Surprises are usually positive, involving shouts of glee at birthday parties or holiday presents wrapped in bright red bows. Sometimes the best surprises come in small packages, or rather, small cups. Grounds for Celebration gives the right amount of pick-me-up to put that same sort of surprise party smile on your face.
When evaluating the quality of a coffee shop, the first thing to note is the drink offerings. Quality can make up for lack in quantity, but Grounds for Celebration offers both. With intriguing drinks such as the Mate Latte, a yerba mate tea with mint honey and steamed milk, and Zebra Mocha, it may take a little too long to decide at the counter.
“We offer a large selection of specialty drinks that make our store unique,” barista Alisha Reicks said. “My favorite is a concoction—iced almond milk latte with a shot of hazelnut—or whatever I’m feeling that day.”
The only thing that can make seasonal drinks, like the pumpkin spice latte, taste better is the fact that customers can actually see the roaster where the store roasts the espresso and coffee beans. In fact, these coffee beans come from the company’s owners, George and Jan Rivera-Davis’ family’s coffee plantation in Panama. These fresh roasted beans are sent to the company’s other three locations in Windsor Heights, West Des Moines and Clive (called the Cozy Café).
This coffee shop stop is like an all-inclusive resort; you don’t realize all of the offerings until you get inside. Not only is there a large selection of drinks, but also lunch offerings, pastries and gelato. One should always be skeptical of food at coffee shops, as it’s easiest for small businesses to import mass-produced products for easy retail.
Grounds for Celebration swears by fresh quality for a menu that changes every five weeks for local and seasonal produce.
“The chicken salad on a croissant and quiche are always on the menu because they’re pretty popular,” Reicks said.
The store offers the perfect-sized pastries, all baked on-site, ideal for that essay-writing snack. After one bite of the oatmeal cinnamon scone, you’ll feel right back at home in the kitchen after a long day at school with a gooey plate of mom-made cookies.
With one of the four locations right on Beaver Ave., a couple miles from the Drake University campus, the coffee shop is conveniently close for students. With a large patio, you will never have to fight for room on a nice day. Grounds for Celebration also has free Wi-Fi connection, perfect for tackling that e-mail inbox or research paper.
However, the shop doesn’t see the large student population like other close-to-campus coffee shops, Mars Café and Smokey Row, do.
“I would say 70 percent of our clientele consists of regulars,” Reicks said, which was easy to believe after she continued to greet two older customers by first name.
Around mid-afternoon, the open, bright Beaverdale location, with featured local art on the walls, was half-full but not with students between classes. Instead, there were three couples of middle-aged women playing catch-up and showing off pictures of grandchildren, while an older man rested by the unlit fireplace with the local paper.
Holly D’Anna, a senior Drake student, ventured to the Windsor Heights location over the summer for some sunshiny patio time.
“When I went, I got a cappuccino smoothie with hazelnut flavoring,” D’Anna said
The Beaverdale location also features a drive-through, so the hubbub of traffic that accompanies people quickly coming in and out is kept to a minimum.
“I thought it was a nice place to even hang out,” D’Anna said. “I think it would be a very good place to study. It’s small, close-knit and even if it gets busy, the people that are actually there have real conversations.”
If you want that specialty location to make your own, and become a highly-appreciated regular, visit Grounds to Celebrate. The store is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. so you can make sure to get your caffeine fix first-thing in the morning.
Photos: Connor McCourtney