Downtown Dates: Fourth Coast Cafe

So, I know it’s not necessarily downtown, but it’s close enough to get to if you are in the downtown area. It is my favorite place to come for coffee and wireless, and has such a relaxing atmosphere that I find myself sitting there for hours.

I was hesitant to go at first. I had visited Fourth Coast Cafe (on Westnedge across from Crazy Monkey — formerly Asylum Tattoo and Piercing — and under Crow’s Nest, also known as the best breakfast in town with plenty of vegan and veg choices as well as satisfying meat-lovers dishes) when I was a freshman. My friend, Naidra, and I would travel to the place at 3 a.m., grab coffee downstairs and then find a nook upstairs to pretend to study in. Really we were just laughing, playing online and doodling in our notebooks. Bad students, I know.

I didn’t like the coffee and I thought the place was a little dirty. Years later, I realize that I didn’t like real coffee back then at all. Now I really enjoy their drinks. My favorite is the Honey Almond Cap with whole milk.

And they aren’t dirty. I just wasn’t used to the crowd of people the place attracts: College students, grundge, construction workers, locks-wearing peace lovers, artist, PFLAG-ers, grad assistants, grocery store clerks, money makers with a dark nightlife, from the hood change-makers, etc. Had I looked in the mirror in my early college years, I would have seen that I was like a lot of those people and have grown to be all of them.

I feel at peace in the place. Everyone is friendly, never snooty. It isn’t Starbucks (not knocking it, but you know), and that’s what works best for this cafe.

The music is great. They play a wide range and especially give local artist a lot of play. The morning I wrote this post, they were playing “Duende” by Fiona Dickinson, one of Kalamazoo’s most talented artist. They also have her album for sale, as well as other local artists, including my fav Meagan Dooley. Typically in a cafe, I plug in my headphones to hear my own tunes, but there music selection is soothing and really helps you zone. If I stay off of Facebook, I get a lot done sitting in that cafe.

The best part is the wireless. It’s fast, and you don’t have to bug the barrista about what the password is since the network isn’t locked. But what about battery life on your computer? My HP Pavilion Entertainment PC has turned into an annoying, slow-running desktop with the battery life ranging from 30 minutes to 10 seconds, depending on how it’s feeling that day. There are plugs near every table, booths with multiple outlets so a group of friends can all plug in, a coffee bar with sockets at ever other stool and another bar by the blocked entrance with sockets at every other chair.

They know the way to a girl’s heart!

The only thing I don’t like is the bathroom (and I can only speak for the ladies’ room, but one day I’ll sneak in to see the mysterious urinals). It’s not so much dirty as it is in need of renovation. There are scuff marks, a less than sightly toilet and an extremely small sink. It is large enough to be wheelchair accessible, though. It’s not unbearable. If I have to pee, I use it. But if I were driving down the street in need of a place to leak, it wouldn’t be my first or second or third choice. It’s a place of necessity.

Other than that, I love this place. And, I don’t think it ever closes, except for holidays. Check it out and let me know what you think. Or stop by and say hi. I am normally marked there Monday and Tuesday mornings.


Shawntai Brown was born with a silver pen. Not really, but her entire life centers around writing. She currently is a copy editor for Booth Newspapers, a playwright (support the eLLe series) and a blogger. Born in 1986, she is a second eldest of four children. She was raised in Detroit under the shelter and protective parenting of her mother (who died when Shawntai was young) and father on the west side. She attended Cass Tech High School and was a participant in City-wide Poets throughout high school. She also did acting. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in creative writing and experience in journalism and Spanish. Having worked for the school paper, she was able to score an internship with the Kalamazoo Gazette right out of college, which then led her to the Grand Rapids Press. Her intern's wages and wonderful co-signer/grandfather afforded her the luxury of living in the plush accommodations of Paragon Properties. And thus the story of this young professional continues. ... 


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