A Sunday at Mill No. 5


Mahi Kandage, Sports Editor

Though we generally perceive the Lowell Mills to be the home of outdated machinery, used only for fifth grade field trips, my trip to Mill No. 5 shows me it is the hidden gem of Lowell.

On the fourth floor of Mill No. 5 on Jackson Street, one of the historic Lowell Mills which were the heart of women’s labor in the early 1800s. Though the mills were dark, loud places of harsh labor back then, Mill No. 5 is now a beautifully quaint and rustic brick building, home to a coffee shop, Luna Theater, and several unique shops.

The shops in the mill are open Thursday through Sunday, but Sunday afternoons are the best time to visit. The mill is filled with live music, a fresh farmer’s market, and lots of food. Though the mill is rather crowded at this hour, it only brings character and liveliness to the scene. 

Stands with local farmers and craftsmen line the narrow halls of the mill, selling everything from fresh mushrooms and tomatoes to jams and granola. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised to see an old-fashioned apothecary shop, filled with herbs, spices and soaps, as well as other vintage stores for vinyls, clothing, and photography.

The Luna Theater is one of the highlights of the mill, featuring intense, one-of-a-kind films that you wouldn’t typically see at your average AMC or Showcase theater. Regular events at Luna include Magical Mystery Movie Club, a surprise Sunday morning film for families, and Weirdo Wednesdays, a night of Cult Cinema. Each production gives the audience a quality film in a fun, vintage setting.

If you’ve seen a lot of photos on Instagram of brick walls, coffee, and pretty hanging lights, chance are, they were taken at Coffee and Cotton, a main attraction at Mill No. 5. The sunny air and the warm smell of baked goods and rich coffee invites visitors inside from down the hall.

Inside, the setting is warm, wood-paneled, and homey. Little nooks offer more private, dimly-lit eating tables, while the seating areas out in the open are full of light. The baristas are particularly friendly, and ordering (at the counter) is a stress-free experience.

The food options are, however, rather limited. Several kinds of sandwiches are made to order, along with a few fresh-baked goods, but the extensive beverage menu is typically what draws visitors who prefer to study or read in a nook with a cup of hot coffee.

Along with a wide variety of coffees, the cafe also offers tea, juices, and Kombucha, fresh from the tap. The coffee is definitely the best item on the menu, rich and creamy. I found the sandwiches to be decent at best, definitely not living up to the expectations set by the wonderful location. The baked goods looked appetizing from the display case, but the caramel brownie was too large, cold, dense, and nearly rock hard — not even close to worth the $3.50 charged for it.

The food can be on the pricier side in terms of cafe food but is still very affordable, and the experience of enjoying a meal in such a comforting environment is worth it.

I would give Mill No. 5 8/10 for the refreshingly uncommon style of the shops and the merry crowd full of some of the most intriguing people around, rather than the food at Coffee and Cotton.