Biggby Coffee in East Lansing
I’ve enjoyed coffee since I was a kid, and I always enjoyed going to coffee shops with my dad and/or grandpa. But it was only as a teenager that I really got into the coffee shop scene. It was the late 1990s, and Starbucks was just making its way into mid-Michigan. Coffee shops were big, and I found on I really liked. It was called Beaner’s Coffee, and I had no idea that the name was a racial slur. Neither did the owners, evidently, as they kept the name around for a decade before renaming it to Biggby Coffee. But whatever the name, it was the first coffee shop I started going to on my own.
Biking to East Lansing
I started going to Beaner’s/Biggby before I could drive. It was about a half-hour bike ride from my parents’ house. I would go there with a sketch pad and sit on the patio for a couple of hours. Oddly enough, it wasn’t coffee I got, but iced tea. I got it because it was cheap, and I liked it better on the hot summer days. Once I started driving, I would take a notebook there to write or draw. I would have loved to have taken a laptop, but it was the turn of the century and I couldn’t afford such a thing.
A Growing Business
When I first started going to Beaner’s, it was just a single location in East Lansing, built in a former Arby’s. But throughout my college years, the store grew into a franchised chain with locations in several states. They actually built one in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but it’s far enough away that I never really go.
Preserving the Original
Earlier this year, a local developer announced plans to raze the original Biggby Coffee and build a new apartment block. After several months of input from the community, they are now considering changes to the plan. As a former resident of East Lansing and an alumnus of Michigan State University, I sincerely hope that they preserve the original Biggby for future generations of coffee shop aficionados. (Update: the redevelopment plans fell through, and the original Biggby is safe for now.)
Coffee shop fans, what was your first regular spot? Let me know in the comments.