As I begin to spend more time making Grand Rapids not only my place of work but also my home, I’ve come to some key realizations. Grand Rapids seems to have nearly as big of an influence on coffee culture as it does in the craft beer market. As local craft breweries, such as Founders, have begun to increase in popularity and barrel production, so has the local coffee industry. Names like Madcap, Ferris Coffee & Nut Co, and Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters have quickly spread throughout the community over the last several years as major players both in the coffee roasting industry as well as on the local brewing level.
In addition to the major players mentioned above Grand Rapids has a seemingly innumerable amount of local cafes that many people, across all ages, find themselves spending much of their time at. Some of my favorite cafes so far, that you may find yourself enjoying as well, are Outside Coffee, Lightfast Coffee + Art, and Roots Brew Shop. Of these three cafes Outside Coffee sticks out the most in my mind as a unique blend of downtown convenience and calm serenity. A garden oasis tucked in amongst the traffic and rush that metropolitan life can sometimes push on you. A place that expresses the very essence of what I like to reference as urban calm.
The more time I spend in Grand Rapids the more I realize the allure of the coffee culture. Although I do believe many of the residents here in Grand Rapids appreciate the effort, time, and dedication it takes in sourcing, roasting, and producing a quality cup of coffee, I don’t believe everyone always frequents these various cafes just for the drinks alone. Instead, I see much of Grand Rapids flocking to these locations as an effort to foster community. Visiting any of the coffee houses in the greater Grand Rapids area would quickly show that just as many people who have a mug in front of them also have a book, laptop, or group of friends. The coffee house environment in Grand Rapids not only facilitates your morning cup of coffee but also has become the place to build community and relationships. It’s for this reason that I believe Grand Rapids has such an incredible spread of roasters and cafes throughout the city. Although many of us love our coffee in Grand Rapids, the real draw for many people is the opportunity to have a centralized place to meet and build lasting relationships with others.
-Kendrick Satterfield, 7th Row Creative: Head of Photo & Video