Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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G R A N D R A P I D S , M I C H I G A N Who doesn't love the classic rise-fall-rise-again story arc? If you're into that, you will love Michigan. Thanks to a particular recession we're all familiar with, Michigan's story line is just that. But now we're back, we're proud, and we've got freshwater and fresher coffee to prove it. When I moved back to my home state as an adult, I made it a pet project to explore as much as I could. I fi ll my weekends traveling my beautiful state—a state that smells of cherry and faint manure, where corn fi elds roll into city skylines, and you can trip down sand dunes straight into freshwater. All this exploration is how one day I found myself in Grand Rapids, Michigan's second-biggest city and its indisputable coffee capital. Let's rewind a bit. Moving back to my home state was a complicated experience. I grew up during the 2000s, a decade that became known as the "one-state recession" in Michigan, which in 2008 was confi rmed on a national level by the Great Recession. (If we recessed before it was cool, we defi nitely third-waved coffee before it was cool, but I'm getting to that). Family members and friends' parents lost their jobs, our state's industry declined, and buildings were abandoned across sprawling city blocks. Now, I'm not saying that coffee saved Michigan, but I'm not saying it didn't. After all, we're a state of hard workers, and hard work is often fueled by good coffee. And the people of Grand Rapids not only work hard, but they have access to some of the nation's best coffee— coincidence? I think not. Since 2010, the city has seen immense job growth in manufacturing, health, tourism, education, and more. Traffi c to the Grand Rapids airport is at an all-time high. It seems the rest of the world is catching on to this undoubtedly fantastic city. After all, Grand Rapids boasts the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, a world-famous outdoor art festival, beautiful botanical gardens, and proudly wears the title of Beer City U.S.A. On my most recent trip to this city, I had a different brew in mind, though: the caffeinated variety. As a past host city of the United States Coffee Championships preliminaries, Grand Rapids is home to top- notch roasters and award-winning baristas alike. Because I'm a bit of an overachiever, I set myself the goal to do a coffee crawl of all these cafés in one day. Now, in other metropolises, that might have been more pleasantly achievable, but in Grand Rapids, where every corner is home to a roaster or artisan coffee shop, it was a bit … challenging. By that, I mean the amount of caffeine I consumed had me convinced that either a) the apocalypse was imminent, or b) I could solve world peace. While both of these epiphanies faded as the caffeine left my bloodstream, my love of the Grand Rapids coffee scene only grew. R I S E + S Q U I B B My fi rst stop on the Great Grand Rapids Coffee Crawl was a new café on the metaphorical block: Rise + Squibb. Although brand new, this café is the joint venture of two Grand Rapids greats. Squibb Opposite page, at top: A coff ee drinker crosses the Blue Footbridge in Grand Rapids. Formerly called the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Bridge, this bridge traverses the Grand River. It is one of the longest truss bridges in Michigan, and is an iconic locale in Grand Rapids. Below: The author relaxes in a hammock in the public garden situated by Outside Coff ee Co., a mobile coff eehouse. On any summer day, you'll fi nd countless sun-worshipping Grand Rapids residents enjoying coff ee, a book, a picnic, or all three. This page: The Bi er End Coff eehouse is housed in a renovated century-old bank in West Grand Rapids. It has a neoclassical façade, oak woodwork, and leaded windows. 51

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