New facility expands local coffee roasting industry, creates opportunities for growth and investment in Grand Rapids’ Westside.
Continuing its expansion into Grand Rapids’ Westside, Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand recently announced plans for its first coffee roasting facility, which will be part of Sparrows’ second location at 442 Bridge St. when it opens this summer.
“The decision to start roasting our own coffee was out of our commitment to providing our customers with high-quality coffee,” said Sparrows owner Lori Slager Wenzel. “Our new roastery will allow us to supply both Sparrows locations, expand to wholesale accounts and educate the community about specialty coffee.”
Sparrows will begin roasting this summer and will source green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s, Red Fox Coffee Merchants and La Bodega, among others. Sparrows has plans to offer a variety of unique roasts from Central and South America to Ethiopia and Kenya.
Julia Lancer, general manager and director of coffee at Sparrows, will oversee Sparrows’ new roasting program. Lancer joined Sparrows in 2016 after moving to Grand Rapids from northern California. She brings more than 15 years of experience working in California’s coffee industry at top coffee roasters including RoastCo Specialty Coffee Roasters, Ritual Coffee Roaster and Flying Goat Coffee.
“I have been awarded the opportunity to build the roastery of my dreams,” Lancer said. “I plan to create an environment that is incredibly approachable, where everyone feels welcome. I am working on finding new ways to think about flavors and their perception that is fun and inviting for our community.”
“Julia has years of industry experience under her belt and is still eager to learn more,” said Lily Curtis-Harris, Merchandise Manager/Subscription Roaster for California-based Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee and Home Roasting. “She has sincere enthusiasm, and is smart and great at what she does, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and in my opinion, that’s very important.”
Sparrows announced its new Westside location in April, as a part of their 10-year anniversary of their Wealthy Street location. The 1000-square-foot building will accommodate up to 49 people. Building renovations and installation of a Diedrich IR-7 roaster are expected to be completed this summer. The new location will also offer coffee cupping, otherwise known as coffee tasting, so people can learn more about different coffee tastes and aromas.
Sparrows is currently accepting wholesale orders and will be launching a new mug club early next week.
To stay up-to-date on the latest developments roasting at Sparrows, visit thesparrowsgr.com.