GV Alumna Opens Community and Support Centered Cafe – Grand Valley Lanthorn

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GVL / Max Ritchie

A new black-owned cafe called Shift Coffee + Culture has opened on Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

Cafe owner Deanna Bossenbroek is a Grand Valley State University alumnus who is an accountant by trade and epitomizes the creative and inviting atmosphere that the shop mimics.

Bossenbroek said she took on the challenge of opening a business without any prior knowledge of how to do it.

She said the store’s primary goal was to create a supportive community by uplifting other minority-owned businesses, especially those underrepresented in Grand Rapids, by buying and selling their products.

Everything about the coffee, right down to the cups the coffee is poured into, is from a minority-owned company.

Uncommon Coffee Roasters, currently owned by two young Brazilian entrepreneurs, supplies the baked goods for Shift Coffee + Culture while Portrait Coffee, a black-owned business in Atlanta, supplies the coffee.

Although they just opened, the chain reaction of minority support is already underway as Shift Coffee + Culture connected Uncommon Coffee Roasters to two other cafes in the area.

“A lot of minorities don’t come from a business background or business connections oowners,” Bossenbroek said. “Just like me, they are starting from scratch, so it’s important for me to help them.”

She said the idea to open her cafe came from the fact that as an accountant, Deanna would do much of her work in cafes.

“Everyone needs a place,” Bossenbroek said. “They need that place outside their house where they can work.”

To create the perfect atmosphere for her café, Bossenbroek said she spent six months designing and building it.

Grand Rapids graphic designer Tylan Davis helped bring his vision to life with a fun and quirky mural that covers the walls.

Bossenbroek said ignoring the voices and opinions of others and focusing on his goals was an important step in helping him realize his coffee vision.

“I spend so much time on every little detail of my shop, so it’s hard to hear people’s opinions,” Bossenbroek said. “Some people just want to see their own suggestions implemented or they want me to stray from my own vision.”

A unique aspect of Shift Coffee + Culture is the waffle menu, which features the names of Bossenbroek’s mother, aunt, two of her friends, and one of her husband’s daughters.

Each waffle, loaded with fruit, sugar or butter, was invented by the person who gave it its name.

“These are people who have been there for me through everything,” Bossenbroek said. “Everyone who orders a waffle gets a little piece of someone I love.”

Bossenbroek said she felt sentimental and proud whenever she heard her mother’s name in a command. She said it reminded her of the work she’s done and the people who have been with her along the way.

“I want everyone to love our coffee, our pastries and our waffles, but what matters to me most is that people make it a community and a place to be themselves, whether studying or going out with friends,” Bossenbroek said.

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