Annie Gurvis ’15 is on a mission. For her independent study this semester she has decided to create a website, specifically a website for urban-minded Macalester students wanting to engage in the Twin Cities, and she has succeeded in doing just that. Her site is called venturetwincities.weebly.com.
The following are excerpts from her website’s “About” section and her thoughts on one of the cafés she visited.
I realized in thinking about my minimal exploration of the Twin Cities that maybe part of the reason I didn’t leave campus much was because I didn’t know what there was to see. Sure, I knew how to get to the Mall of America on public transit, down to the river by bike or into downtown Minneapolis for a night out, but I had no idea what else there was to see and do. And I’d venture a guess that a number of Mac students feel similarly—it can be hard to get to know a place without locals’ tips or a guide book.
You’ll see this website grow as the 2014-15 academic year progresses—I’m developing this site as a independent project under the guidance of Professor David Lanegran. I’ll be visiting sites myself, and also asking for suggestions and reviews from other Macalester students, professors and local residents. And hopefully when the website is further along, it will be used as a resource for those who want to get out of the Mac Bubble… even if it’s just for a few hours.”
The summer after my junior year of college, I spent some time thinking about how I could make my senior year special. One of my most memorable courses has been Urban Geography, a course I took in junior year with Geography department legend, Professor David Lanegran. A well-known name in the field and an expert on Minnesota geography and history, Professor Lanegran’s course requires that students walk, bike, transit or drive about 50 miles of the Twin Cities, answering questions about the structure, design, history and environment of different parts of the city as they go. Biking and driving from North Minneapolis to downtown Saint Paul, I easily saw more of the Cities in that semester than the rest of my college career combined. So that’s what I’m setting out to create. A student-focused guide to the Twin Cities, created especially for the Macalester community.
In one of her many posts Annie features Kopplin’s, a cafe in Saint Paul.
Kopplin’s 2038 Marshall Ave., Saint Paul
Weekdays: 6 am – 8 pm, Weekends: 7 am – 8 pm
Transit: Take the 63b west to Cretin and Marshall and then walk east
Travel Time: About 16 minutes by bus, 8 by bike, or 28 minutes walking
Kopplin’s has a wonderful atmosphere. Green walls, wood floors and red cushioned chairs give the coffee shop a calm vibe, and a corner window filled with plants makes the whole place more comfortable. Walking in on a Saturday afternoon, I was surrounded by couples of all ages, parents with kids and large groups of friends—Kopplin’s is clearly a neighborhood favorite, and the employees’ friendly, easy-going manner as they joke with children or greet regulars only enhances the positive feeling I noticed when I walked in the door.
While the whole place is lovely, I was surprised by how much I liked the food and drinks. I’m not a huge coffee drinker, so while I try on this website to have others taste things (like coffee and meat) that I stay away from, I spent most of my afternoon at Kopplin’s alone with my senior capstone. The employees are happy to give you the wifi password if you ask.
To keep myself on task (and as a reward for doing homework on a Saturday so early in the semester), I bought a pecan roll and house hot chocolate. I can’t speak to how the pastry or drink were made, but they were both pretty special. The roll was sticky sweet, with a caramel glaze on top and hints of cinnamon throughout. Sure, my hands were covered with sugar by the end, but I would go back for the pecan roll alone. The hot chocolate was geared towards adults, less artificially sweet than authentically cocoa. It was served in a deep ceramic cup, a nice change from the paper cups at too many coffee shops.
I sat by the big front window facing Marshall St., where families sat with their dogs at outdoor tables sipping coffees or licking ice cream cones from nearby Izzy’s Ice Cream. Tucked into that corner was a wide assortment of potted plants that were a nice distraction from the writing I had to get done, as was the little girl dressed in a ladybug costume who arrived with her father for a to go coffee. Kopplin’s has the air of being comfortable and classy, and has the best pastries and drinks of any coffee shop I’ve visited in the Twin Cities, and I’m sure I’ll be back to get more work done soon.
Editor’s note: This probably won’t be an issue as we move into the winter months, but as temperatures rise and fall, be sure to dress a little more warmly if you plan to sit by a window —the glass lets in just a bit of cold air. Luckily one of my housemates was on her way to meet me and brought me a pair of warm socks, otherwise I might have left earlier than I did.