Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge, located at 100 Commerce SE in downtown Grand Rapids, is a hidden gem. The upstairs entry is sleek and modern. Once you place your coffee order, you descend into a comfortable lounge area, replete with soft lighting and interesting art.
Lisa, Tom, and Rachel met there at 9 on a Saturday morning, and what a way to start a morning. The coffee was delicious–a far cry from the Biggby and Starbucks on every other street corner. The brand is Populace and the coffee is made using the pour-over method. One orders a particular bean, for example Sulawesi Pango Pango, with notes of Caramel Apple, Floral, and Dark Chocolate or Kenya Kiruga, with notes of Green Apple, Cherry, and Sugar Cane. You can just forget about your sad, tired Skinny Vanilla Latte or Pumpkin Spice whatever. There is a small menu of baked items. We all had the raspberry scone, and it was everything a scone should be: buttery, tender, crunchy, and sweet. Don’t be dissuaded by the size–you can eat it all. I promise.
Next time you’re planning an intimate assignation or a collegial meeting, think about Lantern. Just bring a handful of quarters for the parking meter–you know what parking downtown can be like.
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.