43rd and Upton

The holiday buzz

There are very few people who wouldn’t be happy to receive a holiday gift of impeccably sourced, locally roasted coffee.

For those few people, Coffee & Tea Ltd also offers a selection of very fine teas.

Whether they’re looking to satisfy one special coffee-lover in their lives or to ship small treats to a far-flung group of friends and relatives, gift-givers make the tiny Linden Hills shop a destination in December, said employee Brian Munro.

“People come with a list of relatives and what they want to give them, and we take care of everything else,” Munro said, adding that store employees are happy to help tailor orders to specific tastes.

At $59.95 per pound, full-bodied Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee may be too pricey for the daily wake-me-up, but a quarter-pound stocking stuffer is an affordable treat. A gift basket of three or four quarter- or half-pound samples that might also include some rare Guatemalan “Cup of Excellence” winners, priced $18.99–$27.99 per pound.

Munro also recommended a few favorite teas, including Golden Nepal, a medium-bodied brew similar to Darjeeling that goes for $14.99 per quarter-pound. Golden Yunnan Superior is “earthy” and “tippy” — descriptors Munro said tea lovers would recognize — and $16.99 per quarter-pound.

And while Eight Treasures of the Shaolin sounds like a ’70s kung-fu flick, it is in fact a tea filled with a variety of little treasures and only $12.75 per quarter-pound.

Coffee & Tea Ltd will ship orders around the country. Orders begin to pour in starting in early December, so stop in early, Munro suggested.

Coffee & Tea, Ltd
2730 W. 43rd St.


Toy time

One cannot underestimate the influence of nostalgia on toy purchases.

Case in point: With the children of the ’80s now raising children of their own, toys based on Jim Henson’s “Fraggle Rock” Muppets are once again appearing under Christmas trees, Creative Kidstuff manager Laura Smith said.

Good old slot cars have been riding that nostalgia wave for decades, even though many adults remember just how finicky the pint-sized electric racers could be, often losing their grip on the track after a lap or two and crash-landing spectacularly in a pile of wrapping paper. That was also part of the fun.

Slot car technology must have advanced in recent years, because the racers on the Carrera Go!!! demonstration track at Creative Kidstuff seemed firmly grounded — although they were prone to skid out if the turbo button was applied too liberally. Creative Kidstuff sells both the NASCAR set ($96), featuring a loop-the-loop, and Police Chase set ($78) with a figure-eight design sure to set up some beautiful collisions.

Younger children need softer playthings with few moving parts. The colorful two-in-one rocking horse and educational play mat from Tessell ($49.99) fits the bill.

Smith described the soft foam mat as a toy that “grows with the child,” starting as a comfortable, multi-colored play surface for the real little ones. The jigsaw-cut play mat is not only a giant puzzle, the pieces also reassemble into a sturdy rocking horse suitable for toddler-sized buckaroos.

Giddy-up, Santa!

Creative KidStuff
4313 Upton Ave. S.