Never underestimate the importance of a coffee shop of one’s own.
When I moved to Northeast Minneapolis, winter was coming. I didn’t know a soul, and was at home with a challenging one-year-old. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that a local coffee shop saved my life. I got to know the baristas and made my first friends. There were toys my son could occupy himself with while I downed coffee to counteract whatever sleep he’d deprived me of the night before. But as he got bigger, and his brother arrived, the coffee shop stayed petite, even when it changed hands and morphed into The Coffee Shop Northeast with its expanded menu of hot and cold food. It was a good place to go on our own, but a little too small to meet friends.
Last year, though, sister-owners Jodi and Jenni Lund renovated the space behind the store, formerly occupied by EMI music. Suddenly the tiny shop wasn’t tiny anymore. Same friendly owners and baristas willing to make a drink your way, but now with a big back room, where headphoned, jacked-in loners could coexist peacefully with writers groups, friends-with-coffee, and parents with kids young and old.
On a recent school holiday, I took my two boys, now nine and six, up to the coffee shop. We brought the bag of Quirkle blocks and played on the communal table in the back as they downed kiddie cocoas and I sipped my drink, a shot of espresso with roughly the same amount of steamed whole milk (similar to a Third-Wave macchiato, or cortado). Neighbors and friends joined us, observing the game and chatting before we all went our separate ways.
I loved the old, cozy coffee shop. But the big back room has made The Coffee Shop Northeast even more of a neighborhood refuge, destination, and gathering place.
The Coffee Shop Northeast
2852A Johnson St. NE
Open: 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.