The Family Grind: ABeanToGo Coffee

ABeanToGo coffee in Downtown Lake Orion is a family-owned business where customers can enjoy live music, read a book, and consume a variety of coffee.

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It all started in the shower.

About 13 years ago Kirk Walker got the idea for a name for his coffee shop while praying and taking a shower. He thought of the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; the last name morphed into ABeanToGo.

Walker and his wife, Amy Walker started a coffee shop called ABeanToGo in Goodrich, MI.

About a year and a half ago, in November 2014, they expanded to a downtown Lake Orion, MI location.

The Lake Orion ABeanToGo is steaming with life, from early morning hours to night. Inside, businessmen can be found chatting over a cup, college students doing homework, and people doing art.

ABeanToGo is three generations deep into the Walker family.

Kirk Walker and his wife both work periodically in ABeanToGo, along with their son and daughter and Kirk’s mother and father.

ABeanToGo prides itself in live entertainment—featuring comedians, magicians, and live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But live music can be heard at any time in the shop; there is a black, baby grand piano and an acoustic guitar sitting out readily available for customers to use when they wish.

All of the company’s roasting is done in the Goodrich location.

“When you go to roasting school you come up with your own profile so that kind of makes each roaster unique,” said Walker—and that is one of the many things that makes ABeanToGo unique.

Customers are also given the opportunity to combine beans and create and name their own personalized blend of coffee.

“[ABeanToGo has] just good coffee. There is care not only in how it is crafted, but how it’s brewed, so each part of how it’s made. The entire process is so carefully done and thought through that it makes a quality cup of coffee,” said employee and self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, Becky Houston.

Kirk Walker has had a passion for coffee since age 14; after a series of events in his adulthood, he was laid off from his 11 yearlong auto design career.

“I got laid off and I was praying asking God, ‘is this the time?’ And it was very clear to me it was the time…my wife and I were very comfortable with it and went for it and here we are 13 years later,” said Walker.

When he speaks, Walker sips coffee out of a white mug featuring a black doodle of Marquette, MI—his fourth cup of the day.

It is hard for Walker to pick his favorite cup of coffee at ABeanToGo—his favorite roasts are the Sumatra and the coffee of the month: Sulawesi.

Chemistry Lesson in Coffee

The most fun cup of coffee for Walker to make is the siphon, a science experiment style of brewing.

To start, Walker brought out the main instrument, two glass bulbs on top of each other, connected with a glass cylinder in between—all on top of a Bunsen burner.

The instrument used in creating a siphon cup at ABeanToGo. Two bulbs, a glass cylinder in the middle and a Bunsen burner on the bottom.
The instrument used in creating a siphon cup at ABeanToGo. Two bulbs, a glass cylinder in the middle and a Bunsen burner on the bottom.

Walker measured out two 1/3 cups full of beans from a black, shiny bag full of Sulawesi coffee and put them into the coffee grinder; the beans are ground a bit finer than beans for a French Press.

A teapot was used to pour the water into the bottom bulb.

Walker ignited the flame—blue flames tickled the bottom bulb.

Bubbles started around the glass cylinder from the top piece—first small, then bigger and faster. Walker creates a suction with the cylinder to the bottom bulb.

The water began rising to the top bulb full of small bubbles, Walker turned down the heat. At this point, customers were gathering in awe of the process.

The crushed beans were poured into the top piece creating a chestnut brown color, Walker stirred and bubbles were still trying to rise from the bottom to join in on the process.

The coffee turns darker as Walker sets his timer and lets the coffee sit.

His timer hits one and half minutes and it is time to stir and remove the heat.

With the heat removed, the coffee escapes to the bottom bulb leaving a mound of grounds like a spherical sponge in the top piece.

Not a single ground made it to the bottom bulb.

Walker disassembles the siphon and pours the coffee into a brown to-go mug, leaving room for cream.

What’s left is an extremely hot cup of dark brown coffee—Walker said experts recommend waiting six to eight minutes to drink it just because of heat alone.

“This [cup] should jolt you into coffee, if you’re into coffee. It’s crazy good… If that’s not the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had, I would be shocked,” said Walker.

If you have time, you can ask for a siphon at ABeanToGo in Downtown, Lake Orion, it takes about seven minutes and you get to view the whole process.

“I love making people smile. When they come in [ABeanToGo], they are usually sad or tired. But they leave happy because now they have coffee,” said employee, Becky Houston.

You could get ABeanToGo, but after walking in, you might want to stay and get some beans to drink in the shop.

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