Kaffeine jolt

New coffee shop opens on Medical Mile.
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Korean-inspired and female-owned Kaffeine Place recently opened along the iconic “Medical Mile.” The trendy café, at 637 Michigan St. NE, specializes in coffee drinks as well as breakfast and lunch items and hopes to become a regular morning stop for commuters heading into downtown and an afternoon destination for those needing a caffeine jolt.

Sun Lee Photo by Bryan Esler

Sun Lee, the owner of Kaffeine Place, opened her café in October 2020 with the goal of offering a local café in one of the busiest sectors of downtown — where residents can enjoy its famous boba milk tea and have a memorable experience.

Lee, a native of Korea, wanted to intertwine aspects of Korean cafés with American undertones to create the ideal ambiance. “In Korea, people love eating food with their eyes first. I think that it is especially important when the food is first served — for it to look appetizing, beautiful and inviting,” she said. So, you can expect the food and beverages served at Kaffeine Place to not only taste good but look good, too.

Lee’s journey to opening her own café has included years of study and travel. “The first time I studied coffee was in 2013 at Ivy League Barista Academy in California. At that time, I had no idea where and how to approach the coffee industry. ILBA was where I first became a barista,” Lee said.

Soon after, she took classes to study espresso roasts and latte art in both Chicago and Seattle. Then she took her newfound knowledge home and observed cafés in Korea to advance her ideas and hone her skills.

Lee couples her education with a unique flavor profile, setting her café apart. Kaffeine Place has incorporated many complementary and unique flavors into its recipes. The brown sugar latte is one of its most popular beverages, offering a flavorful, creamy caramel sweetness, while the masala chai and turmeric ginger lattes have a mix of sweetness and spice with powerful immune-system boosters.

Kaffeine Place is a wonderful pitstop for an afternoon walk or a quick coffee run for those mornings where you just can’t seem to wake up.

This story can be found in the March 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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