Location: Lansing, MI
Rating: 6+ [see key]
A lot of capital cities have interesting histories, but not many possess one as strange as Lansing, Michigan. Originally settled by an assortment of families scammed into buying marshland in a nonexistent Biddle City, these swindled New Yorkers ended up settling a mile north of the marsh, naming their new town after their home village of Lansing. Some years later, when Michigan sought to move the state capital from Detroit, there was such furious competition by the other cities that it was thrown to little Lansing out of frustration. Today, the city has grown to house some great institutions, such as Michigan State University and a coffeehouse fittingly-named for the city, Strange Matter Coffee.
Actually named after a type of quark matter, Strange Matter Coffee is a multi-roaster coffeeshop established to be a bastion of quality amidst lesser coffee. I had the distinct fortune of passing by their shop one rainy afternoon, and like any lover of great coffee, I galloped quickly to their threshold.
The interior was alive with customers and staff, a veritable melange of students, local professionals and staff scattered about the long space. The lighting was intimate, focusing on the natural rays from their windows, complimented by light woods and gray walls.
For my drinks, I ordered two Populace coffees: an espresso of their Espresso Proper and a pourover of their Bolivia Teodosia. The espresso, pulled short/medium with brown crema, smacked of key lime pie, cocoa nibs, toffee, walnut, heavy cream and arugula, making for a sweet, sultry and smooth pull. The pourover also set my tongue aflutter, with punches of peach, croissant, nougat, blackberry and almond butter in a light bodied brew.
Unlike the first settler of Biddle City, I found my experience to be a solid followthrough on promised excellence. Truly, Strange Matter stands head and shoulders above your average cafe and I look forward to revisiting one day. When in Lansing, speed over to their flagship location on East Michigan Avenue without delay.