The small coffee shop Uncommon Grounds lives up to its name by being the antithesis of the run-of-the-mill coffeehouse. The building itself is a house. Customers enter through a screen door off a white wooden porch and step into a 139-year-old home. The brass espresso machine along with mirrored and gold accents provide a retro feel.
Uncommon Grounds has a reputation for its chai latte that warranted testing. Many coffee shops make overly sweet and syrupy chai lattes, and good ones are in short supply. The Uncommon Grounds version ($4) did not disappoint. Its subtly sweet combination of cloves, anise, and honey, finished with a touch of cinnamon, made for a rounded sweetness that didn’t overpower the drink’s delicate tea flavor.
Due to the chai’s popularity, Uncommon Grounds’ menu has expanded to include a number of variations. These include Pumpkin Chai, Coconut Chai, and the customer-named Orgasmic Chai (the base flavor mixed with pumps of marshmallow syrup).
The secret of the store’s chai is well-guarded. “I went and tasted a whole bunch of different recipes and had a company make the chai for us, and they’ve made it for us for years now,” says store owner Dale Lee. After mentioning that he never gives away his secrets — and noting with exasperation that many have tried to pry the recipe from him — Lee said that the mixture features honey crystals, nutmeg, and cinnamon as its main components.
Uncommon Grounds Coffeehouse, 2809 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis; 612.872.4811