Madcap, Downtown Market

The Madcap Coffee sign, with its distinctive lightning bolt symbol, hanging from the roof at Grand Rapids' Downtown Market.Madcap Coffee is, other than Chicago’s Intelligentsia, the one name in Midwest coffee that I hear (and see) on a consistent basis around the US. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which I visited on last year’s Midwest road trip specifically to see Madcap and visit its three locations: Monroe Center, where it all began, the new roastery and coffee shop on Fulton Street, and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Madcap’s coffee bar in Downtown Market.

All three locations have the same basic menu, with two options on espresso and multiple pour-over options, although the choice of beans varies. For Downtown Market, this means that the Third Coast blend, along with decaf, are ever-present on espresso, joined by a second option which changes once or twice a week. For coffee equipment geeks, the shots are pulled on a Modbar system, with Modbar pour-over modules dispensing filter coffee through the Kalita Wave.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The northern end of the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, home to Madcap Coffee.
  • Just in case you weren't sure.
  • You're best off using this door, which faces the open-air parking lot.
  • While you have to go inside to order, once you're done, you can sit out here.
  • Madcap occupies this circular island counter off to the left of the doors, with the rest of...
  • ... the market, full of artisan food shops, stalls and restaurants, stretching out beyond.
  • If you come in through another door, or just want to wander, there's a handy floor plan.
  • Returning to Madcap, the till, where you order, is in the centre, with seating either side.
  • The bulk of the seating is to the right...
  • ... where you'll find 12 fixed bar stools.
  • Meanwhile, to the left, there are just nine...
  • ... seen here from the other end.
  • Finally, don't forget there's the outside seating.
  • At the end of the left-hand side, against the wall, are the retail shelves.
  • There's the usual array of coffee-making equipment, as well as bags of beans...
  • ... including both blends and single-origins (although these were lined up on the counter).
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • Down to business. You order at the till in the centre of the counter.
  • The menu is on a central pillar (and it's on all four sides of it).
  • There's a more detailed menu on the counter...
  • ... which is also where you'll find the choice of beans.
  • The coffee, meanwhile, is made using the Modbar system. There's pour-over to the left...
  • ... while to the right is the espresso module and two grinders.
  • The two Modbar group heads, plus one of the two steam wands. If you want to watch...
  • ... your espresso extract, this is where it's at. Grab a seat by the Modbar group heads...
  • ... and feast your eyes. I particularly love watching espresso extract into glasses.
  • While the espresso extracts, the barista steams the milk.
  • This is actually my coffee extracting on the second group head.
  • It looks gorgeous, doesn't it?
  • The two finished espressos, waiting for their milk.
  • As well as watching espresso extract, I love watching baristas pouring latte art.
  • Step one, create the base, mixing the coffee and milk.
  • Next, the barista starts to build up the pattern, element by element.
  • First element done, the barista pours and shapes the second element...
  • ... the third element...
  • ... and the fourth and final element.
  • Now for the finishing touch...
  • ... joining the four elements together.
  • And here's the finished article, a decaf cortado, served in a glass...
  • ... with the lovely latte art...
  • ... which lasted all the way to the bottom of the glass...
  • ... which is where I'll leave you.
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Madcap Coffee, which opened in early 2018, is part of Grand Rapid’s Downtown Market, a large, indoor market on Ionia Avenue. About 20 minutes’ walk south of Monroe Center, it’s on the opposite side of US 131 from the Amtrak station. Downtown Market is a collection of over 20 artisan food shops, stalls and restaurants, with Madcap at the building’s northern end, facing the open-air parking lot.

Entering through the main doors from the parking lot, Madcap is on your left, with Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate straight ahead. There’s also a large, outdoor seating area to the left of the door, with three square, four-person tables, partly sheltered under the projecting roof. Behind the outdoor seating area, Madcap Coffee is clearly visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Inside, Madcap occupies a circular island counter, with seating around the edges, occupying maybe 210° of the counter. The till is in the centre, facing you as you approach from the doors, while the seating, provided by fixed bar stools, is split between left (nine stools) and right (12 stools). At the far left-hand end, against a wall by the window, there’s a set of retail shelves. Although the layout is different, in concept it reminded me of George Howell in the Boston Public Market.

Of the three Madcap locations in Grand Rapids, this is, perhaps, the one where you get closest to the coffee, which is arrayed around the counter. To the left are two Modbar pour-over modules, along with their Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, while to the right are a pair of Modbar group heads and steam wands, along with two grinders (a Victoria Arduino Mythos 1 and a Mahlkönig Peak).

During my visit, Madcap had its Ocktoberfest on the second grinder for espresso, which was also on pour-over, along with Reko, an Ethiopian single-origin, and two El Salvador single-origins from the same farm, which I’d tried earlier in the day at Fulton Street. By this point, I was rather over-caffeinated, so I ordered a decaf cortado, which was served with a glass of sparkling water.

Made with a Colombian single-origin decaf, it was a lovely, smooth coffee with some excellent latte art. Compared to the cortado made with the Third Coast blend that I’d had early that day at the Monroe Center, the coffee didn’t come through the milk as strongly, resulting in a smoother, more rounded coffee which I really enjoyed.

435 IONIA AVENUE SW • GRAND RAPIDS • MI 49503 • USA +1 888 866 9091
Monday 09:00 – 19:00 Roaster Madcap (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 19:00 Seating Counter
Wednesday 09:00 – 19:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 09:00 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 09:00 – 19:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 20:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 10:00 – 19:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 16th September 2018

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2 thoughts on “Madcap, Downtown Market

  1. Pingback: Madcap, Monroe Center | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: Madcap, Fulton | Brian's Coffee Spot

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