Biggby Coffee in East Lansing

MSU Loves Biggby CoffeeI’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.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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3 Responses

  1. September 15, 2014

    […] because I made it fun. I took easy classes and spent as much time doing fun stuff: like going to coffee shops, bars and extracurricular events. And while I could have challenged myself more, I have no real […]

  2. February 9, 2017

    […] started going to coffee shops in high school. I wasn’t the most socially adept teenager (to put it mildly), so I usually […]

  3. May 15, 2019

    […] and some interesting boutiques. There I discovered a place with the inadvertently offensive name of Beaners. I absolutely loved the place, especially the spacious patio. Since I only went there when I was […]

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