If the number of coffee shops in Detroit is any indication of the reawakening of the city, then take heart. Detroit’s indie coffee trade appears to be growing steadily and gathering steam. For the price of a French press, pour-over or drip-brew, you can get a true taste of the city’s most distinctive neighborhoods. Wake up and smell the double espressos, full-fat lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos, and you’ll find your place in the city.
Like foodies, coffee aficionados (coffies?) get as geeked talking about coffee bars as they do about restaurants. The level of coffee knowledge and quality has grown as intense as the choice of brews out there. Here’s a short list of places around the city with the most fanatical devotees:
Newest coffee shop downtown: The Roasting Plant
Bringing the art and science of coffee to Detroit, The Roasting Plant opens its first coffee shop, outside of New York City, at the foot of Campus Martius Park in the First National Building. With appeal to the burgeoning hub of tech and creative companies downtown, the coffee shop features the patented Roasting Plant System, offering 11 daily choices of coffee beans, brewed individually for perfect drinks on demand. Returning to the city where she grew up, manager Elizabeth Rose expressed her excitement in opening the shop in the heart of resurging downtown. “I would occasionally come to work with my father when he had an office in the First National Building, so when the opportunity to return to Detroit and be located there presented itself, I could not pass it up. I love what’s happening to Detroit.”
Corktown Phenom: Astro Coffee
Don’t be in a hurry for your coffee here. Astro Coffee is as much about the atmosphere as the perfection of its brews. Its location next door to Slows Bar BQ makes it an ideal spot for people watching while you wait for a table on a busy Saturday afternoon.
As a destination cafe in its own right, Astro offers a variety of artisanal coffee roasters and producers sourced from around the country. The menu features a small, but satisfying selection, of baked goods and sandwiches made in house, featuring local produce.
The one and only Kosher: Chazzano Coffee Roasters
Far from the same old grind as coffee shops go. Whether you’re obsessed with coffee or just curious to learn more about the distinctions between flavors, roasting and brewing techniques, Chazzano is a place to discover. Owner Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo – a cantor of Jewish and Italian heritage – stands behind the promise of a great cup of coffee, served “crazy fresh.” With the motto that “Good Coffee Makes You Sing,” Chazzano has grown into the area’s premium purveyor and roaster of fair trade, organic coffee for restaurants, cafes, hotels and upscale grocers including Plum Market and Whole Foods.
Pop-Up Shop in Ponyride: Anthology Coffee
On the premise that “all boats rise with the tide,” Slows Bar BQ owner, Phil Cooley, purchased a warehouse in a tax sale last spring. His purpose: to open the space for socially conscious artists, local startups and nonprofits to work and share knowledge and resources. Currently, Ponyride is home to several businesses, including the pop-up coffee shop Anthology, serving coffee custom-brewed by the cup. Other Ponyride ventures include Detroit Denim, Stukenborg Press, Smith Shop, Paul P. Designs, new dance studio Runjit Detroit, and The Empowerment Plan, Veronika Scott’s company that produces self-heating coats that transform into sleeping bags for the homeless.
@Madison: Chez Zara
Where “Coffee Snobs are Welcome,” home of the “Nutella Latte,” Chez Zara is a great spot to meet or chill in the heart of the city’s entrepreneurial hub. In keeping with its eye-popping location in the lobby of the Rock-venture owned M@dison Building, Chez Zara worked with Doodle Home, a web-based platform for interior designers, and a tenant of the same building. The menu features espresso drinks, organic teas and pastries from Detroit’s Avalon Bakery. A second location: Chase Tower at Campus Martius.
Little Bistro in Corktown: Le Petit Zinc
Blink and you could miss it on Trumbull Street on the edge of Corktown. This quaint little cafe with a French twist is worth a try for a late afternoon espresso or mocha. Out of a tiny kitchen comes a surprising and delectable selection of crepes, salads, sandwiches, breakfast pastries and daily specials.When warm weather permits, there’s seating on an outdoor patio.
Playing on Broadway: 1515
Who knew? For 25 years, owner Daniel Martinez has maintained 1515 Broadway as a multi-use black box theater, cafe, studio, art gallery, coffee house, sound stage and meeting hall. A great place for people-watching, located across the street from the Detroit Opera Theater and next door to the M@dison Building, this downtown cafe gets plenty of traffic for coffee drinks, pastries and sandwiches.
Coffee Bar: Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company
From the local roaster serving the Eastern Market, Avalon Bakery and Westborn Market for years comes a new must-see urban chic café on the corner of Woodward and Alexandrine downtown. Exposed brick, high ceilings, huge windows and plenty of comfortable seating indoors and out, the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company has covered the bases, offering an ever-rotating selection of its own freshly roasted micro-lot, single origin coffees, plus an extensive menu of artisanal beers, food-friendly wines, sweets and small plate assortments including vegan dishes. Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company also operates a full-service satellite coffee bar adjacent to the Maple Theater in West Bloomfield and a coffee bar with drive-through window in Lake Orion.
Mexicantown: Café Con Leche
If you’re serious about espresso, and actually can tell the difference between hand-tamped and machine-made shots, you’re in for a treat here. A sunny and cozy spot to unwind, located in Mexicantown Mercado, this coffee house offers a wide variety of specialty coffees along with Latin-inspired choices like Champurrado, a traditional masa-based Mexican hot drink made with cane sugar, milk, anise and cinnamon. Chocolate lovers, try the ‘Chocolate a la Taza’ – a Spanish-styled hot chocolate with a consistency akin to a milkshake or a rich chocolate pudding.
Goodies in Royal Oak: Bean & Leaf
A popular hangout, locally owned, this environmentally friendly shop prides itself on fresh roasted coffees, fair trade and organic beans and teas served with delicious desserts, complete with vegan options. A quiet, relaxing vibe with the feel of a neighborhood living room provides the perfect place to work or meet friends. Local artwork is available for purchase and there’s a shared bookshelf to peruse. A second location is in downtown Rochester.
JCC West Bloomfield: Jerusalem Cafe
Central to life at the J, there’s coffee, cold drinks, sandwiches, and of course kosher pizza. Jersualem Cafe, owned by Brian Jacobs, provides a welcome spot to grab lunch, an after-school snack or a post-workout energy drink. Like the JCC, it’s always welcoming, always busy, serving students, families, museum visitors, theater-goers and guests seven days a week.
“Homegrown” in Detroit, VitaPerk is not a drink, it’s the first-of-kind supplement developed by two local guys who share a passion for coffee and health. A special blend of essential vitamins, minerals and natural flavors added to your coffee turns the average cup of Joe into something smarter. Available in individual packets at selected retail locations, online or wholesale. For more: www.vitaperk.com
Did you know?
- Coffee is a fruit, not a bean. It is the seed of a bush or tree that bears a cherry.
- Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, second to only oil.
- Coffee has 1,500 flavor profiles while wine has but 750.
- Espresso is not a type of bean, it is a brewing method.
Is coffee healthy? Three benefits
If you like coffee and it likes you (if it doesn’t give you migraines, jitters, an upset stomach or irregular heartbeats), enjoy. Here’s why:
- Coffee can be good for the brain. Studies show that coffee releases a substance called GCSF that helps sweep beta-amyloid deposits (the plaque buildups seen in Alzheimer’s) out of your brain.
- Coffee can help fend off Parkinsons. The reason isn’t clear, but the finding is consistent, and more coffee equals more protection.
- Coffee can help fight diabetes. Three compounds found in coffee seem to block the toxic accumulation of a protein linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. As coffee consumption goes up, diabetes risk goes down. Specifically, risk drops about 7 percent with each daily cup.