I used to frequent Nina's and I have to say that I stopped going because I also found it to be expensive and I found the baristas to be incredibly rude. What kept me as a regular at the time was the quality of the espresso and some of the menu items. Regardless of those positive factors, I took more than a year and a half long absence. About two weeks ago, I went back in only because I was in the neighborhood and was in need of an afternoon pick up. I could not have been more delighted at the complete attitude change! I was greeted as I entered the cafe even though there was a line of 5 people waiting to place an order. I made my way to the back of the line and suddenly, as if feeding off of the buzz of customer need, was a swarming army of baristas. They spread out over the line of customers and took orders on post-it notes before people even reached the register. By the time most of the people were paying, their drinks were ready! I thought this too good to be true, so I figured I'd offer a true test. Along with my order, I asked for the always-attitude-inducing glass of ice water :) The girl behind the counter called me "hun" and pointed me towards the self-serve water cooler but not before offering me a larger glass than what was stocked by the water station. She filled the cup half with ice and asked if that was enough. I asked for more and she gave it to me without a snarl and may have even had a slight smile on her face! I was shocked at the regard for customer service. The baristas were fast and friendly. I have been back twice since my initial return and have found that the Nina's staff is officially attitude free and successfully burying their old rep of being anything close to rude. The menu was still on the pricey side but I understand that small businesses need to take that measure to insure survival, especially in the economic situation of today. I have fallen in love with the new Nina's and am proud to say that I am, again, a regular.
One of the only African-American owned coffee shops in the Twin Cities, The Golden Thyme is a coffee shop with a classy, jazz-influenced interior, and the joke-cracking, news-trading intimacy of an old-fashioned barbershop. Pastors, city council members, police district commanders and beat patrolers, community organizers, nonprofit managers, constructions workers, mechanics, local business owners, and amateur boxers are among the clientele who crowd the shop in the morning and after work. Like most coffee shops, the Golden Thyme is a place where people go to work, but unlike most others, the work done there is more likely to be intense one-to-ones with political allies on local zoning or contracting laws, than individual work on a paper or report. Indeed, The Golden Thyme may well be the coffee shop with the fewest laptops-per-customer average in the Twin Cities. The food and coffee are good enough, but the reason to come is for the community.
They have good brewed fresh coffee AND all of the blends (ie, med & dark roast), something that is hard too find in any coffee shop today (even "Starbucks") with the excuse of "we're conserving waste"---bs, they're lazy. The atmosphere is 'quaint' (antique like) and large enough too be off by yourself with a good book. "Rude staff"? (MaggieShriver): are you a transplant and not used to "Minnesota Nice?" People in St Paul are NOT interactive or "in your face." If that's what you want go to Minneapolis for a 'bit' more flair and progressiveness. The 2 cities are VERY different: coming from a native born.