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Boiler Room Coffee (Coffeeshop #1)

Boiler Room is located in the basement – sorry, garden view level – of The Castleton, a red-brick, pre-war apartment building in Stevens Square in Minneapolis.

(I know this building well. Nearly thirty years ago, an old friend used to live in an apartment just through the ceiling and across the hall from where I’m sitting right now. Nearly all the songs I wrote or co-wrote with him during the four years he lived there were recorded in that apartment on his Yamaha cassette 4-track as we hunched over our SM-58s. I was so much older then…)

The coffeeshop is very comfortable, and larger than it looks at first. A scattering of tables; several booths at one end, couches and an Ikea shelf packed with books and board games at the other. Dispite seeming almost empty, with a weekday siesta vibe, I gradually noticed there was a constant flow of people getting to-go orders. Boiler Room may roast their own coffee, and if so, they know what they’re doing. Their house blend was smooth, rich, and sweet.

Okay. Since this is the first of what I hope will be many posts about coffee and coffeeshops, I need to mention a few things.

First, I am absolutely not a coffee snob. I will happily drink any kind of coffee, from single-estate pour-over to truck-stop robusta. I can obviously taste the difference; I let my surroundings inform my palate. How we define something is always a matter of context. My at-home morning coffee has been exactly the same for nearly eighteen years, but if I’m out somewhere and they serve coffee, I’ll drink it, whatever it is — usually black, but sometimes light & sweet. Dark roast, light roast. Whatever.

Second, if I stop in at a place that I really dislike, you’re probably not going to hear much about it. A nice place with meh coffee is one thing, but if it’s a deeply inhospitable or uncomfortable space, I probably won’t waste my words or your reading time on it. Life is too short for that kind of negative shit. This is just a blog, this isn’t Yelp. Besides, I think there’s something much more compelling about hearing someone’s positive impression of something you may dislike, than hearing someone’s negative impression of something you like.

And third, I have no intention of trying to visit a different place every day for a month or anything like that, so please temper your disappointment when there isn’t another coffee post tomorrow.

All right then.

Here are some pictures, and I’ll be back with another coffeeshop visit soon, hopefully with a lot more coffeeshop and a lot less meta.


exterior of the coffeeshop; red-brick building, sidewalk


coffee mug on table; small sign on the wall, thanking people for choosing Boiler Room as their local cafe, and to try to limit their time at a table or to share with other guests when there are no other seats available


long counter, bar stools


booths with paisley pattern upholstry; counter in the background, couch at the far end of the space

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