Read why this South Minneapolis cafe is one of our favorites in the Twin Cities.

By Aubrey Schield

It’s no secret that Twin Citians enjoy a good cup of coffee. Just look at the number of local cafes, roasters and international companies that have their roots in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Caribou Coffee got its start here in 1992. Peace Coffee has been roasting its fair trade beans at the Minneapolis roastery for 20 years. And driving through the quaint, residential neighborhoods of the area, it doesn’t take long to find a local favorite churning out carefully crafted espresso drinks, brewed coffee and homemade pastries.

One of my favorites in town is Vicinity Coffee. I sort of stumbled on the coffee shop when it went by its former name, Bull Run Coffee. I had recently moved to South Minneapolis and came upon the Lyndale Avenue location during a bike ride one day. An admitted coffee-addict, I’ve considered it my personal mission to seek out the best espresso drinks in town. For awhile I was quite hung up on the delightfully creamy cup at Spyhouse Coffee, but one visit to Vicinity (then Bull Run) made me change my allegiances completely.

Inside Vicinity Coffee's Nicollet Avenue location

Inside Vicinity’s Nicollet Avenue location in the Kingfield neighborhood.

When I go to a coffee shop, I’m not just looking for quality of the drink. I’m noticing the atmosphere, the seating, the decor and, naturally, friendliness of the baristas working behind the counter. (In high school I earned money for gas as a barista so I’m especially curious about that last one.)

Vicinity’s two locations (the second is located in the darling Kingfield neighborhood on Nicollet Avenue) offer atmospheres that, in my opinion, are crucial for a great coffee joint. First, the meet-up-with-friends and chat-over-coffee ambiance is strong at the Lyndale location. And second, Nicollet’s shop is perfect for sitting down with a handcrafted espresso beverage and from-scratch sandwich or breakfast omelet and getting some work done. Plus, on warm summer days, you can opt for a scoop of Sebastian Joe’s ice cream.

While the two differ in ambiance, the quality of their coffee doesn’t waver. Ask your barista about the various brewing options, like French press or pour over, or if you’re feeling a bit more daring, try one of the specialty lattes. These infuse housemade syrups with crowd-pleasing flavors like Nutella, cinnamon and black Hawaiian sea salt. (On my next visit to Vicinity, I will be trying the Shot in the Nutz, a creative spin on the traditional mocha.)


Inside Vicinity Coffee's Nicollet Avenue location

The Shot in the Nutz infuses Nutella with espresso and milk.

As for the beans going into your cup of Joe, they are all roasted locally in small batches to ensure freshness and, ultimately, deliciousness. The craftsmanship that goes into each drink is equally impressive; baristas steam and froth milk carefully to the perfect temperature while pulling delightfully bittersweet, creamy shots of espresso. And, like any worthy coffee bar, there’s a quaint design delicately etched in the top of the drink.

The next time you’re in the vicinity, consider stopping by one of their South Minneapolis locations. (Pardon the pun—I couldn’t resist.)

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