We see coffee shops of all shapes and sizes during the Build Outs of Summer. From 9,000-square-foot mega-facilities to portable one-person operations, the craft of high quality coffee knows no standard format. And the newest edition to this build out panoply–Water Street Coffee Joint in Kalamazoo, Michigan–is further evidence of that fact. It may just be the first drive-thru only cafe we’ve featured here on the Build Outs of Summer.
And before you brush this off as some coffee shop taking over an old fast food joint, you need to see this space. Working with architecture firm M1/DTW, the new Water Street is one of the most modern looking structures we’ve seen this year in Build Outs, drive-thru or not. It’s a brave new world in 2017; quality coffee and good design can be found everywhere. In this case, it’s at Water Street Coffee in Kalamazoo.
As told to Sprudge by Elizabeth Comrie.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Water Street Coffee Joint is locally owned and has been operating cafes in the Kalamazoo and Portage area since 1993. All of our coffees are roasted in-house, in small batches and our foods are handmade daily and utilize local produce. We also distribute wholesale coffee and services all over the state of Michigan.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Water Street Coffee Joint is excited to be opening its first drive-thru only location. This will be our fifth retail location in the greater Kalamazoo area. The owner has an affinity for interesting spaces. Our original location was a gasoline and service station in the 1930s, and our roastery, built in the 1880s, was at different times a lighter manufacturer and cigar factory. While we were unable to keep the original building due to structural issues (formerly Miller’s Smokehouse and the Pizza Square), we do hope to honor the lot’s history by keeping the dual lane drive-thru and beautiful landscaping.
Located just off I-94, Kalamazoo is the exact halfway point between Chicago and Detroit. We’re looking forward to serving the thirsty (and hungry) travelers along this route. Expansive display windows along the front and side of the building allow patrons to see both the baristas creating drinks and our beautiful deli-style house made local food. We wanted to create the feeling of being in one of our cafes, while remaining in your car.
What’s your approach to coffee?
At Water Street Coffee, we just love coffee. We love everything about it. We love its subtleties, its complexities. The artistry necessary to execute the perfect cappuccino and the mechanics necessary to dial in the perfect shot of espresso. We appreciate it raw or roasted. Hot or iced. Blended or single origin. We like dressing it up and we especially like letting it speak for itself. The four cornerstones of our business are: coffee, quality, creativity and community.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
I really think the display windows–the visibility of the fresh baked goods, deli items and baristas are the highlight of this new build. As for equipment, we’re looking at a Ditting grinder, FETCO brewers, Rancilio espresso machine, and Mazzer grinders.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
End of July.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Yes!!! When you partner with folks on a project like this, you’re working with everyone to create a space that reflects you and your coffee. Their work gives you the identity and look that customers associate with you. We consider ourselves very lucky to work with the following folks:
M1/DTW design: our architects out of Detroit. They created just an inspirational concept!
Pioneer Construction/Tailored Building Systems: Scott Olsen is our project manager and he has gone above and beyond every step of the way!
Other AMAZING local vendors: Bret Sanford at Sanford Plumbing, Jeff Roodbergen who makes our extensive electrical needs happen, Levi Haley who does all our beautiful tile work, Burkett Signs for all our external signage, Kalamazoo Mechanical for HVAC/heating, and Ian Nielsen for carpentry.
And, most importantly, our in-house Creative Director, Kirsten Field, who makes everything beautiful, unique and functional for us.