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National Coffee Day

15 spots to get your java fix around the city

Kat Rembacki

Kat Rembacki

Storyteller at Core Detroit
Dance party crasher; wordsmith; downtowner;Disney geek; whipped cream junkie; die-hard Tigers fan. Join me on on my epic quest for the perfect turkey reuben.
Kat Rembacki

Coffee is part of the morning routine for more than 68 million Americans. For some of us, it’s all about the caffeine; any half-warm mug of dark sludge will do as long as it perks us up enough to make it to the office.

But for those of us who really appreciate a well made cup of joe, coffee is more than just a morning jolt of energy. It’s a ritual to be savored. The rich aroma of properly roasted beans; the heat of a warm cup against your hands; the bitter, caramelized flavor.

Today is National Coffee Day, and whether you like yours black or light, iced or hot, decaf or with an extra shot, it’s a great day to celebrate the tropical little shrub that gives us life every morning. Read on for 15 places around the city to get your java fix today (and everyday).

Cappuccino from Dessert Oasis. Photo: Core Detroit.

Cappuccino from Dessert Oasis. Photo: Core Detroit.

Bella’s Coffee Y Algo Mas

On days when you need a little something to help you wake up, go for the cafe de olla (“little pot”). Named for the traditional clay pots used to make it, this coffee is swirling with the flavors of cinnamon and Mexican dark brown sugar.

We’re also fans of Bella’s champurrado, a rich, chocolatey concoction. Thickened with flour, its consistency is more like a warm bowl of chocolate soup than a beverage. It’s perfect for cookie dunking, and that is a totally acceptable breakfast if you ask us – the sugar kick is as good as a hit of caffeine.

Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company

The only thing that makes us happier than a rich cup of coffee in the morning is a bright glass of wine in the evening. Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company has managed to seamlessly combine these two delightful pleasures into one stylishly fabulous establishment.

The coffee menu is undeniably incredible. Coffee purists go gaga for their continuously rotating selection of freshly roasted, micro-lot, single-origin batches from places like Rwanda, Peru, Ethiopia, and Costa Rica. All of their coffee is certified organic and fairtrade, roasted in small batches for the best possible flavor. Each varietal is custom roasted based on the bean’s unique properties and flavor profile, using precise temperature controls and measurements. We’re huge fans of Great Lakes’ graham cracker latte, but know others who swear that a straight-up cup of joe (with just a splash of milk) is the only way to go.

In addition to the trendy pour over and french press preparations, Great Lakes is the only spot in town where you can find cold brewed coffee on draught. Do not confuse this for regular old iced coffee. The cold brew process requires beans to be soaked for a long period of time, sometimes more than 12 hours. Because the beans never come in contact with heated water, the lower acidity level makes cold brew coffee taste sweeter. The resulting brew can be served hot or cold.

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters

In geography terms, an oasis is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert. In coffee terms, it’s a haven for anyone who’s longing for a cafe that knows how to brew a flawless cup of joe…and maybe a little something for their sweet tooth, too.

That’s how we’d describe Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters (DOCR), which recently opened in Capitol Park. The shop has a big, open layout and an industrial vintage vibe, with raw cement floors and shelves peppered with knick knacks like glass milk jugs and motorcycle helmets. There’s plenty of high-top communal seating, where you can set your mug on gorgeous wooden slab tables and counters. Or grab a small cafe table near the back of the shop, where you can lounge without interruption for hours.

DOCR offers a rotating selection of handcrafted coffees, meticulously prepared using pour over methods.

Drifter Coffee

When we were kids, we always kept an eye (and an ear) out for the ice cream truck. It was our favorite summer treat. These days, the truck we keep an eye out for looks a little different.

If you see a vintage Scotty Serro parked nearby, stop what you’re doing and make your way over to the trailer as quickly as possible. It means Drifter Coffee is in town, and they’ve brought the good stuff.

The little white and turquoise sportsman is a classic first built in 1957. It harkens back to a golden age of camp-outs, family road trips and summers on the lake. When fully equipped it could sleep up to three people, but Alleah Webb – owner of Drifter Coffee – gutted the trailer and put in something even better: a mobile coffee shop. Their coffee is good. Like, really, really good. The service couldn’t be sweeter.

Arcane Coffee

If you’re normally not a fan of coffee because of its bitter flavor, the cold brew at Arcane Coffee – an artisanal coffee popup – can take you from coffee abstainer to java junkie in one cup flat.

The beans never come in contact with heated water, so the acidity level is low and the coffee tastes sweeter. We can swap our usual sugar-packed latte for a cold brew with a little milk –  the cold brew process really makes a difference. Even if you’re normally not a coffee drinker, give Arcane’s cold brew a try.

If you are a coffee drinker, on the other hand, welcome to Mecca.

Arcane’s cold brew is served in mason jars with resealable lids (you can also get it in a regular to-go cup but the jars are so much more fun). When you bring your jar back you’ll get $2 off your next coffee purchase.

Stella Good Coffee

These days, when it seems like there’s a flashy new spot popping up every other day, it can be easy to forget about old standbys that have always been there for us. That have always been good.

One sip from a Stella Good Coffee, and we don’t need any more reminding. Like a little black dress, this place is classic.

Stella has two locations: one in the Fisher Building in New Center, the other in the Guardian Building downtown. As jaw-dropping as their settings may be, the coffee is what really shines here. Every cup is brewed to order using a pour over method. The beans are roasted by Michigan-based Cadillac Coffee Company, with a few boutique blends supplied by Bay City’s Populace Coffee. They also have a lovely selection of loose leaf teas.

Astro Coffee

We’re over the moon for Astro Coffee in Corktown. Every sip of their bold, aromatic java will send you swooning into a state of bliss.

Every cup is brewed fresh to-order using a pour over method. The coffee beans are sourced from San Francisco’s Sight Glass, Intelligentsia in Chicago and Detroit’s own Anthology. The menu, presented on a chalkboard wall behind the counter, features Astro’s specialty brewed coffees, lattes, macchiatos, mocha concoctions and the like.

If you’re not in the mood for java, try the hot chocolate: it’s sinfully rich, with a hint of bitterness that let’s you know it was made from real chocolate not a powdered mix.

ASHE Supply Co.

The place has a moto-industrial vibe going on, with hints of skater punk and rugged outdoorsman carefully woven into the theme. There’s an actual vintage motorcycle in one corner, near the north entrance. In the opposite corner is a big copper roaster.

Antique handheld roasters and motorcycle helmets dot the ledge perched above the coffee bar and counter. Set into the bar are slabs of wood and copper piping, and hooks hang under the bar for handbags or coats (a detail we really appreciate). The copper barstools look like they were cleaved from some piece of industrial farming equipment.

Along the window you’ll find a series of wood slab tables with a mix of copper and weather-worn metal chairs. They make a surprisingly comfy spot to sip a perfect cup of joe and work on your laptop or just watch the foot traffic on Broadway.

The Roasting Plant

Stop by any given morning and you’ll find the Roasting Plant buzzing with the woosh, whir and gurgle of espressos and lattes being meticulously crafted. Aside from the intoxicating aroma of fresh coffee, the first thing you’ll notice is an imposing, slightly futuristic series of tubes and machines – a unique contraption which Roasting Plant calls Javabot.

Integral to the preparation of the perfect cup of coffee, Javabot holds green coffee beans in a series of clear storage columns. When it’s time for roasting, the beans are automatically measured out by weight then burst through the roaster through a series of clear pneumatic tubes, propelled by compressed air. The curved tubes are specifically designed to keep the freshly roasted beans from breaking in transit because breakage prematurely releases the bean’s flavor.

Roasting Plant’s beans are sourced from famous estates and independent growers in mountainous, tropical regions like Indonesia, East Africa and the Caribbean.  The shop offers 11 exclusive varietals as well as their signature House Blend. The selection includes exotic flavors like Jamaican blue mountain, mocha java, Ethiopian Harrar, Colombian and Sumatran. You can choose up to three different varietals to blend in a single cup. Every batch of coffee is roasted and brewed to order.

Motor City Java House

This spot’s bohemian interior is swathed in warm earth tones and eclectic decor, and the walls often showcase local artwork. There’s plenty of seating throughout two adjacent rooms: vintage wooden tables flanked by comfy couches and armchairs. Mismatched chairs add to the charm.

Despite its offbeat surroundings (or maybe because of them), the space is remarkably zen-like. The furniture itself seems to beckon you to lounge, stay awhile. The staff is friendly and incredibly welcoming.

The coffee here is beautifully made. Order a big mug of the house blend, or try a specialty varietal like hazelnut, french vanilla, breakfast blend, or french roast. The Jamaican Me Crazy blend is a popular favorite. If cappuccinos, lattes, or macchiatos are your thing, they’ve got those too. They even carry fair trade blends. Non-coffee drinkers can cozy up to a warm cup of tea or enjoy one of their delicious smoothies (strawberry peach is delightful).

The Bottom Line

Step inside this neighborhood coffeehouse in Midtown and you’ll immediately be delighted by the aroma of freshly brewed java. One flight down from street level, it feels like you’re descending into a cozy, underground oasis. The snug room with mismatched tables and armchairs has a comfortable, homey feel. The baristas are friendly and really know how to make a good cup of joe. 

Coffee is sourced from Righteous Bean in Centerline, MI, and their teas and espressos come from well-respected providers like Chicago-based Intelligentsia. The shop also offers fresh breads, cakes and cookies from nearby Traffic Jam & Snug. A lemon sugar cookie, honey wheat bread or caramel apple doughnut will pair perfectly with your fresh cup of joe.

Free WiFi and extended hours (until 11:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday) make this a popular spot among Wayne State students, or anyone who wants to linger over a proper latte in the evenings. 

Cafe Con Leche del Nord

Where Con Leche’s original southwest location had a warm, cozy, neighborhood cafe feel, the New Center shop – Nord – feels like a destination. It’s big and airy. Windows overlooking the boulevard let in lots of natural light, and a side door invites guests to step right outside into New Center Park.

Inside, the space has a clean white palette. Pillows on the cafe benches and couches are really the only splashes of color in the whole place. There’s interesting tile work, a geometric ceiling installation, and a fun L-shaped counter with bar seating. It’s still Spanish, but it’s Spanish-contemporary.

The menu offers many of the same favorites we love from the original location. Nord turns the volume up on lattes and cappuccinos with bold-flavored coffee. Even their normal pour over seems to have more “coffee” flavor. When we need a caffeine boost, we go for cortado, espresso with a small amount of milk. You may never go back to regular coffee again.

The Red Hook

Approachable and completely unpretentious, the Red Hook is a lovely hangout. The coffee shop is tucked onto Agnes Street in quiet but trendy West Village, on the same block as Detroit Vegan Soul and Craft Work.

The cafe is cozy and inviting. There are no plush, lounge-y couches, just simple two top tables with stools and a long wooden banquette that runs the length of one wall. But plenty of outlets and USB chargers around the dining room seem to invite you to stay a while, finish that presentation while you sip your macchiato. Edison style lamps – the bulbs exposed – illuminate the cafe, augmented by the rush of sunlight that pours in through the big front windows.

And the coffee itself? Yes, it’s good. So good. Like their Ferndale shop, Red Hook serves java from Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters. You can be sure your barista will be an expert in pulling the perfect cappuccino.

Always Brewing

Fourth-generation Detroiter Amanda Brewington first opened Always Brewing as a popup in November 2012, and established its permanent storefront in the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood in June 2013. This coffee shop and community gathering place has garnered a loyal following of families, students and young professionals.

Inside the cafe, an ornate ceiling is juxtaposed by simple lines and subdued colors at eye level. The seating area has lots of four top tables that can easily be pushed together for meetings or study sessions. Perusing the bookshelves is encouraged; they’re stacked with books and board games that can be borrowed while you enjoy your beverages.

Always Brewing offers a variety of coffee, tea, and espresso for every palate. The teas are loose leaf and the coffees fairtrade and organic, roasted locally by Chazzano Coffee in Ferndale. Your cup of joe can be assembled using french press, pour over, or even cold brew preparations. We recommend the pumpkin spice latte, which is bursting with all our favorite fall flavors.

Urban Bean Co.

This corner cafe features a fabulously retro orange exterior (the same color as the shag carpeting your parents had in the ‘70s) and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The two-story minimalist interior has a Mid-Century modern style. Head upstairs where the seating offers sweeping views of Capitol Park, which will be even nicer when the current redevelopment projects are completed. A DJ booth in the corner hosts artists spinning upbeat tunes and vibes on some evenings. The vibe is incredibly hip, yet laid back and very friendly.

Baristas serve up fresh brews from Great Lakes Coffee, drip or pour over style, as well as a selection of teas, Faygo, Vernors, and other beverages. Feeling indulgent? Try one of their specialty lattes like the Green Fairie, made with espresso, pistachio, white chocolate and milk, or the Pure Evil, a blend of espresso, amaretto, cherry and milk.

 

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