115 E Front St.
Buchanan, MI 49107
Monday to Thursday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The “historic downtown” of Buchanan, Michigan—a winding, scenic drive down Red Bud Trail from Andrews University—features assorted antique shops and other curiosities, all contributing to the village’s small town Americana vibe. While Andrews students unaware of the town’s existence can be forgiven, coffee and/or brunch enthusiasts may want to make the journey to the Union Coffee House & Café before the semester’s end.
Food: The menu has assorted breakfast and lunch items, either of which are served all day. There is a pretty even balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and the menu states that there are gluten free options available on request. The most popular item is the Grilled Veggie Burrito Plate, which contains rice, black beans, cheddar cheese, spinach, avocado, carrots and pico de gallo. These are wrapped in a jalapeño wrap and served with tortilla chips, quinoa salad, salsa and sour cream, making for a sizable and tasty meal. As for breakfast, there are several bagels, including a Build Your Own Bagel option. There are also baked goods like cookies, muffins and biscotti. I had a peanut butter cookie and a mocha, both of which were quite good. The cookie looked like it was going to be hard, but it was surprisingly chewy in the best way. The mocha was a bit sweet for me, but I should have expected as much from a mocha. Next time, I would get it half as sweet with an extra shot or two of espresso. Everything I tried tasted fresh, and the menu and website both attest to Union Coffee’s devotion to using local ingredients when possible.
Atmosphere & Service: Perhaps it is because I went on Monday in the early evening, but Union Coffee was surprisingly uncrowded. The establishment offers a lot of seating with plenty of outlets, and thus is quite conducive to studying. Seating offered includes wood, plastic or metal tables and chairs, but even these are really comfortable. Large windows lining one side of the café provide natural light, and small light fixtures are offered at various tables for additional light. The temperature inside was perfect for me (which means it would likely be a bit cold for most), but to me this simply inspired the feeling of coziness, whether it be with a warm drink, cuddly friends, or a nice sweater. Art covers the café’s walls, and the music, which played lightly enough that it could be ignored or enjoyed, was a soothing mix of alt-rock, indie, punk and classic rock, covering artists such as Led Zeppelin, Weezer and Foster the People. One unique feature of Union Coffee is its Café Library, which has not only a leave-a-book-take-a-book shelf, but also a music shelf which encourages patrons to take a CD and leave a new one behind. And of course, complimentary Wi-Fi is provided.
Price: My sizable mocha, containing two shots of espresso, and my cookie were just over $6. The aforementioned Grilled Veggie Burrito Plate is $10, which seems to be standard for meal-sized foods; the sandwiches are a dollar or two cheaper. The breakfast items range from $2.50 for toast with a topping to $6 for the fancier bagels. Going with the Build-Your-Own-Bagel option can cost even more depending on how many toppings one selects. Cheese, vegetables, and other bagel toppings cost thirty cents each, while meat options add $2 each. Drinks range from $2.25 for tea to $4.50 for mochas and other specialty lattes like the Lavender Latte.
Overall: Though Buchanan may be a bit out of the way for most Andrews students, Union Coffee is worth the trip. I will certainly return to try some of the other options that I missed, especially once the semester is over. Union Coffee has live music on Sundays at 2 p.m. this month and next, which would be lovely social outings for celebrating the end of semester.