GR Cafe Spotlight: the best places to escape the winter chill

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Story by Martina Devetak, Reporter
Photo courtesy of

The snowy days of February can make winter seem never-ending. And with classes cancelled due to snow, ice or falling trees, you might just need to get off campus. Here are a few of the coffee shops Grand Rapids boasts that can help you warm up this month.

Common Ground

Good old Common Ground is probably one of the most popular coffee shops among Aquinas students and passes its reputation from one class to another. However, maybe some freshmen are reading this article, and have never hear about a famous AQ study place, so why not enlighten them? Common Ground attracts with its old-fashioned atmosphere. Old chairs, tables and ceilings perfectly add a spice to the atmosphere. Personally, a table located right next to huge, wooden windows is my favorite spot to study. Calm, authentic music and a cup of black, freshly-brewed coffee are the perfect tools to help you write a long paper or study for an upcoming exam.

Common Ground is one of those rare coffee shops which will discount thirty cents if you bring your own mug. Moreover, they have biodegradable stir sticks instead of plastic spoons and straws to help keep our oceans clean and protect the marine life from excessive use of plastic.

If Moose muffins and bagels are your favorite breakfast options, you can also find them in Common Ground. Delivered fresh and daily from the Shnitz deli, they will be a perfect match to a wide variety of black coffee, lattes and teas offered in a coffee shop. For a large cup of coffee and a muffin, you would usually pay three dollars. That being said, Common Ground is one of the cheapest coffee shops in the east area of Grand Rapids. If you are not a big fan of regular or flavored black coffee, and prefer lattes, expect to pay up to four dollars for the largest cup.

Overall, if you feel a desire to get off campus, but don’t want to drive or take a bus, Common Ground is a perfect choice– It’s a short walk from Aquinas College and a perfect destination for a long and productive study session.

Outside Coffee Company

Don’t want to stay inside anymore? Then Outside Coffee Co is a perfect option for you. Once you arrive on 734 Wealthy St SE, you will see a couple igloos, hammocks, and a trail surrounded by trees in the middle of Grand Rapids Eastown. A wide range of delicious coffee options is available there. Personally, my favorite there is a café miel (which is a latte with honey and cinnamon) with soy milk. If you are looking for some light brunch options, Outside Coffee Co has a wide variety of them as well. Avocado, salmon toast and many others are available throughout the day as well as many vegan snacks.

There is a Woosah Outfitters shop available right next to the Outside Coffee Company that is definitely worth a visit. There, you can find various outside gear, cozy sweaters, cute mugs, creative posters, maps and tons of differently-themed stickers to decorate your laptop.

Prices in this coffee shop vary from three to five dollars for a latte, and you should expect to pay approximately six dollars for toast. Even if you might consider it a little bit pricey, Outside Coffee Co is worth a visit and nothing can make a winter cozier rather than observing outside beauty from one of those igloos with a warm cup of coffee in your hands.

Lyon Street Café

Have you ever been to France and gone to one of their bakeries? If not, Lyon Street Café, located in the middle of Grand Rapids, will give you an opportunity to experience that. This coffee shop is located on 617 Lyon St NE, and probably the smell of freshly-baked baguette will be a better GPS there than your phone. Lyon’s bakery has a wide variety of baked goodies, but if you want a real French experience, you should try one of their delicious croissants. Once you’ve grabbed your crispy, still-warm croissant, you should head to Lyon’s coffee shop, which is right next door to the bakery. The smell of freshly-brewed coffee will welcome you, as well as the stylish loft design. High tables located on the right of the entrance are a perfect place to study. However, if you are looking for a place to hang out with your friends, a lot of huge, wooden tables are offered as well.

In Lyon Street Café, you should expect to pay approximately four to six dollars for a latte (depends on your milk preference and flavors). I consider it a small price for the fact that you don’t have to travel all the way to France in order to try their delicious croissants accompanied by a café au lait!

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