“Coffee is a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your older self.”
― Terry Pratchett, Thud!
The Hoppy Half-Pint’s been on a bit of a hiatus lately, and I’m a little sorry for that. But I’ve been gathering lots of great material, so in the long run, you reader-types should benefit from the break.
Michigan is known for a few things, including its natural beauty. The state probably doesn’t want to be known for the awful quality of its pavement, but the harsh winters in the region make road tripping hazardous to tires, prompting me to cringe every time I go over a rough patch or pothole. Which is frequent. Michigan is also home to Coast Guard City USA, otherwise known as Grand Haven.
Sandwiched between two of those vast land-locked freshwater seas known as the Great Lakes, the state is chilly for a decent portion of the year, which might contribute to its citizens’ appreciation for craft beer. And, apparently, coffee.
Writer needs coffee
Boasting a little over 26,000 citizens, Mt. Pleasant, MI is not a large town. But it has at least four legit coffee shops. An article published on them last year and a desire to write in an inspiring environment while sipping an excellent cup of coffee, lead me to The Coffee Room, in downtown Mt. Pleasant.
When I walk in, the rustic industrial space is abuzz with the hum of caffeine-fueled conversation and the particular type of quiet intensity found in coffee shops everywhere.
Christie and Aaron Cromar roast their own coffee, under the label Narrativality. They started about two years ago, in a “licensed home studio”, and pouring their coffee at the farmers’ market in Midland. They opened The Coffee Room last November, and business seems steady.
I deposit myself on the bench in front of the counter, the better to pester Christie, and order a cup of Ethiopian Tegagn Ocholo, brewed in a Kalita pour over pot, with water dispensed from a Monarch Methods copper kettle. Variations on the pour over method are quite popular in coffee bars, which I’m sure, has at least as much to do with the artistic, almost ritual-like experience, as it does the flavor it produces.
But how does it taste?
According to the notes on the board, the coffee Christie serves me has a “sugary, lime, dry, deep” character. The color is a lovely, deep amber, like the darkest of the maple syrup that the nearby village of Shepherd is famous for. Enough to host a Maple Syrup Festival, anyway.
The Ethiopian Tegagn Ocholo possesses a clean, bright acidity, with chocolate notes in the aroma. I don’t pick up any lime at first, but after more sips, I detect a hint of citrus up front. The finish is dry.
Where’s it come from?
Narrativality doesn’t direct source from farmers; they work with a specialty importer with hundreds of contacts throughout the coffee growing world. “We only source traceable coffees, with a clear connection to farmers, co-ops…” Christie tells me.
Like any agricultural product, the coffee harvest varies by
region, a fact that is reflected in Narrativality’s offerings. Fresh beans are starting to come in from Africa now, and if memory serves, they’ll be followed by some South and Central American varieties. They’ll also get some flag crops–typically small crops planted right after the main harvest, to take advantage of the end of the growing season.
I appreciate Christie’s calm, friendly manner, and her obvious enjoyment of her craft. The Cromars have recently expanded their business hours; The Coffee Room is now open until 5pm most evenings. Starting this month, they’ll be pouring again at the farmers’ market in Midland. Narrativality single origin beans and signature blends are also available through their webstore at narrativality.com.
Priest, Kimberly Ann. “Local Roasters Open The Coffee Room” Central Michigan Pulse, November 19, 2015, 20-21.
“Quotes About Coffee.” Goodreads.com. Accessed May 07, 2016.