Street Talk: Into the heart of coffee country


Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Howard Schultz walks into a Grand Rapids café…

Well, we’re not exactly sure if the Starbucks head honcho has walked into Madcap, but we do know the Grand Rapids coffee roaster is hosting a pop-up café in the land of great coffee, Seattle.

Madcap is the Roaster in Residence at La Marzocco Café, a retail outlet for the Italian espresso machine manufacturer.

The pop-up for the Grand Rapids company is meant to mimic the recently opened café at the Downtown Market.

During the five weeks of the takeover, June 6 to July 10, Madcap is highlighting a different origin source for its coffee, as well as an array of mock cocktails and drinks on taps.

Madcap co-founder and CEO Trevor Corlett spent the first week at the pop-up, while the other key employees from the company also are spending time throughout the month leading taste and chat sessions, including Co-Founder and Director of Coffee Ryan Knapp; Head Roaster Ron Heathman; Director of Retail Ryan Wojton; Lead Barista Trainer Colin Whitcomb; Quality Control Manager Marie Hucal; and Barista Trainer Jonathan Miller.

It seems just about everyone will get a taste of the Emerald City before the experiment is over.

Madcap has three locations in Grand Rapids: the original Monroe Center, 98 Monroe Center St. NW; the Madcap Coffee Downtown Market, 435 Ionia Ave. SW; and a recently opened café attached to the roastery, 1041 E. Fulton St.

Corlett said there currently are no plans to open a full-time café in Seattle, but he said he is pleased with how well the coffee is going over with denizens of the “coffee capital” of America.

¿Tienes la próxima gran idea?

Start Garden's next monthly 5×5 Night competition will be its first "Cinco por Cinco" pitch night, conducted entirely in Spanish. The event will be held from 5-8 p.m., June 27, at the downtown Grand Rapids offices of Start Garden, 40 Pearl St. NW. Borrowing a page from the United Nations, meeting attendees will be offered real-time speech translation via headsets provided to non-Spanish speaking audience members.

Start Garden's 5×5 Night pits five local entrepreneurs against one another, giving participants five minutes and five slides to present their startup ideas to five judges. The winning idea receives $5,000 to go toward expanding their idea, and Grand Rapids-based law firm Varnum LLC also chips in with $5,000 worth of legal services for the winning startup.

The brainchild of new Start Garden Co-Director Jorge Gonzalez, "Cinco por Cinco" is being put on in collaboration with the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The five ideas selected for the first Cinco por Cinco are quite varied and range from collaborations and physical products to services and education.

  • We Art Together for a Change is a platform encouraging collaboration between artists and cultural organizations to achieve social change.
  • El Lux Mount is a phone camera lens add-on that allows users to enhance their smartphone photos with better lighting.
  • Koren Graphic Design creates a bilingual creative graphic design service.
  • Loop Coding Center is a coding bootcamp for students between the ages of 11 and 18 years old.
  • Soldadera Coffee is a cold brew coffee maker with a focus on coffee spiced with unique Mexican herbs. It also includes a social change aspect through its branding that calls attention to gender inequality.

Night of knights

No, Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick aren’t coming to town.

But the stars of the dark comedy “The Cable Guy,” who in one epic scene do battle in an arena at Medieval Times, would feel right at home in GR next month.

Two knights from Chicago’s Medieval Times will be in the city July 12 at the Knapp’s Corner Goodwill store, 2345 East Beltline Ave. NE, as part of the multi-city Chivalry in Action Goodwill Tour.

The knights will reward donors with free dinner and tournament tickets to Medieval Times in Schaumburg, Illinois, the only Midwest castle in the company. The company has nine large stone castles across the U.S. and Canada that feature four-course dinners “fit for a king” and a showcase of knights engaged in jousting, horsemanship, falconry and, of course, sword fights.

The first 25 people to make a purchase or donation at the Goodwill from 12-2 p.m., July 12, will receive two tickets to Medieval Times.

The two-hour appearance will include fighting demonstrations, knights-in-training exercises for children and photos opportunities.

Hopefully, there will be no awkward friendships with cable television repairmen included.

Spacing out

Engineering students from Grand Valley State University recently returned from a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they tested a device they built for astronauts to use during future space missions.

The trip in May was part of NASA’s Micro-g NExT Design Challenge, which tasks students to design and build a device that addresses a space exploration challenge. In December, the Grand Valley North Stars’ proposal for a surface sampling device was one of 30 selected to move on to the second phase of the challenge. The device is for astronauts to gather and contain multiple samples of surface particles.

The students spent five months designing and building the device in Keller Engineering Labs on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. They used CAD software to design the device and a 3-D printer to create the prototypes.

Jake Stephens, a product design and manufacturing engineering major from Lowell, said the simplicity of the design was intentional.

“Astronaut suits are huge and stiff, and their gloves are bulky, like hockey gloves, so we had to take that into consideration while designing the device’s handle,” Stephens said. “Astronauts are working with limited resources and tools while they are in space, so we didn’t want to create something complicated and detailed.”

On May 23, the team joined others from Purdue, Ohio State and Cornell universities to present and test their prototype in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, which includes a 40-foot-deep pool that closely mimics a zero-gravity environment. The students gave a presentation to a panel of NASA engineers.

In the Mission Command Center, product design and manufacturing major Dylan DiGiovanni served as the communication liaison between the diver and the team.

“I was prepared to walk the diver through the use of the tool step-by-step, but she didn’t really need it,” he said. “Our design was so intuitive and simple to use that she didn’t need much instruction.”

The team took samples gathered at NASA back to GVSU to analyze and include in their final report. The report, due later this month, will be added to NASA’s database for engineers to use and reference in the future.

North Star team members include Brianna Forsthoefel, of Lansing; DiGiovanni, of Elk Rapids; Stephens, of Lowell; Nate Kyburz, of Lowell; Taylor Rieckhoff, of Plymouth; and Daniel Scheske, of Sturgis.

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