Review: Black Coffee and Waffle Bar

by Grant Tillery

Muddsuckers was an entirely forgettable coffee shop.  Business was bad for good reasons; the employees were dismissive, the atmosphere evoked a cluttered small-town thrift store and the owners cut corners with ingredient sourcing.  In this day and age of boutique coffee shops, a cheap cup of joe doesn’t cut it, thus Muddsuckers was destined for doom.

Thankfully, the owners rebranded the space as Black Coffee and Waffle Bar and simultaneously improved the quality of drinks and grub.  Instead of schlepping Folgers-grade coffee a la Muddsuckers, Black sources their beans from local stalwart Dogwood Coffee; their cappuccino is now the pinnacle of palatable latte art instead of a watered-down miasma.  Pastries from South Minneapolis bakery A Baker’s Wife replace the generic sandwiches that graced Muddsuckers’ pastry case; the brownie, when available, is especially delicious.

But the stars of the show at Black are undoubtedly their waffles.  Black’s commitment to singularity pays off thanks to co-owner Lisa Ply’s perfected recipe.  The waffles are subtly sweet and airy — a far cry from the Eggo dreck passed off as waffles in grocery stores — and come in eight different incarnations.  Spring for the Naughty Waffle ($8), a health-conscious treat that belies its devilish name.  It’s smothered with almond butter, then topped off with fresh berries, sliced banana, granola and whipped cream.  A small, silver cup filled with real maple syrup comes on the side and ties the ingredients together with a faint ambrosial tang.

Don’t get your waffle to go — Black’s digs incorporate the sleek ‘60s futuristic minimalism that is en vogue.  The seating is expanded as well, and the quiet room that once functioned as a thrift store is a great place for a lunch date or a late-night study session.  Though service is still a tad rusty, it’s no longer affected and snotty. 

Business was light on the Tuesday afternoon I was there, but Black has quickly been embraced by the neighborhood; it was packed during finals week, and it’s easy to see why.  There are few trifectas stronger than affordability, good coffee and tantalizing waffles, and Black’s singular formula will help it become a local institution.