The Rapidian

Grand Rapids micro-roaster doing coffee right

Grand Rapids native Craig Patterson opened his coffee store in 2007 in an old warehouse downtown. To get his business out there, he started "The Saturday Experience" which allows customers to sample their coffee and espresso.

Business hours for Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters

Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

616-308-7753

Order their coffee beans on website, or visit their store at 1111 Godfrey Ave. SW Suite S-530. After walking up the wooden staircase to the fifth floor, the shop can be found across the freight elevator or stairs. 

/Jenean Zahran

/Jenean Zahran

Hidden in a 100-year-old seemingly abandoned warehouse on the corner of Hall and Godfrey lies the home of a small micro-roaster called Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters.

After climbing five flights of stairs accompanied by motivational signs, visitors are finally greeted with two big doors that lead to Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters. Just follow the invigorating aroma of brewed coffee after walking through the doors - yes, a little work is involved to get to these coffee beans, but it’s completely worth it.

Owner and coffee enthusiast Craig Patterson began his business in 2007, and has been roasting coffee beans since 2002. While his business is open during weekdays, they are also open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for something called the Saturday Experience.

“I chose this location simply because it was cheap,” Patterson says. “We started the Saturday Experience in 2008 to reach out to our customers more and to get them to come to this odd location.”

On Saturdays customers can drink free samples of coffee and espresso shots as well as receive a one-on-one education on the farming of coffee beans and how to properly roast them.

After going to their Saturday Experience and drinking some of the best coffee I have ever tasted, I feel as though I have been fully educated on the topic.

“We are the only roaster in town to do custom roasts or blends for a customer while they wait,” Patterson says. "The customer can see everything.”

Unlike other coffee establishments who typically roast their beans eight to 12 minutes for productivity, G.R. Coffee Roasters slows the roasting process, allowing the natural sugars of the beans to caramelize.

“We typically do our roasts between 16 and 20 minutes,” says Leigh Anne Koonmen, one of the roasters. “If you roast the beans too fast, you’re cooking outside of the bean, but not necessarily the inside of the bean. Doing that can cause a sharper or a more bitter taste.”

After tasting their coffee, I could immediately tell the difference. Their coffee was rich, full of flavor and probably one of the smoothest tasting cups of coffee I’ve ever had. 

The beans are purchased from countries in the in the “bean belt,” which falls under the Tropic of Cancer. This includes countries in South America, Central America, Africa and a couple of Indonesian Islands.

“We only buy the top specialty graded coffee,” Patterson says. “We have better beans than the big national chains because there’s not enough of that high grade specialty coffee that they can buy."

Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters custom roasts each batch for customers. If a customer feels unsure of what type of beans they are looking for, all the information for each batch can be provided. 

“We give them all the information about the coffee before they decide want one they want,” Patterson says. “We can tell them where it comes from, whether it’s fair trade organic or not [and then] suggest a roast for them, and the customer can determine whether or not they want to stick with that roast.”

At the store is the “Coffee Mug Wall of Shame" on display, which is a collection of competitors’ ceramic coffee mugs people have brought in to receive a free G.R. Coffee Roasters ceramic mug. If you bring in a mug from a competitor they don’t already have on their wall, you will receive a 12 ounce bag of coffee. 

At Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters I had a great "Saturday Experience" with good company, and learned more than I thought I ever would about coffee beans. In addition to the coffee and espresso, Patterson also has a selection of loose leaf teas available to purchase for those who are not big coffee drinkers. Whether you are looking for a place to drink coffee with friends or simply curious to see how your coffee beans are roasted before being put on the shelf, I would highly recommend visiting this place.

I should warn you, though, that after coming here, you might start to have bitter feelings toward your favorite national coffee chains.

Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters is located at 1111 Godfrey Ave. SW Suite S-530. The hours of business are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Customers can order by phone at 616-308-7753, e-mail or on their website. All of the beans are roasted to order.

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