Twin Cities Leather and Latte
By: Sylvia Rani
There aren’t many places where you can purchase a French press coffee alongside a ball gag. At Twin Cities Leather and Latte, however, it’s an everyday occurrence. The full-service cafe and kink retail shop has been growing since 2012, beginning as a tiny store in a basement and eventually becoming a gathering space where members of the BDSM community can hang out, drink coffee, and network. Known for their durable Minneapolis-made harnesses, Twin Cities Leather and Latte offers customers a cafe experience within a kink shop.
My friend and I decided to visit the store on Valentine’s day. We were unsure of what to expect. Would there be dildos lining the walls? Would we fit in with the leather crowd? Would the store be packed with frantic kinksters, buying last-minute V-day toys for their lovers?
All of our assumptions ended up being wrong. Upon entering, we were greeted by upbeat pop music and a friendly barista. People of varying gender expressions sat in the cafe area, sipping frothy lattes and reading or working. A rainbow flag hung proudly on the window. The message boards were covered in different flyers advertising local events for the BDSM and LGBTQ community, the store’s main clientele.
Past the cafe near the back of the store, the leather shop offered a wide variety of heavy-duty power play items. Harnesses, whips, and leather crops hung on the wire racks, and photos of the merchandise in use covered the walls. Something that stood out to me was the body diversity of the models, an act of inclusivity which is often unseen in retail. The store aims to make their leather items work for everyone, and, as such, their harnesses are made-to-measurement. Customization options are extensive; clients can choose everything down to the stitch color of their harness. Leather and Latte also boasts a wide variety of puppy play equipment, a subset of the leather kink. I tried on a black neoprene dog mask, and another customer told me I looked good in it, which instantly made me feel ten times cooler.
“Our motto here is ‘community first,’ so every single action we take with this business—every person we take on staff, every new group we invite in, and any decisions we make—are with the goal of community first in mind,” said Kurt Patton, a barista and sales associate. “We are very dedicated to making sure that our community has a safe space in Minneapolis and a place to thrive.” The employees at Leather and Latte seem to truly enjoy what they are doing, which is what makes the store so much than a sex shop. Want to see for yourself what it’s all about? Step into their cozy location on Hennepin. You’re *bound* to find something.