After opening its doors in the spring of 2018, the Outside Coffee Co. has been a fan-favorite of many Grand Rapids coffee fanatics for about a year and a half now. So, I decided to go and see what the craze was about.
While driving through the hip, Grand Rapids suburb “Eastown,” the shop instantly caught my eye. The reason for its uniqueness was that it is run from a large, blue truck rather than a building and has various outdoor seating.
As I walked up, the cute decor and furniture drew my attention. There were festive Christmas lights throughout the property, along with hanging hammocks and high top barstools and tables. Most importantly, a few plastic igloos scattered throughout the area—with heat and seating inside—were the icing on the cake of a lovely, open-air display.
Furthermore, the teal food truck at the back of the area had a retro vibe that tied together the aesthetic of the outdoor shop. This is where you order and pick up your drinks. The employees are friendly and sociable, making the process more enjoyable.
After looking over the menu of various drinks and a few food options, I chose a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte. Being a favorite of mine from Starbucks, I figured it would be comparable.
I paid just over $5 for a 16 ounce, which, in my opinion, is a little overpriced for the portion.
After a short wait, I received my drink and looked around for a place to sit. Immediately, I was drawn to the three sizable, clear plastic igloos; however, all of them had people already occupying them.
Taking a seat in one—though sharing the somewhat cramped space with another couple—a space heater warmed the inside, a nice touch on the windy day.
The coffee itself was disappointing. The flavor was fairly bitter, more than I preferred. The drink itself was very watered-down, and the pumpkin spice was more of an afterthought.
I also sipped the drink my friend ordered: a Salted Caramel Latte. Her drink tasted mildly better than mine, with more flavor, but still not great.
As I was sipping my subpar coffee, I glanced at my cup. Written on the side was “compostable.” Looking around, I noticed compost bins instead of trash cans. This increased my appreciation of the shop—knowing that they value the environment.
When I ended up getting to the bottom of the drink, I took a sip and my mouth was filled with grainy chunks of powder that were supposed to be mixed throughout it. It was just the way to make a bad drink even worse.
After composting my empty cup, I walked over to the attached indoor shop: Woosah. Being a nature-inspired, outdoorsy gift shop, it was no surprise that it was connected to the outdoor coffee shop because they both had the same atmosphere. Woosah had a charming interior, and I loved the uniqueness of the coffee shop and gift shop combination.
I adored the concept of a food truck and outdoor coffee shop, but the coffee itself fell flat. With a cute and trendy aesthetic, it has an appealing atmosphere. But with the drinks being the main feature, it’s not worth the money.