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Experience the Hidden: Yellow Bird Coffee House

My love of local cafés stems from a deep appreciation for the Slow Food movement. The slow food campaign focuses on how our chaotic lifestyles decrease the appreciation of the food we eat, our understanding of where our food comes from, and how food is central to our understanding of culture. Yellow Bird Coffee House, a brand-new coffee shop located in Springfield’s medical district, truly emphasizes the importance of the slow food movement and of the local community. This week, I was invited to meet with Mike Donaldson, one of the founders of the restaurant, to discuss the history of the building and sample some of their coffee.

Since locality and community are essential to the founders of Yellow Bird, they partnered with CXT Roasting company in Peoria, Ill, to create their signature blend. The coffee is small-batch roasted, which shines through in the taste. Often, the coffee is roasted the same day it is served!  The Yellow Bird blend mixes Columbian, Brazilian, and Ethiopian coffee beans, giving it a sweet, caramel-like flavor. In the future, when the full menu debuts, there will be a unique monthly blend in addition to the signature blend.

The barista, Gabi, made two drinks while I was there. One was a butter-pecan & French vanilla latté; the other was a raspberry white mocha. Both were delicious, but I particularly enjoyed the butter-pecan vanilla latte. I thought the espresso blend with those flavors brightened the drink. What makes Yellow Bird unique is the fact that they are experimenting with menu fluidity. Ingredients for their food items will incorporate items from their homestead. The next time I visit, I look forward to having a cinnamon roll made with farm-fresh eggs. There is something to be said about knowing where your food came from, it makes it feel more natural, and it feels good knowing that you are supporting a business in your local community.

Photo credit: Grace Nance
Photo credit: Grace Nance

In addition to having delicious coffee, the location itself is rich in history and charm. The Naramore House was built in 1890 as a grocery store. Mike discussed how he and Kelly are fond of historic coffee houses as opposed to the more modern style. The Naramore House was a perfect location because it could combine their love of history with coffee. To honor the store’s legacy, Mike and Kelly kept and refurbished certain original elements of the home. For example, the original ceiling and fixtures are still intact, as well as the original floors. If you look closely at the floors, you can see where the Naramore family hammered cans into the base for their displays, which is pictured to the left.

Photo credit: Grace Nance

Finally, and perhaps most charmingly, they chose to expose the original brick wall on the interior of the building. The design choices that were made keep in line with the original integrity of the building and are quite stylish. Mike and Kelly’s personalities shine through the Café. All over the walls are relics from their military service, their family’s military service, and Springfield memorabilia. The bathrooms are covered in classic rock vinyl, and the trim of the walls has a hidden fairy door. The interior is bathed with sunlight. The whole room feels warm and inviting. Mike said their intention with the coffeehouse was to be friendly, inviting, and have a sense of community. He wants to have the ambiance of the show Cheers, in which “every customer can feel like a regular.”

Overall, Yellow Bird is a beautiful addition to the coffee scene in Springfield. The café reflects the Slow Food movement and provides delicious coffee and treats. It is set for an official Valentine’s Day opening on Tues., Feb. 14, but check out their Instagram now to stay tuned for specials and pop-up events! This coffee house is the perfect place to study – it has delicious coffee, a fun ambiance, and a beautiful setting (plus complimentary Wi-Fi).

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