Below a 5/5 was the intense bitterness to their espresso and house roast, Blizzard of ’66.
Young Blood Coffee: 5/5
When scheming up the idea for a coffee shop review, I had yet to visit Young Blood’s new location in Roberts Commons.
Over the course of my endeavor to dive into downtown Fargo’s coffee scene, I found myself always wanting to go back to Young Blood even though I had other places to check off my list.
Their brew of the day was slightly acidic and very earthy. The mocha I ordered was smooth and creamy, with the perfect amount of foam. My only critique was it cooled down too quickly, but that can easily be fixed by ordering it above the normal temperature.
The inside is bright and welcoming, and I found it to be the perfect environment to spend a few hours grinding out assignments.
Young Blood isn’t like other coffee shops in that they play their music via vinyl records through an incredible setup that any music lover could appreciate while sipping on the sweet nectar of the gods.
Atomic Coffee: 5/5
I have nothing but good things to say about Atomic Coffee.
The location is in the heart of downtown on Broadway with plenty of parking. I have never had to leave and search for a new place to work due to lack of seating like I have done several times at other locations. Their drinks are consistent, and the staff is always friendly.
Their house brew was smooth with the slightest amount of acidity, but it wasn’t overwhelming like many roasts can be.
Atomic Coffee has become my go-to for work or meeting up with friends, but Young Blood has certainly given this coffee house a run for its money.
Nichole’s Fine Pastry: 5/5
Leave your devices at home — Nichole’s doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but this is a choice I can get behind.
The lack of internet pushes you to concentrate on the work or conversation at hand rather than getting distracted by social media.
Nichole’s doubles as a cafe with dozens of delicious options for lunch or dessert.
Nichole’s Fine Pastry is not a place to sleep on.
Babb’s Coffee House: 3/5
Babb’s is certainly one of the coolest looking coffee houses in Fargo, but this could be to distract from the lacking brews.
The house brew, Dancing Goats, was OK, as was their mocha, but there was something lacking from the taste, and it seemed to be watered down.
I visited around lunch time, and their special for the day smelled divine, so maybe their food is better than their coffee.
Despite this, I will one day give Babb’s another chance.