By Colin Smith
Between Biggby Coffee founder Michael McFall graduating from Kalamazoo College 20 years ago and Water Street Coffee taking over the College’s library cafe this past fall, coffee has been the school’s means to the ends of studying.
That said, as Kalamazoo Coffee Co. just recently expanded their locations to over 80 Meijer stores nationwide, there are a number of other venues to either grab a coffee with a friend or a 1 lb. bag to brew later.
Black Owl Cafe — The shared vision of Darren Bain and Garrett Krugh, Black Owl works as the main hub for Kalamazoo Coffee Co. Nearly all of the space is made of wood, and each part of its decoration, such as its signature owl, fits the cafe’s holistic schema. Their 12 oz. bags of fresh coffee beans tend to earthy filled between subtle notes, especially the ever-popular Backpacker’s Blend. The cafe’s only downside is their short hours from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the weekdays, and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekends.
Fourth Coast Cafe — Notorious for sharing the same space as the revered Crow’s Nest restaurant, the cafe is also known for being open 24 hours every day. Despite these never-ending hours, it can be difficult to find a seat, or at least the focus, due to the venue’s popularity amongst students and the eclectic music tastes of the baristas.
Water Street Coffee Joint — Though cramped, this bright and open space between two of Kalamazoo’s busiest streets is one of the city’s most popular cafes. That said, it tends to appeal to an older clientele, and their orders can be comparatively more expensive. Their “Midnight Oil” is their best dark roast, but any of their blends can be found at local groceries like Meijer or Harding’s.
Something’s Brewing — As the oldest coffee shop in Kalamazoo they offer over 50 varieties of whole bean coffee. Though their wide selection can be overwhelming, the cafe sits across the street from the public library. Given its convenient location, and as both Fourth Coast and Water Street tend to be busy, Something’s Brewing is a hidden gem. Interestingly, they also use coffee ice cubes, so cold drinks don’t become diluted during the spring and summer.
Caffe Casa — With an upright piano, a couch, local artwork, and a vegan-friendly menu, this cafe is calmer than the rest. As they offer both a wide selection and large portions of tea, this quaint and quiet nook of the Kalamazoo Mall is not just suited to coffee drinkers.
Totally Brewed Cafe — While offering inexpensive prices at about $6 for a meal and a drink, Totally Brewed Cafe lies across Bronson Park. Open from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., if not for their coffee, bring their “Sack Lunch” to the park—completed with a sandwich, pickle, bag of chips, and a cookie.