If I am going to live up to my screen name, the one thing I must do is spend my time writing about coffee shops. Often, I will write while I am at them, but so far I have only reviewed Tim Hortons, which is more of a corporate entity. Today I shall introduce you to my new favorite location, The Sparrows.
Located at 1035 Wealthy Street SE in uptown Grand Rapids, MI, The Sparrows is a cozy little corner in which to relax and enjoy life at a proper pace. The first time I visited I had no knowledge of the area at all, and simply came here to meet up with a friend. I ordered the café au lait, also the first time I had ordered that particular beverage. I have no basis of comparison, but it was fine as far as taste goes. Fast forward a year and, in my attempt to become better acquainted with areas beyond the center of downtown or the businesses along 28th street, I happened past The Sparrows. I had entirely forgotten it existed, and in the spirit of exploration I decided to stop in and spend awhile here all by myself.
The first thing I noticed was the parking. There’s nothing but parallel parking along both sides of the road, and this can be quite annoying at times, but it has the distinct advantage of being entirely free. I also stepped through the door right when they opened, so I wasn’t exactly hurting for a parking space when I arrived. Now, I could choose from a variety of coffee or tea items on the menu, but I simply haven’t. I’m in no position to say anything at all about their tea or most of their coffee drinks. It takes awhile to make anything not pure coffee, so they at the very least seem to care about their product. No, when I come here it is for one big reason: their bottomless coffee. For $4 I can drink as much damn coffee as I want the entire day, which a choice between medium roast and dark roast (the exact blend varies by the day). I stayed here awhile that first day and managed to get quite the caffeine buzz. The first time around I stuck with the dark roast, but since then I have mixed it up a bit, leaning perhaps more towards the medium roast. Again, I like my coffee black, and when I have theirs black it is delicious and goes down well. Perhaps I’m just that used to coffee, but it doesn’t seem bitter to me at all. It tastes only of high quality, and while I could chug this coffee too, I’d rather savor every precious sip.
Their food selection is quite limited, but that’s not unheard of for an independent place like this. For the purposes of a fairer review, I decided to buy a blueberry muffin. Well, it wasn’t what I’d call a “muffin” so much as a bar. It was fluffy and good, but not at all in the traditional muffin shape (not that that matters). I’ve been spoiled on the blueberry muffin front (my mother makes hers with fresh blueberries, and a bit too many of them per muffin), so the flavor wasn’t blueberry enough for me, but it was decent enough. Maybe not worth the couple of bucks I spent on it, but it was a pleasing experience chewing on the fluffy goodness of it.
Aside from the coffee, the atmosphere is the best part of The Sparrows. It has an old homey feel to it, aided in part by the wooden floors that aren’t exactly level in all spots. Due to the space limitations, the tables are packed in a little tight. I need to go up and get more coffee, but I want to try to not disturb the man sitting next to me, or more awkwardly, the guy that just took the table in front of me. When filled, these tables do not allow the free flow of people without unwanted physical contact involved on some level. Of course, if you wish to sit next to a window this is less of a problem. Unsurprisingly, they have free wi-fi, but anyone who wishes to be plugged into an outlet will often be disappointed. Outlets are incredibly few, and they only have a single power strip in one of them which slightly alleviates the problem (and only with more bumping into people). If you want to run on battery power, for however long that lasts, you’re certainly more than welcome to. It’s entirely my own fault for sitting in a corner, though. In my defense, I didn’t want the seat where the outlet would have been right behind my ass.
If you’re willing to ignore the inconveniences with regards to seating and power outlets, this is definitely the place to go. The coffee is good, the atmosphere is relaxed, and you can get as much reading or writing done as you need to. It’s exactly the kind of indie coffee shop hip television protagonists would visit.
(They are on WordPress as well. Visit http://thesparrowsgr.com for more info).