Coffee Houses

485. Lula’s Café – November 5, 2020 – Shelby Township, MI

Yay for Lula’s Café!

The Shelby Township-based restaurant/coffee shop serves an assortment of caffeinated beverages and meals that are both healthful and decadent (see the Buddha quinoa bowl with its goat cheese, egg, and assortment of veggies and the “Chocolate” Pudding made from avocado, cacao, and maple syrup). It boasts breakfast-centric items such as the goodness-laden Acai Bowl and hearty Breakfast Burrito, plus protein-and-plant-packed bowls, salads, wraps, and smoothies.

The café’s interior is minimalist-chic with its predominantly black-and-white color palette and exposed-bulb lighting, but it also manages to feel cozy and welcoming, with homey touches such as chalkboard menus and a profusion of potted plants. The staff member who assisted me augmented those welcoming vibes with her kind and conversational demeanor; she made me feel at home at Lula’s, even though I was there for only a few minutes.

I contemplated lingering longer when I saw Lula’s patio. With its cheerful lime-green chairs and strands of overhead lights, it enticed me to sit and stay a while. I almost did! But after hours of running errands, my home’s pull exuded more power.

My lunch from Lula’s, the Southwest salad (sans cheese), was AWESOME with its ample chunks of tender grilled chicken, turkey bacon, corn, diced red onion, and avocado on a bed of fresh spinach and drizzled with creamy chipotle dressing. This was my second time eating the salad; a friend had brought me carryout from Lula’s back in September. Because somewhere doesn’t count as a new-place visit unless I go there myself, I had an excuse to again eat from Lula’s – which I’m more than happy to have done!

45271 Market St.

Shelby Twp., MI 48315

www.lulas-cafe.com

483. The Gathering Coffee Co. – October 6, 2020 – Detroit, MI

October 6 was a day worth celebrating. Not only was it my birthday, but with my jaunt to The Gathering Coffee Co. in Detroit, it was my first coffee shop visit in over eight months! Adoring indie coffee houses as I do, this was a Cue-the-Confetti! moment.

You know I had to celebrate my special day with a trip to the D! And what could be more special than visiting a coffee shop that dared to open this summer amidst a pandemic?

According to its website, the Milwaukee Junction-based business is a “philanthropic missioned coffee company, seeking to use storytelling and gathering tables as key components to create and promote unity within the local community and city; standing with the belief that together, we are capable of more than we ever could do alone.”

It’s certainly cultivated a beautiful space from which to carry out that mission. Gathering’s interior is industrial-chic with its concrete floors, wood-beam ceiling with exposed ductwork, walls of brick and stark white, and gracefully curved barista counter constructed from grainy wood. Vases of fresh flowers grace tables, and potted plants hold state. Portraits, presumably of local community members, collage one wall, while a striking mural – a sketch of several sets of closely-gathered hands grasping plants – dominates another. Both art displays aptly encapsulate the coffee house’s community-centered focus.

I wanted to immerse myself in that space, to sit in it and admire it as I sipped my beverage. Alas, my COVID protocol excludes indoor dining! So I was happy to see that Gathering had tables set outdoors, in the strip of grass facing its storefront.

I took the iced oat milk latte with a house-made maple whiskey syrup that I ordered from the cheerful barista out to one of those tables. Full disclosure: I lasted less than 10 minutes in the nippy wind and shadows. But the drink was delicious; the espresso in it was on point, richly flavored, and the oat milk was nice and creamy. My birthday was officially a flavorful one thanks to The Gathering Coffee Co.

2831 E. Grand Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48211

www.gatheringcoffee.com

462. AWAKE Café – January 30, 2020 – Detroit, MI

January2020AWAKECafe1 (2)January2020AWAKECafe2 (3)~Indie coffee house alert!~

I’m a sucker for locally-owned coffee shops, so you know I’m excited to post about my visit to AWAKE Café!

Warm and welcoming: that’s the impression this coffee house based in the Midtown neighborhood of Detroit left on me. From its kind staff to its delectable food and drink to its aesthetically pleasing, cozy environs with soothing instrumental music playing in the background, AWAKE Café encouraged me to make my visit a several-hour sojourn.

Sitting at a window-facing counter seat, typing away on my computer and savoring first a bold-flavored cold-brew iced coffee, then a beautifully nuanced, pine-infused hot tea (potentially weird-sounding, I know, but it was delightful) and one of the ooey, gooey, oh-so-tasty house-made cinnamon rolls, I felt thoroughly comfortable and at home at AWAKE Café. It’s a wonderful working environment, conducive to creating that in-the-flow momentum that makes work feel almost effortless.

Not only does AWAKE offer coffee and tea drinks and baked goods, it also proffers breakfast items, smoothies, sandwiches, and salads. Yay to offering square meals!

And about that coffee: by purchasing it, AWAKE Café is helping to support an organization called Evangelistic Faith Mission, which runs a coffee farm in Honduras that employs locals and benefits their economy. So when you frequent AWAKE Café, you can drink delicious coffee AND support a good cause – a definite win-win in my book!

4224 Third St.

Detroit, MI 48201

(Closed Sundays and Mondays)

www.awakedetroit.com

456. Cairo Coffee – December 31, 2019 – Detroit, MI

December2019CairoCoffee1 (2)December2019CairoCoffee2 (2)I know New Year’s Eve harkens to champagne in terms of liquid imbibing, but it was a cozy cappuccino that was in order during my afternoon jaunt to Cairo Coffee on the last day of 2019 (the bubbly stuff came later).

The coffee house occupies a nook of Savvy Chic, a shop that sells fashionable clothes, accessories, home goods, and gift items (and which I need to revisit to explore! It wasn’t open for business on the day of my visit) that’s based in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Detroit.

I would classify Cairo Coffee as the tiny-homes version of coffee houses, occupying as it does minimal space with its barista counter and two tables. But it’s small-yet-mighty, this coffee shop! And as with any tiny home worth its salt, Cairo Coffee makes good use of its allotted space, offering a variety of beverages, including pour-over coffee and espresso- and tea-based drinks, plus baked goodies.

The barista working Cairo Coffee’s counter on the day of my visit was pleasant and welcoming and made me an EXCELLENT cappuccino, well-flavored and delicious to savor. I sat at one of the tables and read a book I’d brought while I sipped it.

Speaking of books: Cairo Coffee has its own lending library from which patrons can check out items (again, this business is making the most of limited space – see the bookshelves built into the barista counter in the photo above!).

Friendly vibes, fresh-brewed caffeinated goodness, AND a library? Now THAT is a swoon-worthy combination for this coffee house-loving bookworm!

2712 Riopelle St.

Detroit, MI 48207

(Closed Sundays and Mondays)

www.cairocoffeeblog.wordpress.com

452. Lucky Coffee – December 15, 2019 – Detroit, MI

December2019LuckyDetroitCoffee2 (2)On a Sunday afternoon back in mid-December, I visited (without consciously planning it) two establishments with the word “lucky” in their monikers: Pho Lucky and Lucky Coffee.

Probably I should have bought a lottery ticket that day, with all that coincidental emphasis on the word lucky hailing from the Universe. Well, I missed that opportunity, but I still feel like I hit the jackpot that day, because I discovered how lovely Lucky Coffee is!

The Corktown-based coffee shop is on the second floor of Detroit Barber Co. To get to Lucky Coffee, you enter the barber shop and go up a flight of stairs near the front door, then navigate through a suite of barber chairs on the second floor. The coffee house is beyond them, in its own room.

Once there, you feel like you are in another world, a cozy, bygone world. Lucky Coffee has an antique-saloon feel to it – except that coffee, tea, and espresso drinks are being slung instead of vodka, scotch, and whiskey. (Baked goodies are available, too.)

Speaking of booze, Lucky Coffee does offer a vanilla bourbon latte, which I ordered during my visit. It was rich and sweet, a delight to savor; it reminded me of toasted marshmallows. According to the barista on duty when I remarked on that to him, I was the only one to have theretofore made that flavor-profile comparison (I hope he knows I meant it as a compliment; it was tasty!). If you visit Lucky Coffee and get that vanilla bourbon latte, you’ll have to share in the comments section below whether you agree with my assessment!

Because I enjoyed hanging out so much at Lucky Coffee, soaking in its brick walls and plank floors and grand wood-fronted counter and crystal chandeliers and strings of bare lightbulbs and old-timey memorabilia (a mounted moose head; a striped barber’s pole; a rusted tin sign advertising prescriptions) and the sunshine streaming in from the window I perched near, I opted for another drink after I finished that vanilla bourbon latte. Consulting with the barista over tea lattes, I ordered the Earl Grey latte that he recommended; he said he’d concocted the syrup himself.

What beautifully nuanced flavor that latte had! I love Earl Grey tea, but I’ve noticed how the flavor profile varies from brand to brand; the bergamot flavor isn’t consistent, and sometimes I find it to be too weak. This latte had the perfect amount of bergamot flavor, in my opinion, as well as a nice sweetness.

My visit to Lucky Coffee left me buoyed by caffeine and contentment – and certainly feeling fortunate that I’d discovered another awesome indie coffee shop in the area (no lottery win required for those good vibes!).

2000 Michigan Ave., 2nd Fl.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.luckydetroit.com

450. Detroit Sip – December 7, 2019 – Detroit, MI

December2019DetroitSip1 (3)December2019DetroitSip2 (2)I love the spirit of Detroit Sip, exemplified by the motto emblazoned on a wall of its interior: “Uniting the community one sip at a time.”

When I visited the Detroit-based, independently-owned coffee shop near the University of Detroit Mercy campus earlier this month, I definitely felt welcomed into community by the owner, who was working the counter that day. She was lovely, chatting with me about the shop and her background and asking me questions about myself as she made my cappuccino, while a man who was visiting with her joined in on the conversation.

I spent about an hour at Detroit Sip during that visit, settled into a comfy armchair near the windows. Soaking up the warm sunlight streaming in, the delicious, caffeine-infused richness of the cappuccino, and the overall cheery vibes of the place made configuring my monthly budget MUCH more enjoyable (here’s to making tedious tasks pleasant with a change in scenery!).

While I loved this prime window perch, I appreciated Detroit Sip’s other, ample seating options, including at brightly-painted tables splashed with uplifting sayings. Festive holiday decorations festooned the walls during my visit, while a Christmas tree graced one corner.

Besides offering tasty coffee and tea drinks, Detroit Sip serves fresh-baked goodies and snacks from beloved local vendors, such as Germack and Faygo. Handmade jewelry for sale is also on display.

In today’s world, community can feel difficult to find – but as I was reminded of by my visit to Detroit Sip, a sense of community is really not hard to foster. Simply visiting somewhere new and engaging in conversation with the people you find there can make the world a much more friendly, connected place. Thanks, Detroit Sip, for reminding me of that!

7420 W. McNichols Rd.

Detroit, MI 48221

(Open Thursdays through Sundays)

www.detroitsip.com

448. Spread Deli – November 29, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019SpreadDeli1 (3)November2019SpreadDeli2 (3)November2019SpreadDeli3 (2)Spread Deli, thank you for being you!

The deli/coffee shop based in the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit served up a mega-tasty, mega-huge sandwich to me during Thanksgiving weekend (because you know me: instead of braving the malls on Black Friday, I was trying new places!). And it did so with a friendliness that made me feel welcome to stay and hang, which I did for a while.

I started out my visit to Spread with its Big Al sandwich, a gargantuan and most delectable concoction of sliced turkey breast, mashed avocado, lettuce, onion, tomato, provolone cheese, and sriracha-infused mayo. The sandwich came with a bag of kettle-cooked potato chips and was so filling that I opted to take half of it home.

Then, from Spread’s coffee bar, I ordered a cappuccino. I savored its delicious flavor and ample amount of foam (good foam action: so integral to a cappuccino!) while I typed away at my computer from a stool at the window-facing counter.

While I was facing that window and the streetscape beyond it while at Spread, I dug the deli’s interior and the contrast between its white walls and the vibrant artwork displayed on them. Those walls were also host to numerous scrawlings (spelling out messages of gratitude for Spread and the always-fun-to-read variety of musings).

While I ate and drank and worked, patrons filtered in and out of the restaurant; Spread’s owner (who was working the sandwich counter) seemed to know most of them. I love when places foster that sense of community and repeat customers. And I know from personal experience: Spread Deli is worthy of a repeat visit!

4215 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.spreaddelidetroit.com

425. Madcap Coffee – August 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

August2019Madcap1 (3)August2019Madcap2 (2)Madcap Coffee – what a delight it is to recount my visit last month to this coffee shop in Detroit. It’s also making me crave their coffee something fierce!

Coffee shops, with their ability to make me feel as if I stepping away from the oft-chaotic world into one of tranquility and divine caffeination, have long enchanted me. So it’s always a treat to visit a new one, especially when the shop is independently owned (because we heart indie and Michigan-owned establishments here on 100 Places in the D!) and as fantastic as Madcap Coffee is.

Us Metro-Detroiters are fortunate that the Grand Rapids-based coffee chain recently opened a location in downtown Detroit, because Madcap Coffee brews some good coffee. The cappuccino and nitro cold-brew coffee I enjoyed there were excellent.

Stepping inside Madcap’s sleek, stark interior, I’ll admit that I mentally prepared to be met with pretension. Instead, I was greeted with warm friendliness by a barista and received some of the best customer service there that I have in recent times. Silly me, pre-judging a place based off of its décor!

Madcap continued to wow me with its coffee. Its cappuccino was rich, creamy, and flavorful.

Being a lightweight, I could have stopped right there, having achieved my caffeine quota for the day with that cappuccino, but I couldn’t leave Madcap without also sampling the nitro cold-brew coffee, which I had spied whilst waiting for the cappuccino and which intrigued me – because, nitro cold brew?! It tastes as amazing as it sounds, luxuriously rich and creamy; it goes down easy.

I visited Madcap for a few hours, first while perched at a counter seat inside, then at one of the outside tables scattered before its storefront, where I basked in the sun while sipping my nitro cold brew and tapping away at my computer.

Not only does Madcap have interior and exterior seating, it also has interior and exterior ordering counters. The front of the shop opens up to make it open-air, and people can walk over to the counter there and order off of the street rather than entering the shop. Presumably, this part of the coffee house will be closed during the cold-weather months, but in the meantime, it’s a cool feature.

I left Madcap Coffee with a bounce in my step, invigorated by new-place vibes and caffeine pulsing through my veins, happy to have discovered another coffee-house haven.

1413 Farmer St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.madcapcoffee.com

421. Drifter Coffee – August 6, 2019 – Ferndale, MI

August2019DrifterCoffee1 (2)August2019DrifterCoffee2 (2)My visit to Drifter Coffee inserted a little slice of tranquility into an otherwise busy day. I’d long been wanting to visit the Ferndale-based coffee shop, and I’m glad I finally did on a Tuesday afternoon in early August. I got to enjoy its warm hospitality, homey ambiance, and delicious coffee – not to mention, the mean chocolate-chip shortbread cookie it serves!

The shop gets its name from the business’ heritage of being a coffee purveyor on wheels. Drifter Coffee started out as a purely mobile establishment, selling its wares for four years from what it lovingly refers to on its website as its “coffee caboose,” a sweet vintage travel trailer.

The Ferndale-based shop opened earlier this year, in partnership with local coffee roaster Gooseneck Coffee Co., which has its roasting room on site. Yay for indie-business fusion! The coffee caboose still roves about town, vending Drifter Coffee’s goodies at sites such as Eastern Market and the Wayne State Farmers Market.

While I haven’t had the pleasure of encountering Drifter Coffee’s mobile storefront, I loved the vibes of its storefront planted in Ferndale, just down the road from Urbanrest Brewing.

It’s a beautiful space. The lower level is bright and airy and hosts the coffee counter and a seating area featuring a wall of windows and a plethora of potted plants. Outdoor seating is also available.

Upstairs is another seating area with a variety of places from which to perch: cushy couches and chairs, tables, and even a desk. This area is furnished more like someone’s home than a coffee shop; it’s cozy, with lots of books strewn about, more potted plants, and even a throw blanket nestled upon one of its couches. I loved kicking back in this upstairs seating area whilst savoring the richly-flavored iced coffee and tasty chocolate-chip shortbread cookie I’d ordered from the friendly baristas downstairs.

Indie coffee shops are my jam, and I’m always psyched to find a great one. Drifter Coffee is, most definitely, a great one!

770 Woodward Hts.

Ferndale, MI 48220

(Closed Mondays)

www.driftercoffee.com

407. Che Cosa – May 11, 2019 – Clinton Township, MI

May2019CheCosa1 (2)May2019CheCosa2 (2)May2019CheCosa3 (2)Che Cosa!!! I got excited when I realized the next post on the docket for 100 Places in the D was this one for the Clinton Township-based coffee house, because I totally dig this place.

On a busy Saturday in mid-May, I was between engagements and looking to kill time at a coffee shop, and I’d long been curious about Che Cosa, which happily fit logistically into the scheme of my day. So I stopped in to see what it was all about.

The interior of Che Cosa is cozy, with furnishings (such as the plush leather couch shown above) that make you feel as if you’re hanging out in someone’s home. Then you see the tall metal shelf loaded with large jars of roasted beans, and it’s abundantly clear that you are in a shop that is serious about its coffee.

After waiting on a rush of customers ahead of me, the woman working the counter that morning explained that shelf of beans to me. She said the owner of Che Cosa roasts the many varieties of coffee beans on display and adds flavoring to some.  Beans with luxurious-sounding flavorings, such as Banana Nut Bread and Cinnamon Danish, are available for purchase via a cup of fresh-brewed coffee or bagged for at-home brewing.

Foods such as soup, ice cream, and biscotti are available for purchase at Che Cosa, too. But I was all about the liquid caffeinated goodness that day.

I was tempted to order a cup of coffee made with the flavored beans (Southern Pecan Pie, you were calling my name!), but in the end I went with my old-faithful coffee-shop order: a cappuccino. And I was glad I ordered that cappuccino, because it was the best one I could remember drinking!

The word that kept coming to mind as I sipped Che Cosa’s cappuccino was “balanced.” Its flavors were perfectly balanced: the espresso didn’t taste burnt, nor watered down by too much milk, and there was an ideal amount of foam. That Che Cosa cappuccino was perfect.

Not only was the coffee at Che Cosa delicious, but I really enjoyed how welcoming it felt to be there. For most of the time that I hung out there, I chatted with the woman working the counter and a gentleman who was a Che Cosa regular. He told me about his life, and I told him about mine, and the barista chimed in about her life, and it was just a really, really nice experience to connect with some kindly strangers during an outing when I’d simply been looking to kill some time and check out a new place. Cozy, community-fostering, and brewing up a damn good cappuccino: that’s Che Cosa for ya!

Worth noting: Che Cosa’s hours of operation appear to vary, so it’s worth calling before a visit to make sure it’s open.

24394 Crocker Blvd.

Clinton Twp., MI 48036

Phone: (586) 477-1200