A bright yellow door ushers me into a space reminiscent of a cozy, old-fashioned schoolhouse. With its raw wood paneling, sleek white bricks, black chalkboards, and airy vaulted ceiling, the atmosphere holds an innate sentimentality. Perhaps it’s the polished, mustard colored coffee mugs or the bright turquoise globes, but the colors and textures of Yellowbird Coffee Bar play brilliantly with each other. The soothing smell of coffee beans completes the ambiance, and, even though I am miles from my own stomping ground, I feel right at home.
On July 24, St. Paul’s Lex-Ham (Lexington-Hamline) neighborhood welcomed Yellowbird Coffee Bar to their community. The shop is a testament to the power of genuine connections and a community’s dedication to supporting their neighbors—and it shows.
The idea for this new addition to the Selby Avenue family came to life when John and Suzette Peterson, longtime residents of Lex-Ham, realized that their community was lacking something.
“When we first moved to the neighborhood, we were chatting on our front porch and tossed out the idea of starting a coffee shop, a place that could be a neighborhood hub, a place to gather,” says John.
Now, 16 years and many community brainstorming sessions later, Lex-Ham finally has that space. But Yellowbird wasn’t a solo project. As the Petersons say, it was truly a “neighborhood adventure.” From Suzette’s hairdresser who recommended that they move into the building next door, to their interior designer and architect that live just down the street, even to the name of the coffee bar itself, Yellowbird was locally sourced from the beginning.
In the final days of his father’s life, a little yellow bird appeared to John and his siblings—a symbol of comfort, warmth, and love in a time of grief. In the months following, while the Petersons were toying with the idea of opening a coffee bar, the yellow bird kept fluttering back into their lives. When the name “yellowbird” was proposed during a collaborative planning meeting, their neighbors were touched by the unique and personal meaning. “Yellowbird” serves as a reminder that this is more than just a coffee bar; it’s a gathering space—a second home of sorts—for friends, family, and neighbors.
Always supportive of local collaborations, Yellowbird loves to stock Minnesota-based brands, especially from businesses within their own community. St. Paul’s True Stone Coffee Roaster provides their finest coffee beans, ethically sourced from only the best small farms. For all their baked goods, Yellowbird partners with their neighbor, PJ Murphy’s Bakery, a St. Paul staple for over 80 years. Atiki’s Flight Catering, another Selby Avenue local, shares their delectable, world-traveled soups with the coffee bar. Kapper’s Big Red Barn delivers milk in glass bottles and rich ice cream straight from their farm in Chatfield, MN.
Reflective of this local flair, Yellowbird’s menu is filled with unique flavors, offering a wide range of hot and cold espresso drinks, drip coffee, tea, sandwiches, soup, and pastries. A refreshingly moist banana chip muffin or a delectable chocolate croissant pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.
For the casual coffee drinker, The Hamline coffee drink is a local favorite, as a light, flowery, and perfectly balanced blend of lavender, honey, milk, and espresso. For a classic, smooth, and warm turtle flavor, try The Lex. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, order The Yellowbird, their signature bold espresso drink; a rich scoop of Big Red Barn ice cream adds a sugary boost to the sharp flavor of the coffee. For the experienced espresso enthusiast, Yellowbird’s shots are full bodied and wonderfully vibrant.
Whether Yellowbird is steps from your front door or a stop you make while you’re visiting the area, this neighborhood coffee hangout will welcome you with warm smiles and cheerful chatter. So, grab a golden mug and take a seat at the bar. You might just see a little yellow bird hovering outside the window, reminding you that home is where the heart (and the coffee) is.
yellowbird coffee bar
1168 Selby Ave
St. Paul, MN