Local Eats: New coffee shop brings specialty drinks to Grand Rapids neighborhood

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A new coffee shop is opening in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood.

Sparrows Coffee opened at a location inside Kingma’s Market, 2225 Plainfield Ave. NE, on Thursday, June 24. The full-service coffee shop has indoor seating for 14 people and offers a wide selection of drinks including lattes and cortados, espresso, drip coffee, cold brew coffee and more.

“We want people to take a break from their hectic routine and be able to just hang out and have a coffee and feel relaxed,” said Tim Volkema, CEO of Sparrows Coffee and its parent company, Schuil Coffee.

The Sparrows has its own entrance at the southeast corner of Plainfield Avenue NE and Marywood Drive NE, and it’s also connected to Kingma’s from the inside. It also has an outdoor patio with room for between 15 to 20 people.

The new location is Sparrows second coffee shop in Grand Rapids. Its original coffee shop, located at 1035 Wealthy St. SE, opened in 2007. The company was purchased by Schuil Coffee in 2018 with the goal of expanding its brand and reaching new markets.

Sparrow’s coffee can now be purchased online and in retailers, and it’s also served by restaurants such as That Early Bird and Lucy’s Café in Grand Rapids.

The idea for the new Sparrows location blossomed from conversations between Volkema and Alan Hartline, the president of Kingma’s Market. The two knew one another because Kingma’s sells a lot of Schuil coffee, and one day Hartline approached Volkema with the idea of transforming a storage room into a café.

“He was like, ‘I have this interesting real estate that I think could turn into a really nice coffee shop, and I think it’s something the neighborhood really wants,’” Volkema recalled. He said Kingma’s is a great fit for a Sparrows because the grocery store specializes in local and gourmet foods, and that there’s a lot of similarities between the two businesses customers.

“Alan’s focus on quality and local I think resonates deeply with the audience that we have at Sparrows,” Volkema said.

The coffee shop has white marble countertops, a concrete floor, and a garage-style door that opens and closes. It’s designed to feel welcoming and spacious, and Volkema hopes it’s a place where customers want to hang out, talk with the staff about coffee, or read or study.

In addition to Sparrows’ menu of coffee and espresso drinks, the new location is offering five new specialty drinks.

They include: Golden Chai (golden milk, black tea and cardamom); Leland Palmer (black gold tea, lemonade and lavender); Ghia Colada (soft aperitif, coconut, pineapple and Lime); Dirtier Harry (black tea, espresso, oat milk and bergamot); and the Cold Foam Mocha (cold brew, cold foam and single-producer mocha sauce).

Because it’s summer, the drinks are all served cold. But Volkema said the specialty drinks would be tweaked once the weather turns cold and customers want hot drinks.

“We have a couple people on our team with a culinary background,” he said. “They went to town.”

He added, “The original idea was what can we do that’s fun and engaging … We thought how can we do something fun and engaging that people will want to ask us questions about, and I think the team did a really nice job putting together this menu.”

In addition to coffee, the cafe will have a small selection of baked goods and parfaits. It will be open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information on Sparrows can be found on its website.

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