Detroit's Best Local Coffee Shops for Your Daily Caffeine Fix
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.
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.
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.