Saturday, September 29, 2007

Family Coffee Date: J&S Bean Factory at Hamline and Thomas

We love our coffee shops. We used to love spending whole evenings lounging around in them, reading aloud to each other, staring deeply into eachothers' eyes, working on our own quiet projects, critiquing the art, bantering with the baristas. Ah, the happy golden days! Well, we still care about good coffee, independent ownership (we're not really herd animals, if you know what I mean), and good atmosphere.

But now child and baby-friendly bathrooms are a veritable necessity, along with toys or really fun outdoor seating. When we have the luxury; nay, the scarce but necessary time for coffee-shoppin', we look for a place Paul and I can talk (and enjoy ourselves; ixnay on the acDonald'sMay unParkFay) where the kids will have fun too. J&S Bean Factory Makes the Cut.
Things we like about J&S Hamline and Thomas: (different from their Randolph Avenue sister store, which Paul can tell you is good for high school kids in the early morning, but not so much for wee lil 'babes)
-Good toy area!
-Bathroom is closeby, with diaper changing station
-consistently good coffee, okay baked goods rockin' awesome sandwiches and soups from Acme and Xanders'
-right next to a great knitting shop (okay, only Libby cares about that, but in the knitting shop, there is a nice lil' ramp between the front and back rooms, which the kids love to crawl up and down. The shop's staff are indulgent of this wildness.)
-breastfeeding friendly environment
-real art on the walls, that actually changes every so often
-friendly, chatty baristas
-some outdoor seating
-accessible via bus: the 67 runs within two blocks and the 16 within four blocks
-accessible via bike: great bike rack (it's hidden!) and bike paths run on Minnehaha, two blocks away

Ezra loves to crawl on chairs, especially if Gib is already on them.

We're not so much into:
-not much privacy (we have a penchant for secluded nooks)
-the kids' area is a tad dim, and doesn't always have outlet covers, though outlets are covered by toys
-the kids' books are mostly lame-o, not that our kids have noticed
-If there's already someone in the play area, like, say, a parent's group or someone else's play date, it doesn't work so well, but this would be true anywhere
-there's not much not to like; we've been hitting this one a fair bit lately!
This is a "city" we built. We used every last one of these great blocks. Most of the toys at J&S are good ones, like these, that we can really play with. The key with blocks is having enough of them that you can really build something fun. J&S does. That's a score for us, as when the kids are playing happily, we can read, talk, and think deeply. When Mama and Papa are happy and get good time with each other, it rubs off on the kids and they're happier too.
Of course, we also do a fair amount of playing too. By the by, do you see that little tower Ezra started there? He can stack four blocks! Gibbs did this particular big big big one all on his own! That's his hand about to place the next story.


amanda said...

mmmmmm . . . coffee . . . I would love to find a coffee shop with a play area around here. Looks like fun :) Maybe I should try to find one.

Dan said...

Just so you know, JS Bean Factory has a website now!