Luckily, over the past few years the area has seen an influx of locally owned coffee shops. While chains like Starbucks and Caribou are always great options for grabbing a latte on the go, nothing can compare to becoming a regular at a shop where you are guaranteed to run into a familiar face and the barista has your order going the second you walk in the door. These seven shops, with their convenient locations, comfortable community atmospheres, and tasty treats, are good enough to be any student’s cup of tea (or coffee).

20 Below Coffee Co. – Best Community Involvement


Founded with the goal of strengthening relationships and developing direct-trade connections with coffee farmers, 20 Below is unlike anything else in Fargo-Moorhead. The drinks, all made with Fair Trade Organic coffees, pair perfectly with the waffles, macarons, and other goodies baked in-house daily. However, it’s not just the food and drinks that make 20 Below stand out; it’s the shop’s commitment to community involvement. The bar closes every day between noon and 1 p.m. for a “community lunch hour” where customers are invited to bring their own food and eat together over conversation and board games. They also host community events like coffee tastings, live musical performances, and Free Espresso Monday when customers can order a shot of espresso stand-alone or in a drink free of charge (because what college student doesn’t need an extra jolt on Monday mornings?).

Moxie Java – Concordia Favorite


While Moxie Java has three great locations in the F-M area, it is the cozy café on Fourth Street in Moorhead that has established itself as a Concordia staple. It’s just a few blocks from campus, and many students love making the short walk to treat themselves to the shop’s most requested drink: a delicious mocha with a shot of caramel syrup, known simply as a Milkee Way. College students aren’t Moxie’s only customers, however; come in any Sunday afternoon and you are likely to see a shop full of children in their church clothes and middle-aged women meeting for book club. Warmed by a fireplace and the scent of fresh coffee, Moxie is a favorite of local students and families alike.

Stumbeano's Coffee Bar – Fargo’s Hidden Gem


Stumbeano’s may be the trickiest coffee shop to find in Fargo-Moorhead, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Tucked away in the lower level of the Loretta Building, it is obviously the product of love and hard work. The business is in a tiny corner of Fargo’s underground, furnished with mismatched wooden tables and vintage metal chairs and run on local support. The teas are imported from Minneapolis, the pastries and breads come from Fergus Falls, and the steel cut oats from Middle River, Minn. Stumbeano's coffee beans and flavored syrups are roasted and prepared in-house. While their most popular drinks are their drip and pour over coffees, the employee-recommended lavender latte is a personal favorite of mine.

Red Raven Espresso Parlor – Hippest Hangout


The Red Raven is a worker owned and operated café, art studio, and gallery located in the converted 916/914 Main Avenue firehouse. They serve an assortment of coffee and tea drinks (my favorite is their chai tea latte with a shot of espresso – a “dirty chai”), as well as homemade sandwiches, salads, and desserts, all of which can be enjoyed inside or out on their patio. Inside the lights are dim, the couches are faded floral velvet, and the artwork is local. Outside the tables are metal, the light poles are wrapped in knit cozies, and the brick walls are lined with potted plants. The Red Raven also hosts weekly events like poetry and comedy open mic nights, making it the place to meet some of Fargo-Moorhead’s most creative and interesting residents.

Babb’s Coffee House – A Taste of Seattle


Tucked between Wimmer’s Diamonds and Rhombus Guys Pizza, Babb’s is the perfect destination for any college student looking to chat with a friend, knock out a paper, or escape to the Pacific Northwest for a few hours. The coffee beans are roasted and air-lifted fresh from Seattle every week, and the décor helps set the tone. Wooden chairs, cozy couches, and a red velvet-lined bench fill the narrow rectangle of a shop, while the exposed brick walls are covered in chipped paint and art by creative locals. Pair their most popular drink, a white chocolate mocha made with real Ghirardelli chocolate, with one of their many delicious muffins, scones, or cheesecake slices for a sweet taste of Seattle (especially on a rainy Fargo day).

Atomic Coffee – Best Meeting Space


With its wall of windows, exposed pipe ceiling, and assorted blown-glass light fixtures, Atomic Coffee feels like the perfect big-city alternative to all of the wonderfully quaint and cozy coffee shops Fargo-Moorhead has to offer. An open floor plan adds to the aesthetic and makes Atomic one of the best places in F-M to host meetings or study groups. There are dozens of small square tables filling the space, perfect for pushing together and gathering around. If you need even more room, there is a reservation-only meeting room in the back of the shop. Of course you’ll need some caffeine and a snack to tide you over during these meetings, so Atomic offers a wide variety of organic, fair-trade coffee drinks (the staff recommends a Café Miel – a latte made with honey and cinnamon), as well as vegetarian and vegan food options.

Nichole’s Fine Pastry – Best Food

13 S. 8TH ST., FARGO

Nichole’s Fine Pastry is a date night favorite in Fargo-Moorhead. While their dainty European décor and delicious drinks are inviting enough, their food is what really keeps people coming back. Chef and owner Nichole Hensen is a North Dakota native and made her way to Fargo after attending the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, Calif. In the last decade she has used her culinary education to create a menu of delectable soups, sandwiches, quiches, and pastries (all made with local, organic ingredients). Bring your bae and pair your French Press with a croissant or cheesecake for a perfectly romantic Parisian evening right in the heart of Fargo.