My Midwest road trip was planned primarily around the wonderful landscapes of Lakes Michigan and Superior. However, when planning my route, I did take into account the availability of good coffee, Marquette, on the southern shore of Lake Superior, being a prime example. Located roughly a day’s drive east of my previous stop, Duluth, and big enough to have a decent selection of cheap hotels, what swung it for me was Velodrome Coffee Co, whose presence I was alerted to by an article in Sprudge.
Velodrome is a coffee shop and roastery which opened on 29th August, 2017, occupying a lovely spot on West Washington Street, on the way into downtown. All the coffee’s roasted on-site by a tiny 1 kg gas-fired roaster located in an equally tiny roastery space off to the right of the main area, visible through a hatch in the wall. Velodrome only roasts single-origins, served as espresso-based drinks through a single-group Modbar or as filter via either batch-brew (fast coffee) or Clever Dripper (slow coffee). There’s also a small selection of cakes. If you’re also looking for somewhere to stay, there’s a loft apartment upstairs over the shop and a smaller studio at the back.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Velodrome Coffee Co is on the south side of West Washington Street, one of several running east-west on the hills behind downtown Marquette, easily accessible from the main through-route, US 41. There’s plentiful on-street parking, or alternatively, you can park to the rear of the building.
Occupying the ground floor of a standalone two-storey building, it’s an Interesting space, with a main area, flanked by two smaller areas, one to each side. You enter from the street via a central, recessed door between two windows, each with a two-person window bar. To your left, a doorway leads to the first of the two spaces, while beyond that is a small set of retail shelves, followed by the counter, with the cakes and till facing the door. The pour-over set-up is against the left-hand wall, while opposite that, on the right-hand side, gleams a single Modbar group head and its associated steam wand.
On the right-hand side, after the window-bar, a hatch looks into the roastery, followed by a two-person bar against the wall. Beyond this, a doorway lead into the second space, with a single five-person table in the corner, arranged around an L-shaped bench, while at the front, another doorway leads into the roastery. There’s a second hatch here, looking into the roastery, with a single window-bar arrangement, so you can watch the 1 kg roaster in action. It really is a mini-roastery in there, complete with sacks of green beans and a bagging area for the roasted coffee. Given its small capacity, the roaster is in almost continuous operation.
The remaining seating is in the space to the left, where three two-person tables fold out from the walls. One is at the front, with one each against the left- and right-hand walls. There’s storage space for a bike or two in here, plus a restroom at the back.
Velodrome roasts four or five single-origins on a seasonal basis for use both in the coffee shop and for wholesale customers. While I was there, a Papua New Guinea was on batch-brew and cold-brew/iced coffee, while a Guatemala Francisco Morales and decaf Colombian were available on both espresso and through the Clever Dripper, where they were also joined by two further options.
There’s a simple menu, with espresso, Americano and cappuccino/latte (8/12oz), but Velodrome will also make smaller milk drinks if you ask, so I started off with a cortado served in a small glass jar, which was just the right size. I’ve been used to sweet flat whites in the UK, but on this trip I’m finding more of a bite/edge to the coffee. I don’t know whether this is due to the difference in size between a flat white and a cortado (less milk = less sweet) or a tendency to roast slightly darker, but I’m enjoying the contrast.
Intrigued, I decided to the Guatemalan as an espresso, which was served on a wooden tray with the offer of a glass of soda water (I already had some in my Therma Cup). It was lovely, with a rich, complex taste that defeated both my palate and vocabulary in my attempts to describe it. However, it had the same elements that I tasted in the cortado.
Since I figured this would be my only good coffee of the day, I decided to risk caffeine-overload and had the Guatemala as a Clever Dripper, wanting to compare all three options. As a filter, it was very different, more delicate and subtle, maturing delightfully as it cooled. Had my barista, Kelly, told me it was a different coffee, I’d have believed her!
|519 WEST WASHINGTON STREET • MARQUETTE • MI 49855 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Velodrome (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Bars|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Cakes|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||13th September 2018|
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