Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty-one Years of Service to the Student

Downtown Kalamazoo

Never Beaned Out

Kalamazoo's Fourth Coast Cafe treats visitors to coffee and food [Amelia Donohoe / The Index]. Kalamazoo's Fourth Coast Cafe treats visitors to coffee and food [Amelia Donohoe / The Index].

Even while bantering about the apparent ungodly cost of owning an aquarium, the baristas at Fourth Coast Cafe brew a good cup.

Whether you are after a specialty espresso drink to keep you up, tea to wind down, or hot chocolate just because, it will be made for you efficiently and with upbeat Indie rock pulsing in the background.

For those who sit rather than dash, there is a sense that every customer in the room is hard at work on something. Laptops abound, notes are penciled into journals, and headphones seem to push these people, many of whom are college students, to do the impossible.

Therefore no one notices or judges you when, for instance, you decide to shake a bottle of one of the many flavors of Kombucha sold and it overflows onto the table and you. Not that this has ever happened to anyone, but you know, just an example. The atmosphere is relaxed.

Pieces from local artists and photographers hang against walls painted aqua and avocado, contrasting nicely with the exposed brick on the opposite side of the café. The shop has an industrial loft air, and you feel rather cultured based on the decision to come here, knowing your hipster cousin in Brooklyn would be very proud.

Dessert enthusiasts will also find a haven at Fourth Coast, by way of cookies, cheesecake-flavored muffins, brownies, and peanut butter bars rivaling anything Reese’s could drum up. Specialty milkshake flavors like chocolate-coconut are impossible to simply order once.

As if the quality of service, food, and drink isn’t enough, Fourth Coast sits directly beneath the famous Crow’s Nest restaurant, a Kalamazoo fixture on South Westnedge Avenue. Only a 5-minute drive from K’s campus, it is also walkable, the 26 minutes easy with the promise of perusing the new fall menu or sampling fresh baked bread.

It appears that most of the customers are regulars, knowing exactly what they want and catching up with the employees while they wait. A man in line for his drink is conscripted to be the first to try homemade spearmint simple syrup by the barista. They both laugh at his “guinea pig” status, in a way that makes you believe this quirkiness is a genuine, consistent facet of the Fourth Coast experience.

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Never Beaned Out