Do you believe in love at first sight? Can you fall in love with a coffee shop?
I hope so, because I have a new coffee shop love: The Bridge Cafe in Upland, Indiana, about an hour between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, right there on State Road 22. It’s just a few minutes north of Taylor University, the small private Christian college in Grant County. It’s about 30 minutes away from where I grew up in Muncie, Indiana.
I returned to Indiana for a small speaking tour, visiting Evansville (and Honey Moon Coffee), Indianapolis (Hubbard & Cravens), Muncie (The Cup), and now Upland and this place.
I believe a man or woman can have many loves in their life, at least when it comes to coffee shops. I love Hubbard & Cravens because it’s where I first learned about the coffee culture. I love Vespr coffee because the baristas have become friends. I love Bee Coffee Roasters because I’m convinced BJ Davis knows more about coffee than anyone in Indianapolis.
And now I love The Bridge Cafe because it’s a small shop in a small town that is quintessentially Indiana. I grew up in Indiana, it’s where my heart lies, and I am pulled northward every couple years to visit and recharge.
I found the place on a quintessentially Indiana spring day — it’s gray and a bit rainy, the wind is blowing from the west — and I’m flooded with waves of nostalgia. I had breakfast here, and when I had a few free hours in the day, I came back to sit and soak in it.
The coffee is great, and I’m on my second latte. They serve tea, pastries, and even breakfast and lunch. I met Cathy, the owner, and we talked social media marketing for a little while, and how they’re attracting college students by Instagramming photos of their food, and they sell care packages to Taylor students during finals week, or sharing photos of their play area on Pinterest to bring in the moms with young kids.
Upland is most known for Ivanhoe’s Drive-In, an Indiana landmark when it comes to ice cream, milkshakes, and sundaes. The Bridge is within walking distance of Ivanhoe’s, and it’s about 5 minutes from I-69.
Look, I know there’s a Starbucks right off the Interstate, but if you want some good coffee and want to support an independent coffee shop, take just five minutes — five minutes! — on your next road trip to come over here. Take exit 259, and turn east. Follow the road around the curve, and keep an eye out for The Bridge Cafe, next to the McClure’s gas station. It’s literally five minutes away.
When you’re trying to make good time, focus more on the good than on the time, and swing by The Bridge Cafe for some of the best coffee in this little corner of the world.