A Neighborly Cup of Coffee

When I first started going to the Vicinity Coffee location at 3350 Lyndale Avenue South, it was not Vicinity Coffee.  It was actually CRC Coffee Bar (CRC standing for Cars-R-Coffins) which was a coffee bar/bike repair shop. When this place closed its doors in March 2011, I was a sad girl. Not only because the coffee was good, but because I loved the atmosphere and the people running the show. It was solid. CRC is still very active in the Twin Cities bike scene, so please check out Hurl Everstone’s website/blog! The side of the building still sports a cool mural from it’s CRC days. img_3853

CRC moved out and in moved Bull Run Coffee Bar serving Bull Run Roasting Company coffee (two separate companies, though the coffee shops did expand from the roaster).

One week this summer I drove by and it was Bull Run, the next week I drove by and it was Vicinity Coffee.  img_3865My immediate reaction was, “HOLD THE PHONE!” My son and I had been meeting a friend once or twice a month at the Bull Run for coffee and Jenga for years, and I was not ok with losing these moments. (I mean, look at that face!) I found parking, went inside… and everything was the same. Staff, decor, menu. So once my distress abated, I asked the fella behind the counter what was going on.  He simply said, “Not much, we just changed the name.” Umm… ok, cool…

Turns out the gossip on the streets was more scandalous than what I later read in MlpsStPaul Magazine. Most talked about how the brothers, mutual owners, had a falling out and decided to split the company and go their separate ways. But according to the article, Bull Run Coffee Bar and Bull Run Roasting Company were already doing separate business and the name was simply changed to help with confusion. Here is a note from the actual Vicinity website. Less saucy, but honestly, I don’t care. I just like the place and glad to see it’s the same for the most part.


The space is open, with lots of seating, which is good because I’ve rarely been there when it hadn’t been packed with people. There is more space off the main coffee bar with extra seating (this is the space where CRC use to actually be before the Bull Run/Vicinity expanded). We are usually fortunate enough to find a space in the back area where we can play Jenga, chit chat and enjoy our drinks without causing too much ruckus. But if it’s a slow-ish Sunday morning we play in the front room.

I almost always get the Boone’s Beard (house made vanilla, coriander, Black Hawaiian Sea Salt, espresso, milk) or the Shot in the Nutz (Nutella, cocoa, espresso, milk). I have also tried the Teddy Bear (local honey, cinnamon, graham cracker crumbles, espresso, milk).  But the Boone’s Beard is by far my favorite. It’s the sweet and salty that do it for me.  ❤

I thought given the history of the building’s occupants and the rumor mill that surrounded then name change, it would be fun to pair Vicinity Coffee with The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.  Do we ever really know the people we live next door to? img_3796

This book was a ride! It starts with a couple, Anne and Marco, going to the neighbor’s home for a party while their infant daughter, Cora, is left home sleeping. The night ends with a missing baby, distraught parents, overbearing in-laws, and police officers who feel they all know more than they are letting on.

The title threw me. I spent the first several chapters of the book thinking, “Why haven’t they questioned the neighbors yet!?” Given the title, I automatically had it in my head that they were guilty. There are actually several moments throughout the book where I’m questioning the character’s choices or wondering why the police are seemingly ignoring something that seems important.  But even in the frustration, I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

This book is full of unlikable characters which I feel helps the story.  I went back and forth with liking Anne and Marco. Though I did feel awful for Anne since she seemed to be very clueless about the people she chose to trust in life.  Marco was tough for me. I wanted to like him, but he didn’t always make it easy.  He was a desperate man who just became more desperate as the book went on.

The last chapter, though…. Holy Buckets!!! I would recommend this book simply for the last chapter.  When I started reading it I was thinking, “No….no… nooooooo. What is happening and why are there only five pages left to explain this to me!” UGH! I still think about that chapter. It was brilliant with a side of WTF! So…. yea, I liked the ending.

I love a good story, and while the Vicinity Coffee name change turned out to be something simple (and not nearly has heart-poundingly crazy as Anne and Marco’s tale), it was still fun to hear all the different versions of what happened. But again, as long as we can get a table, the Jenga set, some Boone’s Beard, I really don’t care why the name changed!  I’m mostly excited we are able to continue our little tradition there and that all my favorite coffees are still around. ❤

Vicinity Coffee ✰✰✰✰

GoodReads – The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena ✰✰✰✰


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