South Minneapolis has a bright, quirky new coffee shop in its midst. And its character is exactly what the neighborhood was missing.
Less than two months ago, Duck Duck Coffee sprung up at 38th Street and Cedar Avenue, directly across the street from La Loma and Everett’s, the legendary grocery store and butcher.
Duck Duck’s interior is bright and crisp, with clean lines and lots of light that properly pours through its huge front windows. Multi-tiered white pans full of plants cascade from the ceiling, and bare bulbs dangle hither and thither, between hand-cut snowflakes made of printer paper. At the back, a vintage Arkanoid video game console beckons, while some teenage girls to my right play cards at one of the many high-top tables, as a family with a baby gathers in the living room-ish section of the shop.
Also, there are monsters. Huge, blue monsters. With three eyes each. Worming around each other on the western wall.
Those big meanies are just friendly enough to be intriguingly fun, but also perfectly menacing enough to keep the place from being too cute—kinda like spicing up Ikea with a welcomed hallucination.
Duck Duck’s mastermind is none other than Kat Naden. As a veteran of the original Muddy Waters at 24th and Lyndale, Naden understands that character is essential to creating a lasting salon in these modern times.
Her shop’s selection of coffee keeps it simple yet stellar, with offerings like traditional cubanos pulled tiny and sweet, or fluffy cappuccinos, both served with animal crackers. (Mine was a smiley hippo—nature’s deadliest animal, duh.)
The food menu satiates without over-complicating matters, running the gamut from a bakery case loaded with house-made goods, sandwiches smothered in spinach dip or smoked turkey, or a “Sure-Cute-Ery” plate made of carrot sticks with ranch, goldfish crackers, and a Welch’s fruit snack for the wee ones (or kids at heart).
As the new kid in the caffeinated thunderdome, Duck Duck is hosting a variety of events to welcome people to its orbit. They already periodically host a drawing, which is announced ahead of time in the “Stuff/Things” section of their website.
More regularly, Naden has created a monthly book club, designed to get participants “thinking/talking/whatever,” whether through “fiction, nonfiction, books about death, books that might be offensive or weird to some.” They’ll meet to discuss mortician Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory on January 18. (Interested in joining? A shop copy is available for interested participants, lest acquiring the book proves a barrier.) In the future, Naden says she hopes to eventually “do some weird form of music and art and comedy and all that good stuff.”
Duck Duck strikes a great balance in what you’d want from a coffee shop: warm and welcoming enough that everyone has a reason to feel at home and expressive, no matter how you use the space, yet minimal enough in setting that you can actually think—unlike in one’s actual home, where reality can close in a little too fast, and the coffee runs out.
Duck Duck Coffee
1830 E. 38th St., Minneapolis