As a self-proclaimed coffee addict, I recently decided to go on a quest to find the best local coffee shops in every corner of Grand Rapids – from downtown, up through Cascade and down to the southwest side of town.
While the list of wonderful coffee establishments in Grand Rapids is quite robust, this blog highlights some of the best hole-in-the-wall coffee places that are either new to the coffee scene, or tucked away in areas of town that are less ventured (I tend to call these the best kept secrets of GR).
Today, I challenge you to join me on the quest for local coffee- continue to support your local favorites near work or home, and while you are out and about, break up the routine, pass on that Starbucks and go someplace with a local flair.
Jam N Bean Coffee, LLC – http://www.jamnbean.com/
Jam N Bean, nestled in the heart of Cascade near Old 28th Street, is heaven among coffee enthusiasts, offering on-demand coffee roasting in-house and a cozy coffee house vibe. Well-known in the Cascade area as a year-round community hot spot, Jam N Bean’s business model goes beyond great coffee. Jam N Bean’s vision is to find ways to get more kids involved in local music programs, and they illustrate their commitment to music and arts programs by setting aside ten percent of sales to fund scholarships for kids at the local high school.
Jam N Bean is owned and operated by the Lee family, long-time advocates for arts/music curriculum and the role these programs play in the development of youth. The store is a year-round entertainment destination, in the summer featuring ice cream and four nights of entertainment per week, including swing dancing, live music, and deck parties. In the winter, the outdoor deck, nicknamed “Cascade on the Boardwalk,” transforms into an ice skating rink. Originally built in the 1850’s as what the Lee family believes was a carriage house, Jam N Bean is an inviting and unique atmosphere, beautifully restored to feature wood from the original construction.
What to try: Many of Jam N Bean regulars are devoted to various brewed blends. Oftentimes Jam N Bean will make specialty blends developed to meet a fundraising need, such as the Crew Brew. $2 from every pound sold of this specialty brew will go to support the Forest Hills crew team. If you have an appetite, Jam N Bean has sandwich and pastry selections, including all-natural/preservative-free bagels (from the Great American Bagel Company out of Holland, MI), and pastries baked by Jam N Bean staff.
Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge – http://lanterncoffee.com/
Newer to the Downtown Grand Rapids coffee scene, Lantern has quickly become a go-to destination for those seeking a welcoming
environment where anyone can feel like they belong. Lantern is committed to contributing to the neighborhood, the diversity of opinion, and the personalities that Grand Rapids encompasses. “Our vision is not merely about fantastic, compelling coffee –which we adore, by the way. It’s also about promoting and honoring what’s good in this city and within the people who call this place home,” says Rachel Bush of Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge. “We work creatively to honor our employees, customers and neighbors here in Heartside.” Lantern is also known for featuring an evolving selection of coffees from roasters across the U.S, with staple brews coming from Populace Cofee in Bay City, MI. For the most dedicated coffee enthusiasts, Lantern also has a rotating spot open in their line up to fill with the most exciting and new roaster they can find.
What to try: The Café Miel, featuring sweet and spicy hints of local honey and Vietnamese cinnamon, has taken Lantern by storm. Lantern also supports other local businesses by offering unique menu options, including Grand Rapids’ only hand-rolled boiled bagels (from GR Bagel) and vegan goodness from Bartertown Diner.
Café Aromas – http://www.tastycafearomas.com
Among a corridor of town surrounded by industrial buildings and concrete structures with little color, lays a gem. Café Aromas, on Grandville Avenue between Hall and Franklin St., adds charm and personality to the southwest side of Grand Rapids. Featuring coffee classics including a variety of mocha and latte blends, Café Aromas also features a specialty drink made from Mexican coffee (comparable to the Café Americano). As one walks into Café Aromas, their senses are immediately greeted by the aroma of a unique, spicy coffee blend, including many Fair Trade coffee and tea varieties from around the world. Café Aromas also has a significant amount of on-street (free) parking available for those who are on a go and do not have the time to hunt down a parking spot nor feed the meter. The warm atmosphere of Café Aromas also makes it a great place to have a quiet meeting with a colleague or friend.
What to try: Café Aromas has a great selection of sandwiches and paninis to suit any taste, and at an affordable price. Once discovered, Café Aromas has quickly become the coffee and lunch destination for many who live and work near downtown Grand Rapids.
Do you have a local coffee recommendation or review? Join the conversation on Twitter- #GRCoffeeQuest or comment below!
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Blog Post by Whitney Ehresman, Business Development Manager at Advanced Technology Recycling
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