It took 10 years of travel, but what Danielle Charles and Mike Davies brought back to Petoskey was no ordinary souvenir. Instead, the couple built and opened , their homage to artisanal baking, old-world drinking chocolates, and handcrafted coffee brewing methods that echo a vintage laboratory experiment.
Their 10 years away included stints in Seattle, Vermont, and in England, where Davies worked as a barista.
But as they entered their thirties, they felt it was time to return to Michigan, especially since their entire families on both sides still live in the area.
“We felt that we needed to go out and experience living in different places and cultures before we settled for good,” said Davies, who grew up in Harbor Springs.
Opening Dripworks was a bit of a leap of faith for the couple.
“It’s difficult to explain in a few sentences, but I think it was always at the back of our minds, and we were just waiting for the right time and enough courage to do it,” said Charles, a native of Petoskey.
Cooking being a “personal obsession” with both, they dove into coffee and tea drinking when Davies gave up alcohol about five years ago.
“Coffee and tea became the center of our cafe,” Charles said. “They bring us together socially, force us to slow down and take breaks, and they are both crops that people invest a huge amount of care in from start to finish.”
With that in mind, Davies and Charles set out to create a space that was “the final link in the chain,” ensuring that ambience was worthy of the coffee and tea served there.
After a long time cutting out pictures, putting together Pinterest boards, and studying their favorite cafes, the couple slowly assembled Dripworks’ interior design.
The cherry on top? A massive, 20-year old collection of Michigan hardwood and cedar lumbered by Davies’ grandfather and gifted to the couple.
“We had a black and white color scheme, and decided for both practical and aesthetic reasons to do exposed piping and industrial conduits to get an industrial feel,” Charles said. “I think that everything really came together, however, when Mike’s grandfather donated his entire collection of wood to us.”
Davies’ grandfather’s garage and a few toolsheds were packed full of wood.
“He said he was saving it for a raining day, and we just felt so grateful to him,” Davies said. “[It] provided that last needed aspect that Dripworks was missing.”
A second gift of wood for the front window bar was donated by Charles’ cousin, who had inherited it from her grandfather.
“It felt really appropriate to have this gift from both of our grandfathers; it made the space really special,” Davies added.
Along with friends and family, Davies and Charles built the entire space themselves, including seats, floor, tiles, and countertops.
“To sit in a handmade seat is such a different experience than sitting in something made in a factory,” Davies said.
Davies and Charles source their beans from Grand Rapids artisan roaster Madcap Coffee, a direct trade roaster that visits and pays fair wages to all of the coffee farms they source their beans from.
The coffee menu is “kept fairly simple,” Davies said.
Regular brewed coffee; pour over coffee (a type of hand-brewed filter coffee); or siphon coffee, a method popular in Japan that looks slightly scientific as it’s being done.
“The siphon has become our most popular seller,” Davies said. “I think both because it’s something most people have never had, and because it’s fun to watch.”
Espresso drinks are listed by what they are (espresso + water; espresso + milk) in place of traditional Italian names.
The tea, from several different sources, is consolidated in a loose-leaf tea bar that features black, oolong, green, and seasonal herbal teas.
“We serve all our tea in traditional tea ware, and give the customer extra hot water so they can re-infuse their tea multiple times,” Charles said.
Davies, a professional baker, makes the pastries from scratch every morning, and is inspired by seasonal, organic ingredients.
Selections so far have included harissa and Swiss croissants, mini-quiche tartlets, and a range of pastries, and they plan to add even more over time as the shop grows.
“Mike is pretty modest, so I will tell you that his pastries are out of this world,” said Charles, a food writer.
So far, Dripworks’ devotion to quality ingredients and a top-notch experience is steadily gaining them more customers.
“I think one of our customers said it best when she told us that Dripworks was a place to savor, where you can get something really special,” Charles said. “We hope we can continue to live up to that.”
Dripworks Coffee is located at 207 Howard St. in downtown Petoskey. Hours Tues.-Sun., 8am-4pm, closed Mondays. Telephone (231) 838-9875, or visit dripworkscoffee.com.