Bean Factory promises good coffee and community

By Aaron Brown

In the second installment of an occasional series on coffee shops outside of the immediate Mac Bubble, I look at the J&S Bean Factory, the cozy coffee joint on Randolph within sight of Walgreen’s.

The sign outside boasts, “The best roasted beans in Minnesota!” and with good reason. At the Bean Factory, you will probably find more varieties of coffee beans than you knew existed. If you’ve got a coffee pot back in the dorm, consider buying a bag of roasted beans for the daily grind.
As for the coffee itself, J&S balances itself evenly between quality frou-frou drinks and straight up coffee. Unlike other institutions, it’s clear that J&S prioritizes high-quality beans, and that is evident in the smooth, flavorful coffee.

I would recommend trying the Miel, a latte with honey, cinnamon and a few other spices. It’s sweet enough to entice those who typically order white chocolate mochas and unique enough to win over the harsh black-coffee crowd.

Maybe the walk down an idyllic St. Paul avenue influences me, but every time I visit, I’m overwhelmed by the distinctly neighborhood feel at J&S. The people who wave to me while shoveling their snow are the same ones who bring their kids and friends to the Bean Factory to warm up on a frigid day.

The walls are covered with photos of people holding Bean Factory merchandise around the world, and the friendly atmosphere suggests that it wouldn’t be too hard to get your photo on the wall either.

Eavesdropping, I heard stories about the brother that moved to California, the outcome of little Johnny’s piano recital, and, of course, Minnesota weather.
Alas, the community feel can be a double-edged sword. I’ve found the place swamped with everyone from grandmothers to full families.

Despite great coffee, J&S is not very conducive to studying. The small size and close proximity of the tables in the back room will force you to overhear the conversations around you unless you can snag one of the few window seats in the front of the store. Focusing on a dense biology textbook could prove quite challenging. Plus, while I’ve only tried their wireless internet twice, both times the connection was shaky at best.
Some afternoon that you can’t stand the thought of homework, herd some friends down to the Bean Factory. The coffee is exemplary, the walk refreshing, and the community atmosphere friendlier than Mr. Rogers.