Good Coffee, Good Vibes

If I were asked to single out my favorite coffee shop in the world, my response would be easy: Café Rica in Battle Creek, Michigan. I found Café Rica in summer 2021 during a quick stop in Battle Creek, and additional visits since then have convinced me it’s the embodiment of the perfect coffee shop. To begin with the obvious—their coffee is good, and I especially favor the cold brew mocktails, which combine iced coffee with mixers like cherry bitters. I ordinarily prefer to try different menu items, but in Café Rica’s case I liked their orange-smoked salmon-avocado salad wrap so much, it was the only thing I ordered until my most recent visit last month, when I found it was no longer on the menu. I settled for a quinoa bowl instead, and it was just as satisfying.

More than the food and drink, though, the reason I keep coming back is the vibe at Café Rica. On a weekend morning, it’s bustling but not crowded, with plenty of room for people to spread out and talk or read or write. The open kitchen/coffee prep area means I often look up from my computer and watch the cooks and baristas talk and joke as they work. Brick walls and gray floor planks are broken up by bursts of color, such as the large flamingo mural on the back wall. Café Rica is a place where I settle in and get work done, hours flying by before I even realize it. If Battle Creek weren’t a 90-minute drive from Ann Arbor, I’d probably be a permanent fixture there. Instead, I settle for one or two visits a year, when the weather is nice and I feel like hitting the road for good vibes and inspiration.

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