The Book Club Cafe switched their coffee and tea products from Water Street to Kalamazoo Coffee Co. on Monday, April 27. To announce the change, the two bearded owners of Kalamazoo Coffee entered the Welles Dining Hall with push pots and Chemex coffee makers in last week to allow sampling.
Kalamazoo Coffee Co. owners Garrett Krugh and Darren Bain, who use their Black Owl Café as their coffee hub, were excited for this change, as well as their recent award for being named “Michigan’s Best Coffee Shop” by MLive last month.
The switch began shortly after Spring Quarter started when Director and Executive Chef of Kalamazoo College Creative Dining Services James Chantanasombut and Book Club Manager Kelly Kribs met with both Krugh and Bain about three weeks ago.
Kalamazoo Coffee Co.’s prices were difficult to match, and their specialities with flavored coffee also made them a great contender—especially for seasonal coffees, which Water Street does not specialize as much.
There are no contracts with independent coffee shops, which allowed Creative Dining to switch over so quickly. Though Creative Dining will be cutting costs, the price for coffee in the Book Club will remain the same for the rest of the academic year.
The money saved by switching will go directly into Creative Dining’s other programs, Chantanasombut said. Creative Dining is trying to keep their foods local, which helps to keep costs down. Recent efforts include buying vegetables, such as spinach and romaine lettuce, from local farms Crisp Country Acres and Understory Farm.
Kelly Kribs said she’s “not a huge flavored coffee person,” but she enjoys the Kalamazoo Coffee’s seasonal twists, like their hazelnut blend. Chantanasombut echoed this, saying they emphasize “coffee first, flavor second.”
Bain grinds real nuts for their flavored coffees, and he designed the art on their coffee bags. His attention to detail, coupled with Krugh’s knowledge, easily convinced Creative Dining to switch.
While Chantanasombut and Kribs were impressed with the coffee, their main concern is how students will react to the change.
Krugh’s and Bain’s sampling in the cafeteria was received positively. David Demerest ‘17 said, “I’m not too critical of coffee, but it’s pretty good. Better than most coffee I’ve had, and I like it more than Water Street.”
Owner Garrett Krugh said that, “there are a lot of people [at K] who have never heard of us,” but he hopes the Book Club Cafe’s switch will make them more well known.