Looking for a quick cup of joe, or a place to hunker down and get your work done? These locally owned Grand Rapids coffee shops are worth the drip. Er, trip.
A 2020 survey by the National Coffee Association found that 62% of people in the US drink coffee every day, with the average coffee drinker putting down just over three cups daily. And for many of us, enjoying that coffee while relaxing at a local café is an essential part of our lives.
But when you want one of those charming, unique, and locally owned neighborhood coffee houses to call your own, you need more than just a Google search. You need this list.
That Early Bird
1445 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids
Community comes first at this Eastown coffee shop. Owners Sarah Wepman and Joel Wabeke opened the shop in 2016, with an emphasis on making it a neighborhood home base. Along with coffee and food, That Early Bird regularly hosts activities that bring neighbors of all ages and backgrounds together—from local harvest nights to crafting events to game nights (picture senior citizens and teens teaming up to play Euchre, and folks consulting worn dictionaries over a Scrabble board). Across the street, you can also find a pizza shop that Wepman and Wabeke opened during the pandemic, which kept its fitting name—Quarantino’s. (The duo also owns Little Bird downtown in Monroe Center.)
Scorpion Hearts Club
1035 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids
In early 2023, after 15 years of business, Lori Slager Wenzel made the decision to rebrand The Sparrows—her Wealthy District café—as the Scorpion Hearts Club. The sudden move was brought on by the loss of her husband and the difficult times before and after his death, as she wrote on Medium. Wenzel chose the new name as a symbol of both fragility and strength. Indeed, the café’s website says they offer “coffee for badass dreamers,” and invites neighbors to “visit us on your fierce AND your fragile days.”
Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar
955 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids
Enjoy a cup of joe or an adult beverage at this coffee and wine bar mix in the Wealthy District. The walls are covered in delightful murals, and for such a standard-size space, Squibb has made good use of it—there’s lots of high- and low-top seating with access to outlets, for making the place your remote-work getaway. Squibb also features delectable charcuterie boards, among other lighter-side entrees like strawberry ricotta toast and grilled cheese. (Side note: Squibb now has a Downtown Market location, and represents on the Westside at a shared space with Rise Authentic Baking Co., called Rise & Squibb.)
Outside Coffee Co.
734 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids
Sticking very literally to their name, Outside Coffee in the Wealthy District is in a garden outfitted with seasonal furniture, hammocks, bonfires, and igloos when it’s cold. The café started as an extension of locally-owned apparel brand Woosah Outfitters, and is one of the highest-rated coffee shops in GR. Major plus: the gardens are dog friendly, and they even host meet-ups for cat-lovers to bring their harnessed felines.
800 Wealthy Street SE, Grand Rapids
Sisters Alyson & Mallory Caillaud-Jones helm this new French-American fusion café in the Wealthy District. The sisters first went into business selling products under cottage food law in October 2019 before opening their brick and mortar location in January of 2023. The café is a blend of a coffee shop and a pâtisserie—a bakery specializing in French pastries and sweets.
Madcap Coffee Company
1041 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids
Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Madcap is best known for its great coffee, which is served at several cafes across the state. But to really get to the essence of what makes Madcap such an important part of the state’s coffee culture, you need to head to the source. This East Fulton neighborhood coffee shop is Madcap’s second GR location (the first in Monroe Center downtown), and is housed in a renovated body shop near the farmers market. It maintains an amazing old-school aesthetic that you need to experience to appreciate. Plus, the roastery opens up their garage doors on sunny days, and always has lots of outdoor seating no matter the weather.
Stovetop Coffee Roasters
944 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids
Stovetop’s bright ambiance and open space makes it a great place to enjoy a cup while getting some work done or just catching up with friends. Bordering Midtown to the south, Stovetop prides itself on getting quality products at a fair deal to the farmers that do the hard work of getting those beans stateside. They also have the absolute cutest characters on their packaging. My favorite is Slouchy Cat.
Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge
100 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids
With “lounge” in the name, it makes sense that Lantern offers up a space that’s both welcoming and spacious. Up in the large-windowed coffee bar you can see all the action on the corner of Commerce and Oakes, but all your best rendezvous can happen in their bigger lower level.
PaLatte Coffee & Art
150 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids has a massive art scene, so it seems obvious that a blend of coffee and art would come together in the city. Beyond just having great drinks, PaLatte has eye candy with rows of artwork on the walls for you to admire or purchase. Ready for more art after you’re energized? The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, The Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum are all just a short walk away.
The Mortals Cafe + Confection
111 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids
This death-themed cafe is more than just coffee. The Mortals—which can be found in the Harris Building—also serves up Vietnamese phin coffee, herbal teas, and vegan treats like brownies, granola bars, and cookies. It also hosts Cafe Mortel, a monthly open discussion on death and dying. The owners say the theme of death is an effort to educate and support people as they grapple with the concept of mortality. (The Mortals also regularly hosts other events, like game nights.)
Lotus Brew Coffee/ Dry Bar
781 College Ave NE, Grand Rapids
Lotus Brew is located inside of Communitea Wellness, a collection of business owners who provide wellness services like massage and meditation. The cafe has a mission to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and allies, through events and community gatherings. Along with coffee, they are a dry bar with a selection of mocktails.
Local Mocha Coffee
96 Monroe Center St NW #100, Grand Rapids
Good coffee and good food in a cozy downtown setting. Feel like a local at this café in Monroe Center. Along with fair & direct trade organic coffee, Local Mocha serves up a selection of food including pastries, sandwiches, and breakfast items.
Happy Cat Cafe
447 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids
Make sure to plan your visit ahead at this reservation-only cat cafe. Enjoy cat-themed beverages (meow-cha latte, anyone?) while hanging out with the cafe’s cat lounge crew. You might even meet your new best feline friend. In which case, good news—adoptions are available at the cafe. Not interested in ownership yet, but still wanna spend time with the cats? Happy Cat takes volunteers as well.
Rise Authentic Baking Co.
1220 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids
This bakery and coffee shop prides itself on being entirely gluten-, soy-, and dye-free—as well as vegan. Located just beyond the northeast corner of John Ball Zoo, their menu includes pastries, desserts and savory food. The coffee at Rise comes from local favorite, Squibb.
The Bitter End Coffeehouse
752 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids
The Bitter End—located between GVSU’s downtown campus and the John Ball Zoo—operates out of an old bank building and is open 24/7—ideal for your late night caffeine cravings. Plus, you’ll feel like you’re straight out of an old-timey movie inside the shop, which has been restored to its 20th century appearance—complete with high tin ceilings, porcelain tile floors, and dark oak woodwork. All coffee beverages are made with The Bitter End’s own freshly roasted beans, for a delightful experience, day or night.
637 Stocking Ave NW, Grand Rapids
Queer-owned and community-centered, Morning Ritual is a place where coffee, conversation, and art come together. Over on Stocking between 3rd and 4th streets, the baristas at Morning Ritual specialize in floral and herbal house-made syrups, plus glitter-infused drinks. Morning Ritual also regularly hosts events like parties and pop-up markets.
Roots Brew Shop
600 7th St NW, Grand Rapids
Enjoy a selection of coffee and food at Roots Brew Shop, which is on the corner of Seward and 7th St., across the street from the big Ferris Coffee & Nut building. Founder Mallory Root set out to create a space where community was not only supported, but built. Beyond the welcoming people, a highlight of Roots is its unique aesthetic—mismatched furniture and dishes, and a giant seating area for dozens of patrons. Root says it’s meant to make it a welcoming space for everyone.
Gaia House Cafe
1553 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids
When Gaia Cafe closed its doors in 2014, it sent shockwaves through Grand Rapids’ East Hills community. Over its decades of business, the space had become a refuge for creatives to come together over great vegetarian food and coffee. Seven years later, former employee Andrea Bumstead launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to revive Gaia House Cafe in a new location—on Plainfield in Creston, mid-way between the Creston Brewery and City High Middle School. Along with still providing the same menu items and supporting the local art community, you can enjoy vegetarian and vegan brunch offerings and a coffee and juice lounge at Gaia House.
1600 E Beltline Ave NE Suite 118, Grand Rapids
The ambiance at Haggerty’s makes it a perfect place to post up in one of their booths for a while while you get some work done, or just want to relax. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, indulge in one of their menu items, like an açaí bowl or avocado toast. They’re located mid-way between Knapp Meijer and Meijer Gardens on the Beltline, down Eagle Run Dr. NE.
South of Downtown
Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters
1111 Godfrey Ave SE, Ste. N-190, Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters roasts some of the city’s highest-rated coffee, specializing in black coffee, espresso, and Americanos. But the real draw here is the Saturday Experience. Every Saturday, the roasters open their doors for invigorating conversations about all things coffee. No reservation is needed, and the experience comes with free samples and education. Find them in one of those cool old factory buildings in the Black Hills neighborhood.
Last Mile Cafe
1006 Hall St SE, Grand Rapids
Last Mile has a mission of sustainability and giving back to the community. Along with making sure their roasting practices are eco-friendly, the shop—located near the intersection of Hall and Fuller—says they’re committed to donating 10% of all of our revenue to charities chosen by customers. Last Mile also hosts coffee tasting and home brewing classes.
Rising Grinds Café
1167 Madison Ave SE, Grand Rapids
Originally started as a customer service training center for youth, Rising Grinds—on the corner of Madison and Hall—has evolved into an essential community resource center that provides workforce development programs and BIPOC entrepreneurship opportunities. Of course, you can still get a great cup of coffee and food there as well. A devastating fire created a massive setback for the business before it even started, but they were able to reemerge from the ashes thanks to help from the local community.
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