Keeping Up with Coffee in the Willmar Lakes Area
By Bailey Hovland
Ah, it’s finally the weekend. Monday is a distant memory, with its responsibilities and due dates and meetings far, far away. Saturday offers so much potential—time to catch up on the laundry, grocery shop for meals during the week, or fix the leaky faucet in the kitchen. Although Saturday offers us these opportunities to catch up and prepare for the coming week, how often do we set aside time in our weekend plans to destress and take some well-deserved me time? This me time doesn’t have to be something expensive or elaborate, just something that allows us to relax. And since the weather is already beginning to look like winter, with temperatures dipping below freezing and snow in thin layers on the ground, what better place to take some me time than a local coffee shop? With warm atmospheres and unique specialty beverages, local coffee shops in the Willmar Lakes Area offer more than a jolt of caffeine when you’re on the go. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to dive into that book you bought this summer in hopes that you’d have time to read it or a place to meet up with friends, the Willmar Lakes Area has the perfect coffee shop for you.
Beginning with the Best Coffee Shop In Minnesota (according to WCCO Viewers’ Choice), Lulu Beans Coffee House in Willmar serves delicious mochas, lattes, and plenty more. Whether you’re looking for a panini, scone, cup of soup, or just a plain old cup of coffee, Lulu Beans will exceed your
expectations and make it difficult to choose just one thing. Step in the front door to be greeted by an eclectic atmosphere, complete with repurposed wood and mix-and-match décor. The coffee house, remodeled from an old home, has different rooms to suit your needs. If you’re looking for a quiet place to read, head to their library, full of used books you can take with you after you’ve finished your coffee. If you’d like a space away from hubbub of visitors coming and going, take the stairs and claim one of the refurbished bedrooms for some peace and quiet. This one-of-a-kind coffee shop has something for everyone.
If you were hoping to enjoy a sandwich and salad combo with your cup of coffee, Deidra’s Espresso Café is the place for you. Their lunch options are delicious, serving up unique salads you can’t find at a chain restaurant. Caramelized pecans, craisins, chicken, poppy seed dressing; you name it they probably have in on a salad. And if you were hoping to top your meal off with dessert, Deidra’s is prepared. Enjoy a delectable dessert like white chocolate almond amaretto cheesecake, chocolate overload cupcakes, and pecan caramel rolls. Drop in to treat yourself to some great food and delicious coffee.
For the avid reader, Lake Affect Coffee is the coffee shop for you. Located in downtown New London, Lake Affect Coffee combines quality coffee with books, books, and more books functioning as a dual space for their coffee and Flyleaf Book Shop. Every wall is lined with a bookshelf, making you feel like you’re visiting a local library rather than a coffee house. They serve drinks and food, having a new soup every day of the week to keep their menu fresh. Each week features a new coffee beverage focused on the time of year with creations like the s’mores mocha in the summer and white chocolate peppermint lattes during the transition from fall to winter. It’s the perfect space to curl up for hours without a care in the world, surrounded by books and warmed by a delicious specialty drink.
While in downtown New London, you could also stop at the Middle Fork Café. Right on Highway 9 you can pull over and enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the café. Visitors often refer to the desserts as Middle Fork’s crowning jewel, and for good reason. From pumpkin spice cheesecake, decorated with the mini mellocreme pumpkins we all know and love, to cookie dough almond torte, this café takes their dessert seriously. And of course, they offer great coffee items like affogatos and breves that perfectly pair with the large range of desserts, making this café the complete package.
Downtown Willmar offers visitors yet another option for local coffee. The Goodness Coffee House is a local shop with a more minimalist style. Stop in for a matcha latte, vegan pizza, or white chocolate raspberry scone and stay awhile to enjoy local artwork hanging from the walls. Although they have delicious coffee, they also focus on humanitarian efforts, like serving only 100% fair-trade, organic coffee beans and fundraising for the victims of the Mogadishu bombing in Somalia. Within the Willmar Lakes Area, The Goodness has started a community meal program and started a blog called the “People of Willmar” to highlight local people who make a difference in the community. Spend some time by their fireplace relaxing and just letting your mind wander.
Falling softly from the sky and settling into the still-visible blades of grass, snowflakes begin to cover the Earth. Steam rises from your coffee cup with notes of espresso and cinnamon, and you feel at peace sitting in front of the coffee house’s window. Whether you’re relaxing in the library at Lulu Beans or lounging by the fire at The Goodness, take some time for yourself this November. And of course, enjoy that time with a nice cup of coffee from the many cafes around the Willmar Lakes Area.
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