Alibi V.27 No.5 • Feb 1-7, 2018 

Restaurant Review

Better Mornings with Coffee and Yoga

Helix offers yoga, friendly vibe, tasty coffee

S’mores latte
S’mores latte
Eric Williams Photography

One of the owners of Helix Coffee House & Yoga Studio is behind the cash register when I first walk in—the other is sitting in the dining room, working at a laptop and eating her homemade lunch out of a plastic container. They both greet me with big smiles. Besides us three, there’s nobody else in the place.

The married couple that owns Helix, Vincent and Kristen La Volpa, opened it in June 2017 after successfully starting up and operating the Green Joe Coffee Truck. The coffee shop (3612 Campus Blvd. NE) is a bit inconspicuous in the Nob Hill area since it’s off Central and inside a small house, but its position just a block away from Tia B’s La Waffleria helps it gain some foot traffic. Walking by is the primary way people discover coffee shops, Vincent tells me the first time I visit. There are start-up and small business how-to books scattered throughout the shop, and it’s clear that the couple has sunk plenty of hours of research into making this venture work.

The primary way that Helix differs from other coffee shops in the area is, of course, the fact that they host regular yoga classes. There are a few classes every day (their schedule is available at helixcoffeeyoga.com/schedule), all of which cost $5 to drop in. The classes are for all levels of yoga experience, according to their website, and vary from Vinyasa flow to mommy and baby yoga. The caveat is that the classroom is quite small: Only six people can fit in each class, so you have to get there early to have a chance of getting in. However, if you like the idea of a cheap morning yoga class immediately followed by a cappuccino as much as I do, it’s well worth the effort.

So, get to the part about the coffee already, right? The coffee menu at Helix is extensive and well-illustrated, which is helpful for those of us who don’t know the difference between a macchiato and an americano off-hand. When I asked for a cappuccino ($3.25), Vincent asked if I wanted it wet or dry, and happily explained the difference between the two when I stared back at him blankly (a dry cappuccino is all foam and espresso, wet means it has foam and milk in the mix). He quickly whipped up a dry cappuccino for me while we chatted about the business, and then he taped a little mint to my coffee cup as he served it up—“so you’re not rocking coffee breath all day,” he said. Pretty thoughtful, no? I discovered that I quite like a dry cappuccino: The bitterness of the espresso has just enough of a buffer with the foam on top for me to enjoy it. There’s also, notably, a custom drink on the menu called the “Holly Holm.” I’ll be back for that one.

I also picked up a locally made raspberry lemon empanada ($3) from Fat City Confections & Baked Goods that, despite being in a plastic wrapper, tasted fresh, like it had just been baked that morning. It was made with puff pastry (which, I suppose, puts it more in mini pie territory) and was perfectly buttery and gooey when warmed up. More of those, please.

Additionally, Helix serves smoothies from Green Growler Smoothies ($5 for a 12 oz bottle), a local health-forward smoothie maker from whom you can purchase fresh smoothies in, yes, growlers. They also make a few sandwiches in-house, all of which are pretty convenient grab-and-go situations should you be on the run. The breakfast sandwich ($2.50) consists of egg, avocado, tomato and cheddar cheese on an English muffin: simple fare, but tasty.

The crowd that Helix is aiming to draw is the work-from-home parent type: There’s a playroom filled with toys for babies and toddlers right by the yoga studio and within earshot of the seating area. Although I don’t have any spawn myself, I could see the convenience of being able to park your child somewhere they’re safe and entertained while you type up a grant proposal or have a coffee date with your local mom gang.

Tomorrow morning I’ll head to Helix’s community yoga class: a free class that’s mainly an opportunity for new yoga teachers to practice their curriculum. Since I live in the area, I’m pleased about Helix mainly because it means I have an affordable yoga studio in walking distance from home. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have good coffee and some friendly people running the place. Those things will likely keep me coming back in the long run.

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Helix Coffee House & Yoga Studio

3612 Campus Blvd NE