Chimes needs section editors for the 2014-15 academic year. Apply here.

Caffeine fix: Grand Rapids abundant with coffee

Madcap is known for its high-quality roasts and modern atmosphere.
Madcap is known for its high-quality roasts and modern atmosphere.

With the start of school comes the start of homework and all the chaos that follows. The question of where to study becomes prominent as papers, tests and reading piles up to a daunting height. Old studying spots such as the library, Johnny’s or the morgue suddenly seem unequipped to battle the inescapable horrors of homework; concentrating on campus just seems impossible.

Fortunately, Grand Rapids is home to many coffee shops that will not only satisfy the need for a change of atmosphere, but also help kick start that motivation to focus with the help of caffeine and sugar.

Biggby Coffee

Address: 2500 E. Beltline

Hours: Monday – Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday – Sunday 7 a.m- 10 a.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: College and local relaxed

Distance from Calvin: 0.07 miles

If you like your coffee on the sweeter side or don’t feel like venturing too far from campus, this local, Michigan-based chain is a perfect place to escape for a few hours.  The upstairs sitting area is an ideal place to pound out some papers without feeling secluded from all of society. Coffee is overpriced, but the 7-layer bars are gooey and delicious.

The Bitter End Coffee House

Address: 752 Fulton

Hours: 24/7

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Local regulars, library serious

Distance from Calvin: 6.4 miles

This 24-hour coffee shop (one of Grand Rapids’ only all-night establishments) seems like a God-send when the realization that a paper or test is just around the corner sets in. If you’re looking for quiet, library-like space to study, the wooden chairs, tightly squeezed tables and concentrated look on everyone’s face helps set the mood in this always busy location. Filled with regulars and those who work late into the night, it is difficult to find a space if not seated before 8 p.m. The business usually lasts until 4 a.m., when the regulars begin to leave, and begins again around 7 a.m.  The never-ending cup of coffee, though pricey at $6, is well worth the money if you plan on staying there all night to get some hardcore studying done.

Go Java Coffee

Address: 15 Ionia Ave SW # 120

Hours: Monday – Thursday 6:30 a.m to 9 p.m. Friday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Energetic, moderately loud

Distance from Calvin: 6.1 miles

Offering tasty items including paninis, soups and yogurt parfait, Go Java Coffee is easy on the pocketbook. This moderately busy spot has a slim seating arrangement, so it is best to just grab and go. The cremosa is delicious, but the iced latte is a must.

Kava House

Address: 1445 Lake Dr SE

Hours: Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: College chill

A coffee shop that is both welcoming and cozy, Kava House is a Calvin favorite. This location is usually busy on the weekends as well as the workdays, however it is perfect place to spend a Saturday preparing for a test or just catch up with a friend. It can be loud and energetic but luckily there are two rooms to choose to sit in, so the option is yours. Wear layers — if seating is only available in the outer room, it can get quite warm. The Irish Coffee is delicious, smooth and slightly nutty.

Local Mocha

Address: 96 Monroe Center

Hours: Monday – Thursday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wi-Fi: No

Atmosphere: Fun, energetic

Distance from Calvin: 6.3 miles

Offering everything from breakfast to ice cream as well as a few house specialty coffee drinks, Local Mocha has great service and quality as well as friendly baristas to keep you entertained with jokes, stories or a sincere smile. Sometimes it can be loud and the seating fills quickly at the counter and few tables, but everything they offer is ever so delicious. It is a perfect place to look over notes while listening to music.

Madcap Coffee

Address: 98 Monroe Center

Hours: Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Posh serious

Distance from Calvin: 6.3 miles

The high ceiling, large walls and ample windows give this coffee shop a uniquely modern and cozy feel. Located right in the buzz of the city, this place is perfect to come to just enjoy talk with some friends or flip through a few flashcards before a test. It can be quiet but is always busy.   This is the place to come if you are looking for some latte art from aloof baristas or want to enjoy a mocha that isn’t too sweet.  This is a place for coffee snobs – great quality coffee, but not for the novice drinker.

The Sparrows Coffee Tea and Newsstand

Address: 1035 Wealthy St. SE

Hours:  Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Local chill

Distance from Calvin: 4.2 miles

Offering all the latest lit and art magazines, this coffee, tea and newsstand is a local favorite and is always filled with interesting people. There is ample seating but it is quickly filled by those studying, working or quietly talking. It is a great place to discuss, research or get reading out of the way.  The coffee is smooth and the Papa Toe is blended to perfection, not to mention the delicious and sometimes vegan baked goods.  Tea lovers rejoice – Sparrows offers the most choices in town.

Wealthy Street Bakery

Address: 610 Wealthy St SE

Hours: Monday – Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Friendly relaxed

Distance from Calvin: 4.1 miles

From pizza and sandwiches to an array of baked goods, this delicious bakery offers a lot to go with your coffee.  Although there is a morning and lunch rush, this place is not too loud and has a friendly vibe instead of feeling like a bakery. It is the perfect place to go for hard and light studying, and with a carrot cake cupcake you can’t go wrong.

West Coast Coffee

Address: 55 Monroe Center

Hours: Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Energetic

Distance from Calvin: 4.1 miles

West Coast Coffee is the perfect place to go work on group projects.  With easily movable tables and an energetic feel, this coffee bar has a friendly and inviting vibe, not to mention that all the seasonal decorations make this place feel a little like home. The service is great and the freshly squeezed lemonade is yummy.

ROWSTER

Address: 632 Wealthy Street

Hours: Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wi-Fi: No

Atmosphere: Local

Distance from Calvin: 4.8 miles

A coffee company and shop that makes sure all details of their coffee are perfect, starting with the roasting process and ending with a savory taste, your four something dollar cup of coffee will not be consumed in vain.  With workers that are as passionate for coffee as for the technique put into making truly a perfect cup, latte art or anything pertaining to coffee, this is the place to come if you like quality. It is a perfect place to come if you want to moderately concentrate.

Schuil Coffee and Tea Shoppe

Address: 3679 29th Street

Hours: Monday-Friday 7-6, Saturday 9-4, closed Sunday

Wi-Fi: Yes

Atmosphere: Small, family establishment

Grand Rapids’ first specialty coffee roasting house was founded in 1981 by a family of Calvin graduates.  Conveniently located in an area that could be called a “coffee desert,”  Schuil offers a bright spot on the busy 28th street strip.  With extended hours in the month of  December, Schuil makes an excellent exam cram locale.

About the Author

Colleen Keehl

Colleen Keehl is the Chimes Arts and Entertainment editor for the 2012-13 school year.

View all posts by 

Comments