Hartford Highlights: The Jumping Frog and Story and Soil Coffee

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Being a typical literature major, I am a sucker for bookstores and quiet coffee shops. In the vicinity of my college in Washington D.C. there is no shortage of either one of these things (some of the places I frequent are Little Red Fox and Politics and Prose). However, in Connecticut the options are more limited. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been making it my mission to find some new favorites in the area.

Luckily, I didn’t have to look far. Both roughly 10 minutes from my house, one town over in Hartford, The Jumping Frog used bookstore and the aesthetically pleasing, city worthy coffee shop: Story and Soil, pack a real punch.

Located at 387 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT 06105, Story and Soil is a multi-roaster specialty coffee shop in the bustling heart of Frog Hallow. This destination opened for business in the summer of 2017, but it has quickly gained a loyal customer base and acclaim within the area.

Some of the appeal of the shop, based on what I saw in my visit, is the accommodating and positive staff, its beautiful, Instagram-worthy decor, geared toward young people, and the quiet, comfortable environment. There is a surprisingly good amount of seating for the size of the space both inside and outdoors. They also equip the seating areas with books and magazines to browse. I picked up a copy of The Paris Review to flip through as I sipped my iced latte.

The menu for Story and Soil impressed me as well. They have the classic staples of any good coffee shop: cold brew, cappuccino, espresso, latte, americano, but they also have specials like coffee three ways, kombucha, The Matcha Thai Tea, The Freetown (espresso, blood orange, vanilla, milk, and sparkling water), and Seasonal Iced Latte (blackberry caramel). Besides the drinks, they offer small bites like bagels, avocado toast (which they comically title “rent money”), and two different types of acai bowls topped with granola and fruit. The coffee ranges from $2.50 to $6 and the food ranges in price from $1.50 to $10. More information can be found on their website: https://www.storyandsoilcoffee.com/.

Just a bit down the road, within the Real Art Ways building at 56 Arbor St Ste 107, Hartford, CT 06106, The Jumping Frog is a charming used bookstore filled with rare and out of print books, magazines, paintings/drawings, and other ephemera. The store gets its name from Mark Twain’s classic short story by the same title. I found many of the books to be priced at $10 or lower (some exceptions included the rare books and signed books).

If you are looking for a place with a lot of history and character and are willing to take some time to search, I would recommend The Jumping Frog highly. They have books on all subjects, loosely categorized (examples: history, music, poetry, architecture, cooking).

When I visited, I wandered around with my friend Abbie for about an hour, taking everything in. I ended up purchasing a signed poetry collection for $10 from an author I’d never heard of. I saw works by recognizable authors like Mark Twain and Harper Lee, and some notable series like Nancy Drew and Pretty Little Liars, but overall, the books were much more eclectic and lesser-known. To read more about The Jumping Frog, visit their website: http://www.thejumpingfrog.com/.

If you have a free afternoon to spend and are in the Hartford area, these attractions will keep you well-fed, awake, and entertained!

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