Give back with every sip!

When you sign up for Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards, you earn three reward points for every dollar you spend at any of our café locations. These points can be redeemed for discounts, OR you can choose to donate a portion directly to our Featured Charity. From October through December, our Featured Charity is West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders.

In 1994, Borgess Health Alliance and Bronson Healthcare Group opened the doors of West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders (WMCC). This fulfilled the hospitals’ joint vision to provide a cutting edge treatment facility for the community. The new center immediately made a positive difference in the health and lives of area residents and the collaboration ensured that the best treatment capabilities.

“Our vision,” says Anne Witherspoon, Developmental Director, “is to deliver exceptional, comprehensive and integrated care to patients throughout the region.” On average, WMCC sees 4,000 new patients each year. In addition, approximately 500 patients walk through the doors of the downtown Kalamazoo facility every day.

In the 25th year of service, WMCC has gone through many advancements to provide the best possible cancer and hematology care to the patients in this community. Currently, more than 90% of individuals diagnosed with cancer in the region receive their treatment at WMCC.

This summer, WMCC partnered with the Kalamazoo Growlers to have a “Strike Out Cancer Night” where thousands of their patients were treated to a free night at the ballpark. WMCC and the Growlers anticipate holding this event again in 2020.

Water Street is proud to support West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders and hopes you can help us in this effort.

Supporting charities throughout Kalamazoo county

Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards program began in 2018 and features a new charity each quarter. With the help of our customers, we’ve been able to support the important work being done in our community by the following non-profit organizations:

Check out our Giving page to learn how your organization can apply to be considered as our next Loyalty Rewards Featured Charity.

 

 

Loyalty Rewards WMCC

Give back with every sip!

When you sign up for Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards, you earn three reward points for every dollar you spend at any of our café locations. These points can be redeemed for discounts, OR you can choose to donate a portion directly to our Featured Charity. From October through December, our Featured Charity is West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders.

In 1994, Borgess Health Alliance and Bronson Healthcare Group opened the doors of West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders (WMCC). This fulfilled the hospitals’ joint vision to provide a cutting edge treatment facility for the community. The new center immediately made a positive difference in the health and lives of area residents and the collaboration ensured that the best treatment capabilities.

“Our vision,” says Anne Witherspoon, Developmental Director, “is to deliver exceptional, comprehensive and integrated care to patients throughout the region.” On average, WMCC sees 4,000 new patients each year. In addition, approximately 500 patients walk through the doors of the downtown Kalamazoo facility every day.

In the 25th year of service, WMCC has gone through many advancements to provide the best possible cancer and hematology care to the patients in this community. Currently, more than 90% of individuals diagnosed with cancer in the region receive their treatment at WMCC.

This summer, WMCC partnered with the Kalamazoo Growlers to have a “Strike Out Cancer Night” where thousands of their patients were treated to a free night at the ballpark. WMCC and the Growlers anticipate holding this event again in 2020.

Water Street is proud to support West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders and hopes you can help us in this effort.

Supporting charities throughout Kalamazoo county

Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards program began in 2018 and features a new charity each quarter. With the help of our customers, we’ve been able to support the important work being done in our community by the following non-profit organizations:

Check out our Giving page to learn how your organization can apply to be considered as our next Loyalty Rewards Featured Charity.

 

 

 

Farmer's Market

Check out our list of local produce and farms!

Crisp Country Acres – Holland, MI

Great Lakes Potato Chips – Traverse City, MI

Harrison Pickle Company – Kalamazoo, MI

Jack and Jill’s Maple Farm – Paw Paw, MI

Michigan Egg – Kalamazoo, MI

The Old Home Place- LaGrange, IN

Shades of Lavender- Mattawan, MI

Silverbeet – Bangor, MI

Read more about Silverbeet!

2019 Costa Rica Origin Trip

By Seth Chapman (Roast Master)

Once again, on Water Street’s behalf, I set out for the coffeelands of Costa Rica, this time to expand and strengthen my relationships with both the coffee and the producers who put so much love and attention into their crop. This was my second time visiting, although this year’s visit began a few weeks earlier in the year which would allow me to experience some things I had not in years past, such as a wet mill in operation and parts of some coffee farms with trees still loaded with coffee cherries. The trip was full of adventure, friendships both new and old, and plenty of opportunity to dive in and immerse myself in all the details and subtleties of Costa Rican coffee, including how the harvest is going this year, what varieties and coffee processing methods are favored by each producer, what this year’s coffees are tasting like and what scores they are achieving, one-on-one time with roasters and coffee producers, and of course, cuppings of coffee from a handful of Costa Rica’s finest producers.

Video by Josiah Holroyd

Although I visited West Valley and Tarrazu, two of Costa Rica’s growing regions, the theme of lower yields is country-wide. This is not unexpected, though. The Arabica coffee plant, coffea arabica, goes through natural cycles of production where every two years there is an increase in production, followed by lower yields the next season. The 2018/2019 crop was one of more modest proportions, down about 20%, but that does not mean a decrease in quality. In fact, quality can be increased during low production years as the plant puts its nutrients into fewer cherries, allowing them to mature with more full, bigger flavor. During my time there I cupped 34 different coffees. A rather wide range of coffees were evaluated, some great for blending, others superb examples of the full potential of Costa Rican coffee. I visited a number of farms and producers during the week of March 3, 2019, as well as Cafe Imports’ new office located in the capitol of San Jose. What I found interesting is that each producer and each farm is, in essence, working toward the same goal: producing quality coffee for export. That being said, there are so many steps and opportunities along the way for each producer to implement their own techniques and practices that they employ on their farm which they believe will result in the best coffee they can produce. This yields more income, a healthier and happier life for both the producers and the surrounding environment, and more freedom to continue to excel, experiment and explore.

Tarrazú, Costa Rica

Edgar and Martin of El Pilon and La Chumeca instantly recognized me as I arrived at their farm, and approached me with open arms. The amount of appreciation and level of genuine care they show toward myself and others in the group is palpable. They are truly happy to share their work with others and take you in as one of their own. They also strongly believe in producing naturally processed coffee. So much so that they utilize the process for 100% of their crop. This process uses much less water than other processing methods, and is what makes their setup so simple and effective. This time around was fun because not only did I get to witness the process firsthand, but I was actually asked to help! The two are also heavily experimenting with alternative processing methods such as anaerobic fermentation and extended drying times.

Carlos, Anna, and their son Gabriel run La Pira de Dota in Costa Rica’s Tarrazu region. They are serious about coffee, but are always smiling and poking fun at each other, keeping the mood light and joyful. Their approach to coffee processing involves farming without any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, controlling pests naturally. Carlos utilizes local microorganisms to create a liquid fertilizer that can be applied to coffee plants to control pests and accelerate growth. The solution is an environmentally friendly alternative to agrochemicals, reducing environmental contamination, production costs, and improving social relations in the farming community.

I also spent some time with Daniela Guttirez of La Montana de Tarrazu, and Marcia and Hugo Naranjo of La Candelilla. Truly inspirational producers. Cupping and evaluation of coffees happened at Oxcart Coffee, an extension of Cafe Imports, based in San Jose. This trip would not have been possible without my coffee family there, in particular Matt, Francine, and Luis. Their new Oxcart office greatly increases their presence in Costa Rica, and also serves as a “place to process and evaluate samples, meet with producers, and file all the necessary paperwork involved in shipping green coffee internationally, but it also gives us a hummingbird’s-eye view of the year’s crop and the producers’ triumphs and tribulations all year long.” Being able to take part in this year’s evaluation of coffees is an honor, and also gives me the opportunity to book or purchase coffee on the spot. A truly humbling opportunity.

West Valley, Costa Rica

La Perla del Cafe, located in Costa Rica’s West Valley, is operated by Don Carlos, a third-generation producer. Carlos strongly believes in maintaining a pure line of coffee variety so as not to mix varietals, and thus flavor and coffee characteristics. He does this by paying close attention to pruning and plot renovation, and not wasting time with old coffee plants. Carlos draws the analogy of production between coffee plants and cows; calves are much better producers of milk than an old cow, and the same applies to coffee plants.

Perhaps the crowning jewel was my return and reuniting with the Aguilera Brothers. I am greeted by Felipe and Juan, two of the brothers. Instantly Felipe recognized me from last year’s trip, and he gave me a big thumbs up and a big, friendly smile. Felipe speaks a little bit of English, so I was able to chat with him for a bit. He showed me his new coffee roaster that he acquired a few months back, and explained how he roasts coffee for his neighbors and sells it at a local market. Before departing I presented him with a bag of his coffee from Finca Angelina that Water Street purchased and roasted from last harvest. The highest quality green coffee is sold for export, so it isn’t often that the Aguilera Brothers are able to drink their own coffee. This makes for a very special opportunity. Bringing things full circle for both roaster and producer is a beautiful and unique experience, and I am happy to give back.

This is our fourth consecutive year working with the Aguilera brothers. Cupping out the coffees from the farms we visited and engaging in impactful conversations with fellow coffee industry professionals and the producers themselves brings things full circle, and makes real relationships evolve and grow. It is truly how we make our decision in purchasing our Costa Rican coffee for our special Fresh Crop program. It is our goal to serve these coffees to you in the most honest, transparent fun way, so you can get as authentic an experience as I did in Costa Rica, right here in Kalamazoo.

Visit the Shop for Costa Rica Honey Finca Angelina

To read about Costa Rica Origin Trip from 2018, CLICK HERE.

 

Give back with every sip!

When you sign up for Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards, you earn three reward points for every dollar you spend at any of our café locations. These points can be redeemed for discounts, OR you can choose to donate a portion directly to our Featured Charity. From July through September, our Featured Charity is Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Council (KCAN).

Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Council (KCAN) started in March 1976 by volunteers from the Service Club (now Junior League of Kalamazoo). The council was formed in response to the concern of many agencies within the county about the issues of child abuse and neglect. Their mission is “to educate and advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect and prevent child abuse before it happens.”

KCAN provides a variety of community and educational programs, including sexual abuse prevention programs for young children and specialized training to teach professionals who work with children how to identify and report child abuse and neglect. Other programs include public awareness campaigns, special events/outreach activities and partnering with local and state government officials to advocate for child safety policies and more.

Every year, KCAN invites people and businesses interested in child safety to their largest annual fundraiser, the Super Hero 5k Fun Run/Walk. This event is fun for avid runners and casual walkers! Plus, 100% of the proceeds stay in Kalamazoo County to help educate children and mandated reporters on helping keep kids safe.

Water Street is extremely happy to support the amazing work of KCAN. Our hope is that you can join us in supporting this effort.

Supporting charities throughout Kalamazoo county

Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards program began in 2018 and features a new charity each quarter. With the help of our customers, we’ve been able to support the important work being done in our community by the following non-profit organizations:

Check out our Giving page to learn how your organization can apply to be considered as our next Loyalty Rewards Featured Charity.

We’re rekindling Willard’s Old Flame with a refreshed rendition of this popular spring and summer blend. Once earthy with a heavier profile, the new blend yields a very light, balanced and bright coffee. Beans from Brazil, Ethiopia and Costa Rica lend a chocolate and fruity aroma, paired with complex flavors of red fruit and nougat.

Willard’s Old Flame was first roasted in 2001 to honor our craft and the rich history of our roasting facility. Roasting the coffee helped to reignite the flame that had been part of the building since 1890. Built as a machine shop, it housed the Verdon Cigar Factory from 1900-08, then Bowers Lighter Co. until the mid-70s.

We’re proud to pay homage to this history and keep Willard’s flame burning bright!

The Bowers Machine Company building circa 1980-90s. Current location of Water Street’s roasting facility.

 

 

 

 

Giving back with every sip!

Loyalty Rewards Support Girls on the Run. When you sign up for Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards, you earn three reward points for every dollar you spend at any of our Café locations. These points can be redeemed for discounts, OR you can choose to donate a portion directly to our Featured Charity. With your help, we raised $1,329 for Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo.

Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo

Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo is an independent council of Girls on the Run International. It was founded in 1996 by Molly Barker a visionary and Ironman triathlete. Their mission is “to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo (GOTRGK) was founded in 2001 by Kalamazoo community leaders committed to the health and well-being of our area’s youth.

“In our 17 years, Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo has served more than 30,000 girls thanks to the generosity of donors and sponsors like Water Street Coffee,” shared Melisa Beeson, Executive Director of Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo.

GOTRGK has grown from serving 350 girls in 2002, to more than 1,400 in 2018. For their upcoming 17th season, the program for girls in 3rd through 5th grades will be offered at more than 50 schools and community organizations with a presence in the greater Kalamazoo County area. They remain one of the largest councils of over 220 Girls on the Run councils in the country.

Melisa added, “Girls continued to face social pressures and conflicting messages about how they should act and who they should be. Studies show that by adolescence, girls’ confidence drops about twice as much as boys’. At Girls on the Run we inspire girls to recognize their inner strength and celebrate what makes them one of a kind through our research-based curricula.”

Water Street is extremely happy to support the amazing work of Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo and hopes you can help us in this effort.

Supporting charities throughout Kalamazoo county

Water Street’s Loyalty Rewards program began in 2018. It features a new charity each quarter. With the help of our customers, we’ve been able to support the important work being done in our community by the following non-profit organizations:

Check out our Giving page to learn how your organization can apply to be considered as our next Loyalty Rewards Featured Charity. 

 

Sitting down for a coffee, you can almost feel the presence of those who’ve passed through Water Street over the years. Every subtle ding, scratch or scuff mark adds to the patina of the furniture and holds its own story. Working with our old friend and Master Woodworker Rob Chamberlin, newly-crafted furniture in the salon at our Oakland Café is now ready for a whole new era of stories.

Decades in the making

While the furniture only took a few months to design and build, the story began many years ago when our paths crossed with Rob. In 1993, we opened our original Coffee Joint at the intersection of Water Street and East Kalamazoo Avenue, and that part of town was quickly becoming an epicenter for commerce. Rob was often drawn to this part of town and shared, “Energetically, there’s something really special about this little part of town.” Many mornings he found himself meeting up with coworkers for a coffee before heading off to a job, and over the years he made a network of lifelong friends while visiting Water Street.

Fast forward a decade or two, and Rob was sharing shop space in the building behind our downtown location with local carpentry and bluegrass legends Rock Bartley and Scott Spink. While it created great synergy for working together, he found himself needing a place to call his own. After eyeing a vacant spot in the same building that was connected to his current space, he decided to pack up his tools and set up shop next door to his friends.

Rob’s new home was in the very same location where Water Street first started roasting coffee. Many remnants from the early days could still be found in the space. The color scheme on the walls matched that of our cafés, and you could even see the patched-up hole in the wall where the smokestack for the roaster once vented. Today, if you glance at Rob’s workbench, you’ll find an aged photo of Mark Smutek, our owner and president, roasting coffee right where the bench now sits.

It’s all in the details

With all of the shared history, there was no lack of inspiration while crafting the furniture for our Oakland Café salon. Rob had made the nesting stool tables for our Portage Café and the conference table that lives at our Roasting Facility. While there is a cohesion that emanates across all of our locations, each has its own distinct identity; and it was important to reflect this in the furniture. Working closely with our Creative Director Kirsten Field, who has been with Water Street throughout much of our journey, Rob and his Collaborator Kate Wilke thought through every detail of the furniture.

The wood they chose was ash. It has many characteristics that not only make it aesthetically pleasing, but also a good sturdy wood for constructing furniture. It’s lighter color complemented the room and would help to brighten things up. Ash was also an eco-friendly choice, as the market is flooded with the wood right now. Even more, using it in the furniture was doing our small piece to preserve the wood. With ash trees being decimated by the emerald ash borer, it’s likely these trees won’t be around for future generations.

Just like roasting brings out the character in a coffee bean, the proper finish can bring out the character of the wood. A plant-based oil and wax sealer from the German company Osmo was used to finish the wood, giving it a pleasant feel and appearance. Using a similar process that was common 100 years ago, it is not only environmentally conscious, but also food safe and easy to renew.

Determining the design of the furniture involved just as much thought. Rob commented on the process, “It’s not just how things are made, but I like to think about why we are making these things. What’s the purpose?” The end result was a simple and sturdy, yet stylish design that fit the flow of the room. Exposed joinery yielded an honest, durable look, with a softened slope to the arm for resting comfort. While the wood provides the base, we can’t overlook the upholstery. After all, what’s a good chair without a good cushion? Our friends at Vanderberg Upholstery, who we’ve worked with for many years, helped make cushions that were both comfortable and durable for standing up to the riggers of a coffee shop.

The end result is loungey, while still allowing for people to be able to eat, drink, work, and socialize comfortably. Rob shared, “At the end of the day, I think of it this way. Everything that I do, I try to make sure that it creates joy.” We couldn’t agree more and hope that the new addition to our Oakland salon brings joy to many, along with countless new stories.

We’ve enlisted the help of our loyal customers to help support local charities, providing non-profits with an outlet to raise money and spread awareness for their cause. With every dollar a Water Street Loyalty Reward member spends, they earn points that they can redeem for discounts or donate directly to our featured non-profit.

The program was introduced in 2018 and with the help of our customers we raised $1,196 for Bronson Children’s Hospital. To give a variety of non-profits the opportunity to participate, we’ll be featuring a new charity each quarter, for a total of four each year. The current featured charity for the first quarter of 2019 is Can-Do Kitchen, a local food business incubator who helps food entrepreneurs through the struggles of starting a new business.

“Our Loyalty Rewards is more than just a discount program. It’s an opportunity for us to partner with our loyal customers to give back to our community,” says owner Mark Smutek.

Water Street still has three featured spots to fill for 2019 and is currently accepting applications from non-profit organizations located in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Applications will be evaluated on overall impact within the community. The program is not open to organizations who have exclusive membership, including athletic teams, religious institutions and political parties. To be considered, an official representative of your organization must complete the application on our Giving page by no later than February 28, 2019.

Give back a little with every sip!

When you sign up for our Water Street Loyalty Rewards, you earn three rewards points for every dollar you spend at any of our Café locations. These points can be redeemed for discounts, OR you can choose to donate a portion directly to our quarterly Featured Charity. With your help, we raised $945 for Can-Do Kitchen, our first Featured Charity of 2019.

Can-Do Kitchen helps food entrepreneurs on their journey

When Water Street opened in 1993, our owner, Mark Smutek, was the only employee for months. He did everything himself and learned along the way. He knows the daily struggles and triumphs of being an entrepreneur in the food industry.

Can-Do Kitchen is supporting many new food entrepreneurs through these struggles and helping to take some of the stress out of the process of starting a new business. Since 2008, they have been providing commercial kitchen space, food business incubation and workshops to entrepreneurs.

“We’re here to collaborate with food entrepreneurs in creating businesses that will have long-lasting positive impacts on families and the community overall,” shared Lucy Dilley, Executive Director of Can-Do Kitchen.

Can-Do helps layout a roadmap and supports entrepreneurs in developing reasonable goals. With their understanding of the regulations entrepreneurs will face, they are there to provide support along the way. Can-Do Camp, startup support meetings, resource guides, connections in the industry, food safety guidance – this is how they support food entrepreneurs in our community.

Lucy added, “Our commercial kitchen and our incubation services go hand-in-hand when it comes to supporting food businesses.”

Water Street is extremely happy to support the amazing work of Can-Do Kitchen and hopes you can help us in this effort.

Supporting charities throughout the Kalamazoo county area

The program began in 2018 and with the help of our customers we were able to raise $1,196 to donate to Bronson Children’s Hospital. Check out our Giving page to learn how your organization can apply to be considered as our next Loyalty Rewards recipient.