Looking For Intimate Performances? Catch Live Music At These Five St. Paul Coffeeshops

erik ritland

The Twin Cities feature a wide variety of different types of music venues. Live shows can be heard nightly at arenas, dive bars, breweries, and even bookstores.

Considering that we’re the home of Bob Dylan, who popularized coffeehouse shows in the ‘60s, there are many in the Twin Cities that have live music. Here are five in the capital city that need to be on your radar. 


Payne Avenue in east St. Paul, which used to be a commercial hub, is currently undergoing a major revitalization. Caydence – which is a record store and coffee shop in addition to a live music venue – is a huge part of that. 

They feature live music most Thursday-Sunday nights on a stage in the back of the store. Punk, hard rock, and alternative bands are their bread and butter, but artists of every genre perform there regularly, from folk to rap. Especially intimate are their occasional Saturday or Sunday afternoon shows in the store itself. 

Black Dog

Black Dog has been an iconic spot in Lowertown for over 20 years now. The downhome coffee shop is ideally located near the St. Paul Farmers Market, the Union Depot Green Line light rail station, Mears Park, the Mississippi River, and even CHS Field, where the St. Paul Saints play. They’re best known for their Saturday night jazz series, but World, Roots, Bluegrass, and more can also be heard there nearly every night a week.

Dunn Brothers on Grand

Now a popular chain, Dunn Brothers on Grand is the original location. In a way, it is the original coffee shop of the Twin Cities, at least in the modern era. Performers here have a particular feel and are usually very under-the-radar. Often they feature normal, everyday working people who also play music, which is the very definition of what “folk” music is supposed to be.


Take a slight trek down Snelling from Dunn Brothers and you’ll arrive at Ginkgo, another St. Paul mainstay. Ginkgo features fresh food, multiple flavors of coffee that are brewed daily, and an intimate neighborhood feel. Although they don’t have shows very often, they are always unique and memorable. Folk, world, and roots musicians from across North America have played to intimate crowds at Ginkgo. 

Amore Coffee

If you don’t frequent the west side of St. Paul, you might not be aware of Amore Coffee (technically it’s in the city of West St. Paul, so I’m cheating a little bit here). That’s a shame, because they share all the intimacy and uniqueness of the other, more popular coffeeshops on this list. Like Caydence, they are tucked away in a largely residential area, but unlike Caydence it’s a pretty scenic drive to get there, especially if you take the high bridge across the Mississippi. Music-wise, Amore is akin to Dunn Brothers on Grand, as they largely feature under-the-radar independent musicians. 


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