Metro Detroit's coffee culture has come a long way in a few short years, especially in the city proper, where just five years ago you were lucky to find a Starbucks. (Seriously. It was hard to find a freaking STARBUCKS.) Now we have a sea of caffeine-slingers, ranging from in-house roasters to third-wave coffeehouses with options for French press, siphon, and Chemex cups. There are also the more "standard" coffee joints serving espresso, lattes, and baked goods, as well as those that double as art galleries/performance spaces, and those that are any combination thereof. These are some of the best places around Metro Detroit for a cup of joe.
Opened by one of the partners of the longtime Downtown Detroit coffeehouse staple 1515 Broadway, Alley Cat Café brings that gathering space café culture to Downtown Pontiac, which is now undergoing a renaissance of its own, complete with neighborhood development catalyst, Slows Bar BQ, which will open inside the renovated historic Strand Theatre next year. Did we overshoot when we said Flint is the new Detroit? Is the new Detroit in fact much closer to home... in Pontiac? Time will tell! At least now there's a place to get good coffee, along with homemade soups and tasty sandwiches.
Much like every neighborhood needs its own brewery, every neighborhood also needs its own coffee shop. Always Brewing Detroit is the neighborhood coffee shop in Grandmont-Rosedale, and its focus is as much on the community as on the coffee. Always Brewing offers morning yoga, board game nights, craft nights, open mics, music performances, storytelling hours, and more, with coffee, tea, bagels, pastries, salads, and soups all sourced within 15 miles of the shop.
Owner/roaster Josh Longsdorf had previously been the roaster at Commonwealth in Birmingham before launching his own line of precisely roasted, seasonally fresh coffees from small producers often growing heirloom varietals. Anthology has done several pop-ups over the years that have included MOCAD and Shinola, but its permanent home is inside Ponyride, a co-working space and arts/business incubator in Corktown. Stock up on the bottled iced coffee to keep you cool AND caffeinated this summer.
Where once stood a Caribou Coffee is now the independently owned Atomic Coffee, from the same folks behind Royal Oak's Iron Horse. The shop serves espresso, lattes, cold brews, and teas, with soups and other food items made from scratch in-house and baked goods from local bakeries. Stop in for a hearty sandwich or breakfast quiche with your coffee before strolling around the Royal Oak shops, or just settle in by the cozy fireplace for some quality Wi-Fi time.
Everything that Crane's on Broadway got wrong -- so, basically, everything -- ASHE Supply Co. seems to be getting right. Part of the Gilbertville family of businesses, ASHE serves house-roasted micro-lot and co-op coffees brewed via pour-over, siphon, and Chemex, AND has cold brew on nitro. Locally made pastries and goods from folks like Sister Pie, Avalon, and Detroit Institute of Bagels are offered. Finally, the space doubles as a clothing retailer, because coffee and retail seem to be a popular new pairing in Detroit (see also: Shinola, Cairo Coffee).
The closing of the original Southwest location earlier this year was a sad moment in Detroit's coffee shop and small business history. But Café Con Leche is still roasting its own beans and serving up all the coffee drinks and bistro menu items you've come to love at the New Center location, Café Con Leche Nord, which is as much a treat for the eyes as the coffee is for the mouth thanks to its sexy, stark-white, modern design.
Because where else can you get coffee (including the Mexican coffee specialty, café de olla), raw juices, chocolate shakes, and tortas all in one spot in Detroit? Rhetorical question; you can't.
Owner and roaster Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo is a straight-up coffee savant, and if you are interested in coffee beyond just its morning utility, he's the guy to talk to. Stop by the café on 9 Mile just west of I-75 for an exquisite coffee and a cupping to increase your knowledge (or just hang out and enjoy the free Wi-Fi). No food here, though: this place is 100% about the java.
Located inside Savvy Chic and now operating full-time, Cairo Coffee serves up coffees from Counter Culture in Durham, and pastries from folks like Astro Coffee.
Commonwealth continues to be the best thing about Birmingham, with house-roasted coffees brewed via pour-over, cold brew for hot days, and breakfast, brunch, and lunch items made from scratch in-house, often with local and organic ingredients. Try the fried egg sandwich or the vegan sourdough banana pancake with homemade "Nutella," and relax in the stylish, sunny space with lots of magazines and free Wi-Fi.
Allen Park, the gateway to Detroit/Taylor (depending on which direction you're traveling on I-94) has been stepping up its game lately, and frankly, it's about time. In addition to a new gastropub, Griff's, that has been getting glowing reviews, there is also City Coffeehouse, a latte-centric spot for all the teens of Melvindale and Allen Park to hang out... which is another very important role to fulfill in the coffeehouse ecosystem.
Capitol Park & Rochester
The Rochester-based coffee roaster has opened a new location in Capitol Park, and the space is quite handsome. Grab a pour-over of one of its specialty house-roasted coffees like a Burundi Karinzi, dig into a house-baked pastry, and enjoy some live music.
Because this writer felt weird cutting it before and feels even weirder not including it now, Germack is a great space located right on Russell St in prime Eastern Market real estate, and serves a solid cup of house-roasted coffee as well as a wide selection of Michigan-made artisan food products. Do include this as part of your Eastern Market shopping rounds!
Great Lakes, also known as the Institute for Advanced Drinking, is another stylish café with reclaimed wood and thoughtful design elements as well as excellent house-roasted coffee, with the added advantage of also being a full bar with one of the most interesting craft cocktail, beer, and wine programs in the city. It also serves snacks like cheese and charcuterie boards, nuts and olives, pickled veggies, salads and sandwiches, and pastries from local bakeries, and tends to be a central gathering place for the who's-who of Detroit.
Every inch as much an art gallery as it is a damn fine coffeehouse, Fourteen East hosts regular exhibitions featuring the work of Detroit-area artists, and serves items like house-made pumpkin spice lattes (made with pumpkin puree and spices), hot chocolate made with Pete's Chocolate Co. truffles, house-made sweet and savory pastries, soups, and sandwiches. For all the "buzz" (LOLZ) a lot of other coffeehouses around town get, this one often gets overlooked, which is a shame.
The Office is a coffee shop and co-working space across the street from the Royal Oak Music Theatre that serves fair-trade organic coffees and loose-leaf teas, as well as a bare-bones food menu that includes items like bagel sandwiches and vegan pastries. Spacious, stylish, and sunny, The Office looks like a place you could plunk down in the middle of Midtown and it would fit right in. Plus, as a co-working space, there are no membership fees, no office leases, secure high-speed internet, private offices/conference rooms/training, and event spaces for rent, as well as access to AV equipment, and all of the amenities of a FedEx. It is the first co-working space in Royal Oak, and pretty much a dream for the out-of-office worker.
We didn't include this at first because it's not a "coffee house," per se. But the pies and pastries are so damn divine, and there's a great cup of coffee to go with them in this tres adorable West Village café, so its absence had to be rectified.
Ferndale & West Village
With coffees from Stumptown Coffee Roasters and pastries from Pinwheel Bakery (located inside the Ferndale location), as well as snacks from other area businesses like Rose's Fine Food, the Red Hook is consistently one of the best places in metro Detroit for a coffee and snack, though coffee squatting can sometimes be a challenge, as seating is limited at both locations. Still, if you're lucky enough to snag a seat, these cafes are among the most charming.
From the fine folks behind Pure Detroit as well as the Rowland Café and Stella International Café in the stunning Guardian Building, Stella Good Coffee is a sexy space fully decked out in reclaimed wood from Reclaim Detroit in the equally stunning Fisher Building. The difference between the original Stella International Café it was before it switched over to this new concept in 2013 is kind of the difference between a Starbucks kiosk in the mall and the flagship Starbucks Reserve store.
First, order an espresso shot to have inside and enjoy the funky ceramic cups they are served in, which sort of look like mutant oyster shells. Second, order a pour-over with beans from Detroit's Anthology, Ypsilanti's Hyperion, or San Francisco's Ritual. Third, order something from the breakfast or lunch menu, because it is made from scratch in-house and is consistently excellent. Fourth, check out the current exhibition, peruse the collection at Peoples Records, or stick around for some live music. Trinosophes is the best of a whole lot of worlds, and worth the jaunt over to the other side of Gratiot from Eastern Market.
If a DJ saved your life last night, then let Urban Bean Co. save your body in the morning with a Pure Evil latte and fat-and-sugar-laden Dutch Girl donuts, which are sometimes exactly the thing you need. And then stick around for DJs spinning upstairs on weekends so you can do it all over again.
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Nicole Rupersburg drinks a lot of coffee, until she switches over to beer. Much of her life is spent treading that fine line between coffee time and beer time. Follow her on Instagram: @eatsdrinksandleaves.
1. Alley Cat Cafe, Pontiac
2. Always Brewing Detroit19180 Grand River Ave, Detroit
3. Anthology Coffee1401 Vermont St, Detroit
4. Ashe Supply Co. Café & Roasterie, Detroit
5. Astro Coffee2124 Michigan Ave, Detroit
6. Atomic Coffee401 S Main St, Royal Oak
7. Bella's Coffee House2303 Campbell St, Detroit
8. Cafe Con Leche4200 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit
9. Cairo Coffee2712 Riopelle St, Detroit
10. Chazzano Coffee Roasters1737 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale
11. Commonwealth300 Hamilton Row, Birmingham
12. City Coffeehouse6623 Allen Rd, Allen Park
13. Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters336 S Main St, Rochester
14. Germack Coffee Roasting Co.2509 Russell St, Detroit
15. Great Lakes Coffee3965 Woodward Ave, Detroit
16. Fourteen East Cafe14 East Kirby, Detroit
17. The Office Coffee Shop402 S Lafayette, Royal Oak
18. Sister Pie8066 Kercheval Ave, Detorit
19. The Red Hook Detroit8025 Agnes St, Detroit
20. Stella Cafe500 Griswold St, Detroit
21. Trinosophes1464 Gratiot, Detroit
22. Urban Bean Coffee200 Grand River Ave, Detroit
Alley Cat Cafe is owned by the partners of the downtown coffeehouse staple 1515 Broadway, so this Pontiac coffeeshop has the ownership to back up its high-quality coffee reputation. The area has become an epicenter for arts and culture, and this cozy coffee shop is the perfect place to curl up with a good book. In addition to coffee, Ally Cat Cafe offers homemade soups and a wide array of sandwiches.
This family coffee shop in Grandmont-Rosedale features local artwork on the walls and communal tables to sit at. There's even live music here on some days. With a big focus on bringing the community together, Always Brewing often hosts events such as morning yoga, board-game nights and storytelling hours. Additionally, all of the coffee, tea, bagels, pastries, salads, and soups are sourced within 15 miles of the shop, which makes this coffee shop as authentically Detroit as they come.
Commonwealth veteran Josh Longsdorf is the roaster behind this co-working Corktown space that does triple duty as a tasting room, cafe, and workshop. Stock up on the bottled iced coffee, or take a hot chocolate for here and pair it with a slice of fruit cake. The space offers free-wifi, so you can feel free to bring a laptop and stay for a while.
This downtown third wave coffee establishment serves house-roasted micro-lot and co-op coffees brewed via pour-over, siphon, and Chemex. The local space offers window seating, communal tables, and small tables, and all your favorite locally made pastries and goods from folks like Sister Pie, Avalon, and Detroit Institute of Bagels are offered.
Astro Coffee is a small and cozy cafe best known as the first place in Detroit to get a proper pour-over, but it is also known as the place with the kick-ass egg sandwich, which comes with soft-scrambled eggs, fresh herbs, and an extra-garlicky aioli on a Zingerman's rustic Italian roll. Flat whites are also exceptional here.
Pour overs, nitro cold brews, espressos, teas, and fresh fruit drinks are just a few of beverages offered at Atomic Coffee in Royal Oak. This sleek, trendy cafe features espresso, lattes, cold brews and teas, and their house-made honey-vanilla simple syrup is a must-have. The food items are made from scratch in-house and baked goods from local bakeries, and it is all best enjoyed while snuggling up to the warm fireplace.
Bella's Coffee House in Southwest Detroit is the only place in the city that you can get coffee (including the Mexican coffee specialty, café de olla), raw juices, chocolate shakes, and tortas in one spot. The interior is very bare-bones, but you can't miss the bright orange exterior. Make sure you stop by an ATM before indulging in the varied menu; it's cash only.
Housed in a warmly lit, stark white, and modern space in New Center, Cafe Con Leche prepares espresso-based drinks and savory bistro menu items for the grab-and-go crowd. Its coffee beverages are made with beans roasted in-house, which impart their signature cubanos, Mexican mochas, and house coffees with a uniquely Cafe Con Leche flavor.
Based in Savvy Chic, this local favorite serves up coffee prepared with Counter Culture beans, and pastries from neighborhood standby Astro Coffee. Notably, the shop carries natural coffee, which are original and earthy in nature thanks to their drying process.
The owner at Chazzano serves you more than a standard cup of coffee. Equipped with espresso knowledge beyond standard steaming methods, the roaster will school you on everything from its organic fair trade beans, to brewing methods. Stop by for an exquisite coffee, and try the French press if you haven't. No food here, though: this place is 100% about the java.
Brunch might be the main attraction at this Birmingham coffee spot, but steamed milk art-adorned lattes, Americanos, and hearty cappuccinos keep the refreshing, tiled space regularly crowded. With regards to those memorable eats, stop by for Tandoori chicken salads and bacon omelettes and enjoy your first actually filling coffeeshop meal.
Sometimes you want caffeine, and other times you want a treat. For the times you're in the mood for both, City Coffeehouse delivers a selection of sugar-loaded beverages, including banana nut lattest, white chocolate macademia frappucinos, and brown sugar cinnamon hot chocolates. The red-washed, art-filled coffee house has plenty of couches and love seats, so when the sugar rush dips, you'll have a comfortable spot to nod off.
Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is based in Rochester but also has a location in Capitol Park. Both locations are handsome in nature, and it creates the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a specialty house-roasted coffee like a Burundi Karinzi. If you're hungry, pair the high-quality coffee with a house-baked pastry, and live music is often playing during the nighttime.
Because the previous lack of quick coffee options in Eastern Market was simply nutty, Germack Pistachio Companyopened a cafe with a no-nonsense exposed brick & wood interior, where they're brewing espressos, cappuccinos, Americanos, and French press or pour-over cups of their own beans that are roasted just steps away, like Costa Rican Tarrazu, Sumatra Mandheling, or Ethiopian Harrar.
Great Lakes has a bit of everything: great coffee, tasty small plates, and rotating wines and cocktails. They focus on small scale productions and locally-sourced ingredients, with awesome offerings like cold-brewed coffee ON TAP and house-made syrups and infusions for their cocktails. The Midtown coffee shop has become a gathering place with the warm atmosphere featuring reclaimed wood and smart design elements, it's easy to see why.
Fourteen East is a small Midtown cafe that has modern decor, great lighting, and delicious coffee to choose from. They even serve Chazzano coffee roasters. However, Fourteen East could easily be an art gallery as well, often housing exhibitions of work from Detroit-area artists. They also serve housemade sweet and savory pastries, soups, and sandwiches.
The Office Coffee Shop in Royal Oak serves fair-trade organic coffees and loose-leaf teas, as well as a bare-bones food menu that includes items like bagel sandwiches and vegan pastries. The coffeeshop is spacious and airy, which makes it the perfect place to plunk down and work. In fact, The Office Coffee Shop is actually a co-working space and features all the amenities of FedEx for free. It's a bit of a dream for someone who works from home and wants a change of pace.
West Village's Sister Pie is renowned for its unique pie recipes, always prepared using thick, flaky hand-kneaded crusts using a high-fat butter that gives each bite a melt-in-your-mouth texture. You can pick from options like salted maple, ginger peach, and blueberry plum, and relax, slice in hand, in an intimate space that aspires to an indoor backyard.
West Village's The Red Hook, an expansion of the Ferndale location, is just the café this neighborhood needed: light-filled, austere, and serving expertly made coffee from Stumptown beans. The owners hail from Brooklyn's Red Hook, and have brought New York's cafe culture along with them. Edison lights shine on hard wooden banquettes, and walls are lined with charging ports so you can work while you get your caffeine fix. Pies, muffins, scones, and croissants are brought in daily from nearby Pinwheel bakery.
Stella Cafe in New Center is housed in the beautiful Fisher building, and its sexy interior with reclaimed wood from Reclaim Detroit will have you wanting to stay hours to soak in its opulence. The shop features high quality pour-over coffee, pastries, and they also sell little tea & coffee accessories, candy, and coffee mugs.
Serving coffee and tea against a backdrop of visual art and live music, Trinosophes lets you get your fill of caffeine and culture in one place. The Eastern Market coffeeshop serves its espresso shots in eclectic ceramic cups that looks like abstract oyster shells. Trinosophes also features beans from Detroit's Anthology, Ypsilanti's Hyperion, or San Francisco's Ritual. Besides the coffee, the food is superb and made completely from scratch in-house, and the neighboring Peoples Records is a must-stop.
This Downtown corner coffee shop serves artisanal coffee drinks in addition to baked goods from local vendors. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow patrons to gaze out onto the streets, and a celebration of electronic music ensure that DJs will be spinning as the day goes on.