6.5 miles from downtown Durham, “Major” the bull
4711-5A Hope Valley Rd., Durham 27707
Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30AM to 6PM, Sat 7AM to 6PM, Sun 7:30AM to 6PM
The Vibe: Professional, polite and casual
Monday, January 13, 2020 @ 2:39PM
11 people here; sparsely populated. Folks quietly doing their own thing; mostly on their computers. Very quiet; no one is talking. Only sound is the music in the background and the clink and clank of cups and saucers, coffee presses and steamers. It’s sleepy (but a sleepy day out as well – rainy, dark, and warm). The music is all from BADBADNOTGOOD, a jazz fusion improvisational group. After 4 PM the vibe changes as an influx of high school kids and post work adults fills the café. The music also changes to Fritz & The Tantrums, Post Malone, and similar, more up-beat tunes.
Friday, March 14, 2019 @ 8:30 AM
I’m here to pick up some beans as I ran out at the house. It’s a sunny day and Joe Van Gogh Woodcroft is perky. People in casual dress, here for a pre-work conversation and coffee, some folks are getting some actual work done, sitting alone with their lap tops, getting a bite to eat.
Since I was here last in early December, there’s been a small renovation made to the café. The area to the left of the cashier (which used to have a cold drink and packaged snacks display) has been walled-off to create storage space behind it. It doesn’t change the dynamics of the shop at all, however, as this space wasn’t well utilized before.
This Joe Van Gogh (there are three of them in Durham) is located in the Woodcroft Shopping Center. Woodcroft is a residential area of southern Durham not too far from Southpoint Mall. (Of the other two Joe Van Gogh’s in town, one close to Duke’s East Campus, and the other is on the edge of downtown, close to Duke’s West Campus and the Nasher Museum). When I was here in December, Ben Rector, Mat Kearny, The Lumineers and other pop indie, Americana folk artists were playing. The music is clean and pure, two qualities that characterize this coffee house. This morning music is mellow, acoustic, covers. Dreams (piano version) by Lissie, Stolen Dance by Twin Bandit & Joshua Hyslop, and Candle In The Wind by Ed Sheeran is playing lightly in the background.
The shop has an open, studio- or loft-like feel – it’s an uncluttered room colored in cool blues, grays and white. There’s a little bit of artwork on one wall – and this time of year, holiday decorations on all walls. Two sections of large glass windows that provide natural light. Twelve or so small, two-seat tables take up most of the floor space. There are also individual stools at the coffee bar and along the windows, with another 4 or so two-tops outside.
There Own Beans (and Food)
Part of JVG’s appeal is that they roast their own beans. JVG Woodcroft features a wide selection of coffee to choose from. And you can purchase by the pound (as was the reason that brought me there today). This location also offers an assortment of pastries, muffins, and scones (prepared in their own bakery). A light food menu includes avocado toast and almond butter toast, biscuits (with ham and cheddar, or jam, or the everything biscuit–add an egg to any for $1), fresh fruit parfaits, and a seasonal salad special. On weekends, this cafe serves special brunch-ish options, such as a sweet potato hash and a biscuit and gravy special made with housemade coffee-infused sausage gravy or coffee-infused caramelized onion gravy.
By the time I leave, at 9:15, most of the conversation has died down. Those who had to get to work are there by now. Those patrons left are mostly solo-preneurs or work-from-homes focused on their tasks. There’s a good crowd of about 20 people. The shop’s probably 1/2 full, and there’s been steady traffic of one or two people at a time.
Even with the crowd, it’s relatively quiet. Most people are heads-down, working on their computers individually or in groups, a couple tables have been pushed together. Even with the music playing, it feels a bit like a library, if such a thing existed as a coffee shop.
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