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by Cassandra Spratling
Coffeehouses are a sure sign of an area’s revitalization. In metro Detroit, independent shops — both old and new — are having a hot and flavorful impact on the area’s unprecedented comeback. A lot of the coffee is roasted right here, with many shops supporting local businesses and artists by selling their pastries and other foods, and/or adorning their walls with their latest masterpieces. Join us on our java jaunt. It promises a taste of what’s brewing in metro Detroit. And we’re not just talking about a mighty fine cup of joe. We’re also alluding to the other important thing a good coffeehouse can brew — a real sense of community.
POUR ON THE CHARM
Coffeehouses that make you feel at home
Farmhouse Coffee and Ice Cream
The welcoming wraparound porch invites you to sit a spell. The comfy interior feels more like visiting a friend than a business. There’s good reason Farmhouse elicits thoughts of a barn. The 150-year-old structure was originally a horse barn.
O / 32644 Franklin Road, Franklin
This old house reopened as a coffee shop in 2006, intent on maintaining much of its yesteryear charm. Enjoy your coffee in tin-can-like mugs in the front room, in the library filled with books and antiques or in the backyard.
DD / 2287 Holbrook Ave., Hamtramck
Plymouth Coffee Bean
This was a house when its life began in 1867. It has been many things since, but now it offers four distinct rooms and a front and back patio to enjoy coffee, tea, crepes and more in a homey, artistic atmosphere. Claim your space for knitting or scrapbooking. Live music most weekend nights.
GN / 884 Penniman Ave., Plymouth
PAIR A GOOD BITE WITH YOUR BREWED BEANS
Coffeehouses with larger menus
A bright white interior with black accents dominates this midcentury minimalistic cafe that opened in 2015. Though it offers a variety of coffee drinks, from espressos to pour-overs and lattes, it would be a mistake to think of it only as a coffeehouse. Atomic offers a full breakfast and lunch menu, a raw juice bar and smoothies made from fresh ingredients.
O / 401 S. Main St., Royal Oak
Caffe Far Bella
Though 7-year owners Karen and Jack Palazzolo appreciate accolades for best coffeehouse, they want everyone to know it’s not primarily a coffeehouse. It’s a restaurant that also offers an extensive coffee menu. It’s not a place to take up a table to do hours of homework. The coffee is excellent, roasted at Cadillac Coffee founded in Detroit, and sold by the bag or in one of many coffee drinks.
M / 23415 Greater Mack Ave., St. Clair Shores
KEEP IT SIMPLE
When you just want a big cup of coffee with big flavor
No frills, just fine coffee roasted in-house is what you’ll get in this cozy cafe. They don’t sell food or syrups. “If you put sugar or cream in my coffee, God cries and an angel loses a wing,” said roaster Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo, who owns the place with his wife, Lisa, and says drinking coffee black is the best way to sense the various notes of the specially selected beans.
O / 1737 E. 9 Mile Road, Ferndale
Customers can stand at the island bar with the baristas while their drink is prepared by the cup. No flavored syrups here. Just a few good choices of coffees and lattes in a warehouse-like setting.
DD / 1401 Vermont St., Detroit
GATHER AMONG THE GROUNDS
Coffee shops that sometimes double as community hot spots.
This place is as much a community center as a place that sells great coffee. Owner Amanda Brewington (yes, her last name suggests her destiny) first opened in 2012 as a pop-up along this strip of Grand River Avenue in Detroit’s Rosedale Park neighborhood. It became so popular, it stayed and fast became a place where community groups meet, knit, perform or just share coffee and conversation.
DW / 19180 Grand River Ave., Detroit
The Bottom Line Coffeehouse
This basement bistro welcomes everyone, whether you can afford coffee or not. Purchase a $2 “suspension cup” and it goes to anyone who comes in penniless —whether a homeless person or a student from nearby Wayne State University. People gather here for community meetings, occasional live music, to study or simply sip.
DD / 4474 Third Ave., Detroit
Miracle Coffee House
Owners Karen Ahrens and Kevin Miracle serve friendliness along with their coffee and tea. The two transformed a former Caribou Coffee location into a rustic, warm place where residents gather to play board games, exchange books and enjoy the artwork of the community’s children or a music recital of one of its own.
GN / 40200 W. 14 Mile Road, Commerce Twp.
BREAK BREAD WITH YOUR BREAKFAST BLEND
Coffee might not be the specific focus here, but it’s darn good anyway
This attractive storefront may be small, but it has made a big impact since opening in 2011 by former employees of a prominent London coffeehouse. Their knowledge of fine coffee and food, and passion for place — Corktown — combined to turn this into a popular stop for a morning cup of coffee or a late afternoon pick-me-up. Pair your drink with one of the sandwiches, breads or pastries made in-house.
DD / 2124 Michigan Ave., Detroit
You’ll forget you went here for coffee when you walk in this cute cafe and your eyes zero in on the colorful, decadent array of delicious pastries. The shop was opened three years ago by French-trained pastry chef Matt Knio and partner Garen Damiryan. Handmade Viennoiseries (baguettes, croissants, breads) and other French pastries are made from scratch daily.
O / 159 N. Eton St., Birmingham
An appetizing array of cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts and more tempt visitors at the counter. Bread comes fresh daily from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor. The variety of coffee drinks has given this 21-year-old establishment a reputation as a fine place to sip a cup of joe while meeting with friends.
GN / 150 N. Center St., Northville
Avalon International Breads
The variety of house-made breads, muffins and more may be a main attraction, but Avalon offers darn good cups of coffee, brewed fresh daily, along with a variety of hot drinks.
DD / 422 W. Willis St., Detroit
Detroit Institute of Bagels
This popular spot in Detroit’s Corktown serves a stellar selection of bagels, from plain to hot jalapeno. The institute has proven to be a popular spot for coffee, roasted at nearby Anthology Coffee.
DD / 1236 Michigan Ave., Detroit
PLACES THAT DOUBLE AS AD HOC OFFICES
Coffee shops that also make good mobile work shops
Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company
A contemporary open space in Detroit’s Midtown with a wide variety of coffee drinks to keep people caffeinated over their laptops. The space offers private and community tables to meet, greet and work. There’s also a full bar for wine, beer or cocktails. Try any one of several cocktails named after Detroit neighborhoods, ‘burbs and landmarks, including the Southwest, Eastside, Hubbard Farms, Downriver and the Saint Anne. The Bloomfield Hills-based roaster also has a smaller cafe in Cobo Center.
DD / 3965 Woodward Ave., Detroit
Other location: O / 4135 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills
The Office Coffee Shop
A variety of seating areas, from window-side benches to high- and low-top tables, allow people to work solo or in small groups bathed in natural light or darker spaces, depending on where you sit. Fax and copy machines are on the premises.
O / 402 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak
A ROBUST MIX OF ART AND ATMOSPHERE
Coffeehouses combining distinctive spaces with distinctive drinks
The Next Chapter Bookstore & Bistro
Owner Dan Comaianni traveled to France for inspiration for this boutique bookstore, bistro and coffeehouse, infused with European flair. Makers of the movie Scream shot scenes here.
GN / 141 E. Main St., Northville
Imagine a warehouse turned art gallery and music space, and you have Trinosophes. A big, open space with a stage accommodates musicians for various events, and an independent record shop and local music museum adjoins the coffee shop.
DD / 1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit
One could argue that there’s hardly a more beautiful place to sit and sip coffee or tea. Located on the promenade under the vaulted cathedral ceiling of the Guardian Building, Rowland is a showpiece that bursts with art deco architectural splendor, intricate craftsmanship, and Native American and Aztec influences.
DD / 500 Griswold St., Guardian Building, Detroit
A customer plays an Adele song on a piano near the front of the room. A couple laughs over coffee at a nearby table, and a woman comes in to ask the barista for info on the drumming-for-exercise classes in the second-floor fitness studio.
DW / 3203 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte
Cats and coffee make a purr-fect combination in this storefront space run by the Ferndale Cat Shelter. Customers play with cats and kittens, and help themselves to tea or locally roasted coffee and treats. A donation of at least $10 is appreciated.
O / 821 Livernois, Ferndale
MUSIC AND MORE WITH YOUR MOCHA LATTE
Coffeehouses that add a few extra ingredients to the experience
Ashe Supply Co.
Natural elements including reclaimed wood, exposed brick and copper create an industrial yet sleek, modern vibe. Ashe attracts a diverse mix of customers, from downtown workers to opera and Detroit Tigers fans, as well as students looking for a place to study or hang out. A handcrafted collection of coffee-related goods, urban outerwear and art is for purchase.
DD / 1555 Broadway St., Detroit
Detroit Vintage Coffee
Pam Duvall turned a former soul food joint owned by her grandparents in the 1950s into a charming bistro. Antiques, knickknacks, jewelry and other attractions artistically adorn every wall, bookshelf, cabinet space and ceiling space of this weekends-only coffeehouse.
DW / 10335 W. 8 Mile Road, Detroit
Roasted Bean - Detroit
In addition to a house blend roasted locally and fresh daily, the shop features other Michigan-made products such as Faygo, Better Made and Detroit Popcorn Co.
DD / MGM Grand Detroit, 1777 Third Ave., Detroit
Germack Coffee Roasting Co.
A Detroit institution in Eastern Market, this place has been roasting coffee and more since 1924. Its cafe opened in 2010, featuring fine handcrafted coffee and specialty teas.
DD / 2517 Russell St., Detroit
Coffee is so steeped in our history and culture that a part of it will be reflected in a new exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate runs Nov. 20, 2016, through March 5, 2017, at the DIA and will feature, among other things, European ceramics, paintings and sculptures related to America’s favorite hot drinks.
Ground coffee goes in filter, filter goes in basket and hot water is trickled atop. Your standard Mr. Coffee brew.
Man rather than machine pours the water over the grounds residing in the paper filter.
Coffee infused with nitrogen gas and poured from a tap. Smooth, clean and cold.
Coffee’s essence — the crema, the body and the heart — in roughly two ounces of liquid (aka a small shot of caffeine).
Espresso diluted with hot water until it’s the consistency of drip coffee.
One-third espresso, one-third milk, one-third soft microfoam. Free-poured, never spooned.
Eli Tea Bar in Birmingham • Goldfish Tea in Royal Oak • Socra Tea Detroit and The Whitney in Detroit • Sweet Afton Tea Room and Restaurant in Plymouth • Cotswold Cottage Tea at The Henry Ford in Dearborn • Purple Door Tea Room in Ferndale • Royal Park Hotel in Rochester • Detroit Bubble Tea Co. in Ferndale • Victorian Rose Tea House in Rochester • The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham
More beans being brewed in metro Detroit
Anthology in Detroit • Bean & Leaf in Royal Oak • Espresso Elevado in Plymouth • Stella Good Coffee in Detroit • Commonwealth in Birmingham • The Red Hook in Ferndale • The Dovetail in Warren • JavaHutt Cafe in Ferndale • iCoffee House in Shelby Twp. • Zanie Janie’s Simply Coffee in Holly • Motor City Java and Tea House in Detroit • Dessert Oasis in Rochester • Cafe Con Leche in Detroit • Fourteen East in Detroit • Crates Coffee House in Lake Orion • City Coffeehouse in Allen Park
Cassandra Spratling is an award-winning writer who specializes in inspirational stories that empower people in metro Detroit. She loves walking and biking, especially around Belle Isle, Palmer Park, the city’s awesome riverfront and Hines Drive. A coffee lover herself, you’re apt to find her in any of the places featured in this story.
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