Sunday, March 20, 2011

MadCap Coffee - Grand Rapids Enters the Big Leagues

In what's quickly becoming a school-vacation tradition, I brought the family along to work with me this week. Rather than camp out in Lansing, where my client is, we picked up a room in Grand Rapids. Nothing against Lansing, which is kind of a neat place in it's own right, but Grand Rapids just has a lot more going on.

One of best things Grand Rapids has going on is some seriously bad-ass coffee at MadCap, downtown. Some seriously bad-ass US Barista Jam first-place regional finishing single origin espresso custom built pour over rig super-sweet latte art coffee. The place was packed, too. Grand Rapids has come a long way since I was last hanging out downtown.

A lot of things give MadCap major street cred - the beans are directly sourced and roasted in house. (The roaster is housed in the basement of the shop, visible through a cleverly designed cutout in the floor). Coffee is ground and brewed for each cup, one at a time, in a very, very slick custom made pour over station. The latte art is gorgeous.

With the girls sipping hot chocolates in the two last available seats (they both said the hot chocolates were better than Intelligentsia, which is saying something), Tracy and I chatted with the baristas. They're deeply committed to making this work, and you can see it in the way the whole place comes together. It's not a high budget enterprise exactly - the tables and chairs are all stock Ikea, the slick wood veneer lamp shades are coming a little loose in the corners, and the roaster looks like it could put out 10 lbs at a time, tops - but they've invested where it counts: skilled people, top-notch machinery, and hands-on international sourcing of some really good beans.

But the thing that matters most is in the cup, and MadCap does this on par with the best places I've been - my single-origin shot was powerfully tart, and a little sweet - reminiscent of Stumptown more than anything else. And the lattes, where that tartness was softened by the milk but punchy enough to still show through, were spectacular. I work an hour from here, but this is coffee I might be willing to drive 60 miles to get my hands on.

Madcap Coffee on Urbanspoon

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