Wesley Andrews in Whittier

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

It’s not as if the Twin Cities was facing a dire shortage of quality coffee and tea purveyors. Even so, Wesley Andrews, near Eat Street, has carved out a unique niche in that market, and it’s doing good work.

The shop’s tagline is “Conversation Complements,” and that goes both for the customers, who can enjoy a quality, hand-crafted beverage and for the owners, Johan Podlweski and Jared Thompson, whose approach to sourcing involves getting to know farmers and making sure they’re treated fairly and humanely.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

All of which is lovely but doesn’t mean much if the beverages are secondary to the shop’s mission. That’s not the case with Wesley Andrews. The menu is somewhat more limited than the average coffee/tea shop’s. While you’ll find add-ons like chocolate and honey, what you don’t see is an extensive line of vanilla-caramel-pumpkin-spice whipped-cream lattes and frozen drinks. The choices are clean and simple, and more oriented to the savory than the sweet, with the menu divided between coffee and espresso drinks and a variety of teas and kombucha. The shop doesn’t offer food items, but if you want a pastry with your coffee or tea, you’ll be fine; Glam Doll Donuts is just two blocks away.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

On recent visits, we tried the Spring Thyme ($5.50), an iced tea made to order with Cammelia daliensis (a rare, wild tea species) silver needle, grapefruit juice, and thyme. This is a milder beverage than it may sound, with just a hint of grapefruit and thyme. Served with a lemon twist and a sprig of thyme, it’s a bright, cheerful drink, light and airy, entirely summery.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Malabar ($3.50) appears on the menu as an Herbal Tonic and is a hot concoction made of ginger, Malabar black peppercorns, turmeric, lemongrass, and licorice root. It is perhaps best described as chai tea’s lighter, daintier cousin. It’s also refreshing and light, with just enough ginger and peppercorn to give a slightly spicy aftertaste that’s surprising and welcome.

On the coffee side, we tried the Kyoto Cold Brew ($4), which was robust and full-flavored, but fairly low in acid, with a smooth coffee flavor. In typical cold brews, coffee grounds and water are steeped together for a long period, but Wesley Andrews uses a drip method in which a drop of water at a time is released into the grounds, works its way through, and is strained into a clean container. The cold brew is produced in about half the time it takes for the regular process, without suffering a reduction in flavor.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Another thing Wesley Andrews does right is how it treats its customers. Sometimes staff at higher-quality coffee and tea shops have a bit of an attitude, a “we’re experts and you’re not” undertone to communications. Which is not to say they’re wrong, but many customers would prefer not to be condescended to. At all our visits to Wesley Andrews, we found staff to be friendly and low-key, happy to answer questions and explain their processes and approaches, with never a whiff of condescension. In other words, they seemed happier to share their knowledge than to use it to feel important, and that’s an excellent quality — one that does, indeed, complement conversations.

Wesley Andrews, 111 E 26th St, Minneapolis; 612.460.7739

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