Ferris Coffee diversifies with beer, wine

Alcoholic beverages exclusively offered at downtown café.
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For being a coffee roaster, Ferris Coffee & Nut Co. has made a deep dive into the craft beverage industry this year. The company began diversifying its offerings by serving beer and wine at its café on 40 Pearl St. SW, Grand Rapids, earlier this year.

For the Pearl Street café, Ferris always has had the dream of introducing other craft beverages, said Ferris Marketing Director Cassandra Beach.

“The is a really bustling area in the morning,” she said, “so we wanted to add some fun activation or incentive for people to keep enjoying the space after that normal coffee hour.”

With new developments like the Warner Tower office building and Hyatt Place Hotel across the street coming to life, Ferris on Pearl Street is excited to be a part of the renewed activity in the area and being more inviting to working professionals.

“This is a pretty professional space, and we wanted to be appealing to people who want to meet up for a drink professionally or even just casually, like not in a bar kind of scene,” Beach said.

Evan Groendyk, director of retail for Ferris, added the café is an inviting place for people in a group who want to meet but may choose not to drink alcohol.

“If you’re in a business meeting with a large group of colleagues, and some choose to drink alcohol and others do not, it’s a safe place to not feel alienated,” he said.

Head Barista Dan Shoup curates Ferris’ wine list. The list features old-world wines to distinguish Ferris from the local wine market.

While not a licensed sommelier, Shoup had learned to distinguish quality craft beverages via his role as a barista, and Ferris was happy to encourage his passion for wine if it meant helping the company select quality wines.

“He does regular trainings, and it’s been one of his ambitions to get more into wine, so it was our opportunity to say, ‘We can help you get this going with this part of your dream, so take a stab at it,’” Beach said. “I’d say with craft beverages, in general, you have more of an acute palate.”

The company also has a network of craft beer partners, including Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, to offer a rotating list of craft beverages. Additionally, Ferris sources its own coffee to these companies for specialty brews.

Recently, Founders released Underground Mountain Brown as part of its 2019 Barrel-Aged Series. Ferris roasted the Sumatra coffee used in the brewing process.

Founders also re-released Pale Joe this year as part of its taproom-only Mothership Series. This beer also features Ferris-roasted Ethiopian coffee.

Happy Hour at Ferris is 5-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. There are day-specific specials like “$2 Tuesday,” where all whole-bean coffees are $2 off, $3 pour over on Thursdays and a mimosa bar on Saturdays.

“We selected a champagne that pairs really well with good juice, so our mimosas are really tasty and not just well champagne,” Groendyk said.

The Pearl Street café also offers charcuterie boards, toast, fruit nut parfaits, seasonal oatmeal and other snack products.

Coffee still is the star of the show at Ferris, Beach assured. While craft beer and wine are a great complement to what it offers, Ferris Coffee is not changing its name.

At press time, Ferris did not disclose any expansion plans to offer alcoholic beverages at any other location.

“With this location, we had been waiting patiently for the right time to introduce our beer and wine menu, and we feel like, with the completion of the hotel and office spaces next door, we felt like it was the perfect time to launch,” Groendyk said.

Beach added each Ferris location has unique elements curated to the community it’s in, and the company found beer and wine is particularly conducive to downtown.

“Holland has an artist market, which is great to engage with that lakeshore community,” Beach said. “Our West Side location, it’s very student-heavy, not as much business professionals.”

This article first appeared in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, a sister publication of Grand Rapids Magazine.

Photo: Courtesy Ferris Coffee & Nut Co.

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