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You’re In Caribou Country

May 31, 2012

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I took a trip to Minnesota.  Minnesota, you ask?  Well, the reason for going to Minnesota is because this is where my husband is from.  In fact, the majority of his family still live in Minnesota.  When we arrived and were trying to figure out our plans for our time in the Twin Cities (that’s Minneapolis and St. Paul for those of you who don’t know) my husband jokingly said he was going to go in search of Starbucks.  My sister-in-law immediately said to us, “you’re in Caribou Country.”  That means, Starbucks are few and far between in this metropolis.  Instead, what you will find is a coffee-house called Caribou Coffee.  I soon found out that my sister-in-law wasn’t joking when she said we were in Caribou Country.  As we spent some time driving around Saint Paul (located on the Eastern bank of the mighty Mississippi River), I discovered that much as I can find Starbucks every 2 blocks here in Los Angeles, I can find a Caribou Coffee location every 2 blocks in Saint Paul.  Naturally, I was intrigued at what Caribou Coffee was.  It’s no secret that I love coffee drinks (see: Cold Coffee Drinks Come in Many Forms), so I knew I was going to have to give Caribou Coffee a try before I left Minnesota.

In 1990 the idea for Caribou Coffee was born.  From the top of Sable Mountain in Alaska, after a long and strenuous climb as part of an adventure trip, and having seen a breathtaking view filled with endless mountains as far as the eye could see, limitless blue skies and a herd of caribou thundering across the valley floor below, the founders found their “aha” moment.  This view, with the herd of caribou became the vision for the company that stands behind the thought that excellence is bourne of hard work, and that life is entirely too short for anything less than that.  They want each guest to visit caribou coffee and not only experience the highest-quality coffee but an amazing customer service experience.  The culture at Caribou Coffee is that they are here to share “an extraordinary experience that feeds the soul.”  And they aspire to be “the community place I love.”  Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Caribou Coffee has over 500 locations mainly located in the Upper Midwest, Midwest and Plain states, with over 200 locations in Minnesota alone.

Like many other coffee houses found throughout the country, Caribou coffee serves your standard fare of coffees, teas, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate among other items.  But, keeping with their philosophy of creative, environmental sustainability and high-quality, they also serve a number of coffee- and tea-based drinks that have a distinctively Upper Midwest flair.  For instance, a number of their drinks feature berries which are abundant in that region of the country, such as the berry mocha cooler.  Or perhaps other regional fruit flavors such as Apple Blast Cooler, or the White Peach Berry Smoothie or the Pomegranate Oolong tea latte.  Some of these items, among others, that I’ve never seen in my local coffee shop before.  For me, an orange key lime smoothie not only sounds unique, but refreshing.  Or what about the campfire mocha, which is a blend of premium melted chocolate in steamed milk, mixed with espresso shots and marshmallow flavors topped with whipped cream, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.  Yum.  How could you resist?

Another interesting twist to the drinks Caribou Coffee serves is the choice they give customers for their drinks that come with chocolate.  All of their mocha drinks come with premium chocolate.  But it’s not just any old kind of chocolate, they actually give the customer their choice of whether or not you want dark, milk or white chocolate.  This is the first time I’ve ever heard of anything like that.  Options like that certainly make for a different experience every time you order a coffee drink!

For my first, and only (but hopefully not last) experience with Caribou Coffee, I knew I wanted to try something that I couldn’t get at my local Starbucks.  After quickly looking over the menu, I saw a drink that caught my eye.  Something called the cookies & cream snowdrift.  With a drink named a snowdrift, how could you go wrong?  I was specifically looking for a blended cold drink that this drink certainly caught my eye, though I had no idea exactly what it was.  I later came to learn that I had actually ordered a coffee-free drink.  Oops!  But that didn’t make it taste any less good.  My snowdrift was a blend of chocolate with vanilla syrup, cookie bits and milk.  The drink is then topped with whipped cream and more cookie bits.  Since I had never been to a Caribou Coffee before, I was actually stumped by the cashier who asked me if I wanted dark, milk or white chocolate.  Being caught off guard, I made the quick decision to order milk chocolate.  Had I realized that I was going to be given a choice of chocolate, I probably would have ordered white chocolate instead.

It made no difference though.  The drink was delicious.  Creamy, smooth, and just a little sweet.  The cookie flavor really comes through, which I liked.  My husband wasn’t originally going to have any of my drink, but couldn’t resist when he saw it.  After trying the drink, he was actually pretty impressed as well as to how it came out.  So much so he wanted to finish the rest of my drink and joked that he thought I had ordered it for him.

You can bet that the next time I’m out visiting family in Minnesota, I’ll make sure to stop by Caribou Coffee again and try some of their other drinks.  Really, you just can’t go wrong with a place that calls itself Caribou Coffee!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    May 31, 2012 9:59 am

    I’m glad you had a Caribou while you were here. I went to Barnes and Noble last night to feed my book addiction, and I said to Greg, “we should stop at Starbucks and get dessert (a dessert drink) when we leave” because there is a Starbucks in that store. But we forgot, so then I said, we should just stop at Caribou. I really felt for a good chocolately coffee drink. My friend who lives out east loves Caribou so much she gets it whenever she comes here and even bought stock in the company.

    • May 31, 2012 10:48 am

      I loved it! And if I lived in Minnesota, or any other state that had Caribou, I’d probably be there a lot. I love the variety in different flavors they had. It’s too bad I only had one drink. I’m sure next time I’m in Minnesota, I’ll have to have it again!

  2. May 31, 2012 7:41 pm

    Now I want one!

  3. June 9, 2012 10:52 pm

    Interesting post from which I could learn a lot of coffees and especially from Caribou Coffee.

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