Snug, a marble-infused lightbox. How I’d describe The Vine to the inquiring. I switched workstations twice, from the high bar set behind the grinder and espresso machines (the magic-makers manned by the magicians themselves) to a round table by the wall, above which fern planters hung & on top of which a succulent breathed as I tapped away on Photoshop. I’m most comfortable in coffee shops relying most on natural sunlight, and The Vine receives a tick on my checklist. Now, I may be biased for this gemstone on S. Dale Mabry: I’m familiar with two of the baristas there and both are great people. On the same token, though, because I know them personally I can vouch further for the service newcomers and familiars alike receive.
I almost didn’t come here. The irrational burr of anxiety stirred up a witless & nonsensical monologue in which something not morbid at all but entirely morbid would occur. I’m learning more, though, that striking these no moods down is best accomplished simply by saying yes more often. So I bypassed my typical downtown exit and steered off 41A, trailing the bump and jerk of Dale Mabry traffic beyond Kennedy, beyond Swann, beyond Bay to Bay. The Vine is about as south as you can get without smacking into MacDill. Meshes of greenery increase and bundles of bougainvillea hang over the glary side streets and peek from underbrush spurting from the yards surrounding. At least in midday the highway is quieter in these parts (I’m sure rush hour is a different story) and once inside & perched in a seat you’ll forget traffic exists anyhow.
Much love to The Vine. They pleased my tastebuds with a gorgeous Brazil roast from Zeal smoothed with whole milk (they have almond milk too!) and enlivened with a flawless microfoam tulip. The team slings a couple breakfast sandwiches until stock runs out, and the bake case reveals snacks tempting enough to make you forget about actual food. Nutella croissants. Pumpkin doughnuts. Deep chocolate cupcakes swirled with buttercream. Check out the photos below, but before that stock your desktop with tissues so you don’t drool all over your tech.
One last leg of the journey before I hit the midday commute – a few quaint moments beneath the palm fronds on the UT side of the Hillsborough. Students lay out on towels or stretched in cloth hammocks, some studying, some socializing, a few maybe snoozing. The general Riverwalk area glows with quiet corners, whether you need to calm down with a book or reconnect with a friend or yourself to the music of water tumbling over itself to plod against concrete. I plucked a pen and my sketchpad from my pack and sketched out the view in largely-slapdash detail. The little wildflowers poking beside my feet received the most of my attention. They bore no leaves and the petals themselves faded from pale yellow to the lightest of cerise. In the penstrokes I received a rare calm. 30 minutes hitched a ride on a passing float and disappeared beneath the bridge. The simplest, most serendipitous post-social aloneness, the gentlest of background noise.
1. The Vine Baking Co., 3201 S. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33629
If you’re looking to work on a computer or tablet, the wall seats & counters facing the windows are armed with outlets for your chargers, and the wifi is quick and secure. The baking area is open to view so you can spot workers folding croissant dough in the moment. You can special order cakes through their website and bulk amounts of their pastries. Try their rose or lavender syrups for a floral tinge to your morning espresso beverages.
The 2.4-mile Riverwalk has multiple starting and ending points, so you can pick up any part of the trail and create your own path. Here is a map of parking and the route. The River Fest occurs over two days in May and the schedule plays host to vendors & entertainment, and all of it benefits varying charities.
Day 70 // Thump Colombia Reserve & Coffee Mate Mocha Almond Fudge
Day 73 // Soy cappuccino @ Foundation Coffee Co. Tampa Heights
Day 75 // TeBella White Coconut Dolce tea + honey. Cheating on coffee.
Day 80 // Soy cappuccino @ Buddy Brew
Day 84 // Thump Colombia Reserve + ID White Mocha + peppermint extract
// Not sponsored. All opinions are my own.