The Sparrows: A Review


The Sparrows Coffee, Tea, and Newsstand, located at 1035 Wealthy St SE, is an English professor’s dream come true. Wide wooden floor boards creak gently as you browse the indie magazines (Think Ms. and Lucky Peach as well as tried and true lit mags like Paris Review, Glimmer Train, and The Normal School. I know). The atmosphere has a quiet buzz; maybe it’s the caffeine, or maybe it’s the locals’ intellectual conversations. The coffee menu is spare, but it still features treats such as The Papa Toe (an almond coconut mocha) and The Behemoth (sweetened condensed milk poured over a shot of espresso).

At 9am on August 20th, these bloggers met to plot out our next year of reading and writing. We went for simple endless cups of the medium roast and cafe au laits (this blogger’s fave). The coffee was absolutely delicious, and the company was divine (as always). Lisa P. tried a scone. We think it’s from Wealthy St. Bakery–always a win.

I would always pick The Sparrows over Biggby or Starbucks, but I would even choose it over Kava House. It just has a nicer vibe. So next time you’re down Wealthy St, and you need a hit of coffee before attacking your pile of grading, try The Sparrows. You won’t be sorry. Unless it’s closed.


2013-14 Theme–Responding to Student Writing

We’re “wrapping” our inaugural year and 2013-14 theme:

Responding to Student Writing

Huot, Brian, and Peggy O'Neill.  Assessing Writing: A Critical Sourcebook.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008.

Check out our 4th Quarter, June reviews of Assessing Writing: A Critical Sourcebook (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s/NCTE, 2009) by Brian Huot and Peggy O’Neill.   They’re accessed by clicking the Responding to Student Writers tab above.  While you’re at it, please reply, too, with your own thoughts and practices.

Coming attraction–beginning in September, our new 2014-15 theme

Arranging Students’ Peer Reviews

We invite your ideas for the four quarterly titles we select to prompt our discussions.  

As always, we invite you to join our conversations.

Coffee and Conversations

The Bitter End Coffeehouse on West Fulton Street in Grand Rapids has atmosphere and attitude.

The Bitter End Coffeehouse on West Fulton Street in Grand Rapids has ample atmosphere.

Every quarter during the academic year, we review a book and respond to one anothers’ posts.   Twice a year, we gather at a local coffee shop to fuel our choice of an annual theme and four titles to read-and-review.   We  plan to post our reviews and responses by the ends of September, December, March, and June.

We kicked off February 2014 in the Bitter End Coffeehouse on West Fulton Street in Grand Rapids–next to Frank’s Meat Market.   The choices and servings of fair trade coffee are impressive.  My solid-squat mug of Colombia Supremo was suitably robust to start a slow-snowy Saturday morning.   Lisa came away with some University Blend, and Susan, too, snagged a bag of Sumatra mix.   The place is dripping in atmosphere: dark oak paneling, period lamps, leaded glass, tin ceiling, fuBitter End Coffeehousenky framed pictures, and four clocks set for Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Grand Rapids time–all identically ticking together at Eastern Standard–Huh?  (Kudos go to Susan for noticing this anomaly!)  Go for the coffee, and soak in the setting.   But don’t bother with any baked goods: my blueberry muffin was standard issue, and the scones selected by both Susan and Lisa were barely passing.