There are many coffee shops in downtown Lansing. There aren’t many of them that make their coffee with chocolate though.
Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Co., located at 500 E. Michigan Ave. Suite 190, have the option to make their coffee with chocolate instead of coffee beans, though customers have the option to use coffee beans.
Griffin Schulert, a manager at Great Lakes, said the business is doing well and that they generally pick up business heading into the summer.
“Business here goes up and down from time to time,” Schulert said. “It continually changes.”
Schulert said the shop, depending on what their importers bring in from out of the country, doesn’t always offer the same coffee beans and blends at the same time.
“When the seasons change for the growers, it changes what blends we offer,” Schulert said.
Stephanie Wallace, a barista at Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Co., said there is a Decker’s, and a Biggby coffee that are both downtown.
“I think they are our primary competition, Wallace said. “Our coffee shop is one of the only shops in the area that make their coffee with chocolate.”
Wallace said as long as they have customers, the owners say that their happy, as far as their satisfaction with business.
“I think it goes on and off as to how much business we’re getting,” Wallace said. “We can be kind of slow in the evenings but lately we’ve been doing pretty well.”
According to the Great Lakes website, it started off as a premium chocolate retailer with kiosks in malls throughout Michigan. It wasn’t until co-owners and brothers Paul and Jared Smith took control that the idea to make coffee came to realization.
Joe Dickson, a regular customer at Great Lakes, said he’s been coming there at least once a day and has been coming there for maybe two and a half years.
“I come here because of location. I do a lot of things with Riverwalk Theatre that’s right nearby,” Dickson said. “It’s also just kind of a nice, comfortable place. It’s a friendly setting and parking is easy.”
Dickson said Great Lakes is different compared to other coffee shops.
“The service is really friendly here. I like the folks that work here,” Dickson said. “The owners are nice. I’ve met both the owners. So that’s important.”
Dickson said he thinks that Great Lakes have a good business model.
“I think they got a good thing going with combination of the chocolate and coffee,” Dickson said. “I think that’s a smart combination.”
Paul Brandenburg, a new customer to Great Lakes, said this was only his second time coming to the coffee shop.
“I came in here because it was a good distance to walk from the office and get a little fresh air,” Brandenburg said.
Brandenburg said he’s been to a few coffee places before and said they have a good selection of chocolates.
“The few times I’ve been in here, I’ve been surprised at the number of people who are here,” Brandenburg said. “They seem to have an attractive location and an attractive environment.”
Wallace said she think the location is a descent location.
“I wonder sometimes if we would get more business if we were downtown a little more,” Wallace said. “But it’s nice because we’re in the stadium district so there are local businesses and there are residents that live above us.”