Coffee Houses

400! Civitas Coffee House – March 19, 2019 – Hazel Park, MI

March2019Civitas1 (2)Visit Number 400 is hitting 100 Places in the D!!! Say hello to Civitas Coffee House of Hazel Park.

I adore indie coffee shops with their funky, cozy vibes, sense of community-fostering, and ability to make me feel as if I’m hiding away from the oft-chaotic world for a moment of blissful respite. So I was excited to visit this new-to-me one for some tranquil journaling time (fueled by a caffeine jolt, naturally).

The interior of Civitas Coffee House has a welcoming ambiance, with warm wood paneling, ample natural lighting, and walls painted a denim blue. During my visit in mid-March, tiny vases holding lime-green carnations graced each table.

I visited Civitas Coffee House for about 45 minutes, sipping a cappuccino whilst writing and enjoying the coffee-shop ambiance. The experience provided me with that special feeling of repose that only coffee houses can evoke, so: mission accomplished, Civitas!

Reflecting upon the milestone of this visit five months after it occurred (better late than never, eh?), I’m amazed by the fact that up to this point – and in just over five years – I’d visited 400 new-to-me, locally-owned places in the Metro-Detroit area. FOUR HUNDRED! Here’s to the magic of starting a project and seeing where it takes you.

906 E. 9 Mile Rd.

Hazel Park, MI 48030

(Closed Sundays)

https://civitas-coffee-house.business.site/

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398. Three Cats Café – March 15, 2019 – Clawson, MI

March2019ThreeCatsCafe1 (2)March2019ThreeCatsCafe2 (2)March2019ThreeCatsCafe4 (2)After my visit to the lovely Leon & Lulu on a Friday night in mid-March, I continued on to the Three Cats Café, its sister business just next-door.

I was enchanted with the place. The Clawson-based establishment is more than a café housed in a former movie theater, its glittery marquee intact and its street-facing ticket booth still present, complete with a “talking” vendor mannequin rattling off facts about the place. It’s also an expansive shop selling artwork, mugs, handmade cards, and other perfect-for-gifting goodies, much of which are locally made and/or Michigan-centric.

The café counter of Three Cats Café is in the front of the building, near the entrance, while the shop/seating area is behind it. The nature of my visit (a pre-dinner-date jaunt) didn’t allow me to sample any of the café’s delectable-sounding soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and other goodies (though the Not Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese w/ Cup of Tomato Basil Soup on its current online menu is hitting me pretty hard with the cravings right now!). Instead, I opted for a cappuccino from its menu of coffee and tea drinks.

This cappuccino was steamy, creamy, foam-laden deliciousness that I enjoyed while sitting at a table in the Three Cats shop/seating area. It’s a brightly colored, aesthetically pleasing space, an ideal place to retreat from the outside world and relax. I could feel myself unwinding with every sip.

116 W. 14 Mile Rd.

Clawson, MI 48017

www.threecatscafe.com

382. Bikes and Coffee – December 16, 2018 – Detroit, MI

december2018bikesandcoffee1 (2)december2018bikesandcoffee2 (2)I’m forever enthused to find a new indie coffee shop. So when the recently opened Bikes and Coffee in the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit popped up on my radar, you know I was there!

As its name implies, Bikes and Coffee isn’t simply a coffee house. It’s also a full-service bike repair shop that offers cycling-related gear and builds custom bikes by request.

The small shop artfully melds its two business elements, with counter and sofa seating up front for cozy latte sipping, a barista-station island in the center, and bike frames, tires, and other gear concentrated along the rear peripheral.

I’ve been to Bikes and Coffee twice: once on a gorgeously sunny Sunday in mid-December when I enjoyed a white tea latte while sunning at a window-facing counter seat and again two weeks later, when I sipped a rich cappuccino.

The first time I was there, the owner’s kitten was there, too, running and jumping and playing. What an adorable little guy! He pawed playfully at my legs and hopped up onto one patron’s lap.

Whether you’re a cycling enthusiast or not, Bikes and Coffee is worth a visit. Bring your bike in for a tune-up and sip on some caffeine-fueled goodness, to boot!

1521 Putnam St.

Detroit, MI 48208

www.bikes-coffee.com

380. Populace Coffee – December 9, 2018 – Detroit, MI

December2018PopulaceCoffee1 (3)After Sunday-morning brunching at Brass Rail Pizza Bar and checking out the holiday markets at Capitol Park, friends and I decided it was time for piping-hot caffeinated goodness at Populace Coffee.

The downtown-Detroit-based coffee shop is located inside of The Siren Hotel, retro-chic accommodations housed within the previously long-abandoned Wurlitzer Building on Broadway Street near Comerica Park.

You know how some places are so inviting, so otherworldly in their coziness that you don’t want to leave? That was how I found Populace Coffee to be. With its velvet-plush furniture, potted palms, fringe-shaded lamps, and ornately carved bookshelf packed with tomes, it exudes antique glamour and a welcoming, come-rest-with-your-feet-up-and-a-cup-of-tea (or Colombian-roast coffee) vibe. I wanted to spend all Sunday afternoon holed up in that coffee house, sipping my rich cappuccino, chatting with my pals, and perusing the magazines scattered about.

We ended up spending about an hour inside Populace; then it was back out into the real world. It was an hour well spent, as I emerged exhilarated by communion, caffeine, and the crush I’d developed for yet another awesome independent coffee shop in the city.

1509 Broadway St.

Detroit, MI 48226

(with an additional location in Bay City, MI)

www.populace.coffee

376. Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters – November 21, 2018 – Rochester, MI

November2018DessertOasis1 (3)Pre-holiday coffee-shop coziness! That was what I was in the mood for when I jaunted over to Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in downtown Rochester on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.

It appeared I wasn’t the only one who had that objective in mind: the coffee shop was bustling when I arrived around 3:30 p.m. The crowd almost overwhelmingly appeared to be composed of college students getting their homework on (studying the night before a holiday weekend? How ambitious!).

While it looked like I wasn’t going to find an open table in the crowded café before my order of a cappuccino and chocolate croissant came up, Fate intervened, and I was able to nab a seat at a small table.

I spent over an hour in the coffee shop, soaking in its congenial vibes whilst working on my computer and receiving a delicious infusion of caffeine and sugar via the cappuccino and croissant.

As made evident by its name, Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is – like me – into the sweet treats. According to its website, the cheesecake it sells slices of is made in-house daily and is offered in such intriguing flavor varieties as Banana Nutella, Baklava, and Tiramisu. Cookies, savory puff pastries, and other baked goods (including vegan desserts) are also sold.

I’ve heard Dessert Oasis periodically offers live music, as well. I would love to come back on a performance night and incorporate that into the experience  – although the inviting ambiance, gracious staff, and delicious food and drink that characterized this visit are in themselves more than enough to warrant a return.

336 S. Main St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(With additional locations in Detroit and Royal Oak)

www.docr.coffee

373. Urban Bean Co. – October 27, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018UrbanBean1 (2)October2018UrbanBean4 (2)October2018UrbanBean2 (2)I love a good coffee house at any time of year, but one’s appeal is of course amplified in the midst of now – a.k.a. the cold-weather half of the year that oft feels as if it’s stretching on interminably here in the Metro-D. Cozy is what carries me through this time of year, and locally-owned coffee shops offer their own signature brands of cozy.

Thusly, on a rainy Saturday at the end of last month, I took myself downtown for some coffee-house-level coziness with a visit to Urban Bean Co., an indie establishment on Grand River Avenue.

The two-level shop is petite, narrow in width and therefore tricky to navigate when it’s busy – and it was kicking when I first arrived there that Saturday afternoon.

Urban Bean Co.’s vibe is retro: wood paneling on the walls; sepia-toned carpet that legit looks like it’s from the ’70s; a general color scheme of oranges and golds and browns, including plastic chairs done in those colors.

Taking my place at the ordering counter, I was greeted by the obviously overtaxed yet still friendly barista. I wanted to try the Pure Evil Latte, which I’d seen rave reviews of with its espresso infused with amaretto, cherry, and milk. But the shop was out of amaretto at the time, so I opted instead for the Green Fairie Latte infused with white chocolate and pistachio syrup. I took my drink up to the second floor, where the bulk of the seating is, and was fortunate to score a seat at a small table.

The narrow parameter of the room made for an intimate environment. Most people seemed to be engrossed in study except for two guys who appeared to be on a first date; it was hard not to feel like a creeper easily taking in their every word in the otherwise hushed room.

But that second-floor perch atop Urban Bean Co. was cozy, and it offered a fantastic view of the streetscape outside, glistening with rain and looking particularly less inviting than the dry, warm environs in which I sat, sipping a deliciously sweet coffee beverage.

What else do I dig about this coffee shop besides its fantastic views, retro-comfy quarters, and tasty signature lattes? Well, I’m pretty obsessed with the fact that it serves The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company’s wares, as well as those of other local purveyors such as Germack, Better Made, and the pièce de résistance, Dutch Girl Donuts (which you may recall I tried earlier this fall, and damn, were those donuts LIFE!).

200 Grand River Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.urbanbeanco.com

365. Germack – October 6, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018Germack1 (2)October2018Germack3 (2)Surrendering to the experience at play brought about my visit to Germack last Saturday.

If you read my last post regarding my visit to Wheelhouse Detroit, you’ll know that Saturday was my birthday and the day I took a guided bike tour to Eastern Market during rain showers. During a hiatus in the tour where our group was allowed to explore Eastern Market on our own, I found myself wandering in a downpour with two hours on my hands and no umbrella.

What to do? I felt crabbiness at the situation start to settle in – then shrugged it off. Nope, I wasn’t doing the bad-mood thing – not on my birthday. “Surrender to the adventure” became my mantra.

The practice was at play then. After fortifying myself with some pierogis from the People’s Pierogi Collective stand at Eastern Market (and discovering that its Corned Beef and Swiss pierogis are LIFE), I surrendered to the adventure by wandering towards Germack’s Russell Street-based café and shop.

As you may already be aware, Germack is a Detroit-based purveyor of nuts, coffee, chocolates, dried fruits, and other dry goods. (When I think Germack, the Tigers-branded bags of roasted and salted shelled peanuts sold at Comerica Park always come to mind. So simple and yet so addictive!) According to its website, it’s also an O.G. of nut-roasting, declaring itself the “oldest roaster of pistachio nuts in the United States” (who knew?).

Aware of the company’s rich local history, I was pleased at the opportunity to visit Germack. Desire for a hot beverage and to scoot my soaked and bedraggled-looking personage away from the crowds was also a motivating factor.

The building’s interior is allocated for the coffee house on the left and the shop on the right, with no dividing wall in between. I didn’t browse the shop, but I know it sells nuts and coffee and chocolates and spices and coffee-brewing equipment and probably a myriad of other things. In that visit, I was focused on ordering a coffee, settling down, and drying off.

I ordered a cappuccino and felt extremely fortunate to nab the last open table in the bustling café. My cappuccino was brought to me, and it was boldly flavored and piping-hot. Initially disappointed that I had no book with me, I remembered the reading app on my phone and opened a writing about – interestingly enough – being relaxed about life to encourage a positive outcome.

The book’s stance could be dismissed as woo-woo, sure. But as I sat there reading it, sipping my cappuccino and enjoying the urban-rustic coziness of the Germack shop, I realized that my mood had become relaxed, present, pleasant. And that – miraculously! – the rain had alchemized into blue skies and sunshine. Surrendering to the adventure felt pretty good right about then.

2517 Russell St.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.germack.com

359. Detroit Vintage – September 9, 2018 – Detroit, MI

September2018DetroitVintage1 (4)September2018DetroitVintage3 (2)September2018DetroitVintage2 (2)Detroit Vintage is MAGICAL!

This most enchanting of coffee shops is in an unlikely location, sandwiched as it is between a weed dispensary and a liquor store on Eight Mile Road in Detroit.

But does pure, magical goodness depend on prime real estate from which to derive its powers? Heck no! If anything, the disparity between Detroit Vintage and the surrounding area enhances the ethereal otherworldliness beyond the coffee shop’s threshold.

This place is STUNNING, a cozy-beyond-cozy space decorated with knick-knacks and bunting and stacks of books and twinkle lights and chandeliers and cushy leather chairs and COLOR – so much bold, bright color. Another delight of a gem in the D!

As is often the case with otherworldly realms, entering Detroit Vintage can be complicated – at least for a first-time visitor unaware of the admittance process.

While I’d read online prior to visiting the coffee shop that patrons should access it via its back entrance, when I attempted to do so, I encountered a locked metal gate obscured by colorful decorations beyond the exterior door.

Is this right? I stepped back to re-assess the building.

In the meantime, two more would-be first-time visitors to Detroit Vintage appeared. Together we puzzled over the latched gate-door – until a woman inside heard and let us in.

It turned out that this door was the proper one through which to enter; to gain admittance, we were supposed to ring a bell attached to the gate-door, which we had missed.

Once inside, I could see why Detroit Vintage is guarded so carefully. I was immediately taken with the beautiful space, as I was with the two welcoming women who ran it.

I ordered a cappuccino at the counter to the rear of the shop and was told that it would be delivered to me. I took a seat at a small wooden table decorated with a stack of books and a teapot stuffed with flowers and soaked up the enchanting ambiance, complete with classical music playing softly in the background.

My cappuccino was brought to me a few minutes later. It was piping-hot, perfect on that blustery Sunday afternoon, with a deliciously rich flavor.

I spent about an hour nestled inside Detroit Vintage on that visit, in sweet sojourn from the outside world. The charming environs captured my imagination, and I knew I would be back for a revisit. Magical spaces such as this linger long in my memory!

10335 W. 8 Mile Rd.

Detroit, MI 48221

(Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; cash only)

www.bucky313.wixsite.com/detroit-vintage-

 

356. Always Brewing Detroit – August 31, 2018 – Detroit, MI

August2018AlwaysBrewing1 (2)August2018AlwaysBrewing3 (2)Independent coffee shops are my JAM, so you know I was down to visit Always Brewing Detroit last weekend!

A Detroit jaunt was the obvious choice for me last Friday after an early work dismissal in honor of Labor Day weekend. With Grandmont Rosedale fresh in my memory after a recent visit to Detroit Vegan Soul, I opted for a return to the Northwest Detroit-area neighborhood and the chance to become acquainted with another local coffee shop.

Upon stepping into Always Brewing Detroit, I immediately liked it. The shop had a cozy, welcoming vibe with its glinting copper ceiling tiles, vintage-looking furniture, strands of exposed-bulb lighting, bookshelf available for browsing, and floor-length rose-colored curtains pulled aside to let in the sun. A chalkboard above the service counter advertised now-past events open to the community: an open mic, a game night.

I had a hankering for an iced coffee and ordered a medium-sized one from the laid-back, friendly barista. It was awesome, rich in flavor and not at all tasting diluted by the ice. I confirmed with the barista that it was a cold brew; he said that’s the only way they’ll do iced coffees there. Obviously, they take the craft of coffee brewing seriously, which I appreciate!

Hanging out at Always Brewing was a chill experience, a wind-down from my workday and an excellent start to the holiday weekend. This is definitely another indie coffee shop that I’ll be adding to my rotation!

19180 Grand River Ave.

Detroit, MI 48223

www.alwaysbrewingdetroit.com

346. New Order Coffee – July 21, 2018 – Detroit, MI

July2018NewOrderCoffee3 (2)July2018NewOrderCoffee1 (2)July2018NewOrderCoffee2 (3)As I’ve exclaimed in many a post, I ADORE coffee shops – especially locally-owned ones, naturally. So I was thrilled to finally visit New Order Coffee on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary (hence the birthday balloons in the above photos).

What a lovely space this is! I didn’t expect to spend over two hours at New Order Coffee that Saturday afternoon, but I found my experience in the bright, airy shop so pleasant that I didn’t want to leave after one drink – so I consumed another.

That first drink? It was a Crunch Berry Cereal Milk Latte, as pictured above in all its whipped-cream-and-sprinkles-bedecked glory. The barista who served me recommended both it and the regular Cereal Milk Latte when I remarked that it was my first time at New Order; I chose the Crunch Berry one because he told me it was his favorite. He said both lattes are made with milk imbued with sugary cereal – I believe frosted cornflakes are used for each of them, and then the Crunch Berry latte has the addition of the Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries Cereal in its infusion.

Does that not sound like a formula for deliciousness? Indeed, this Crunch Berry Cereal Milk Latte was creamy deliciousness, sweet without being overly so. I sucked it down and transitioned to sipping my second beverage, an Earl Grey tea latte topped with frothy milk – a fine representation of the cozy classic.

Those delectable drinks weren’t the only reason I had a hard time leaving New Order. All of the baristas I encountered were polite, friendly, and professional, fostering an awesome ordering experience, and in general, the place just had good vibes. It felt relaxing, restful – an ideal place to momentarily slip away from the oft-chaotic everyday.

I enjoyed my spot perched at the window-facing counter looking out along Woodward Avenue, watching passersby. Additional seating options exist toward the back of the shop, as well as in a separate section across from the barista’s station. I didn’t realize until I left and was walking by it from the outside that the latter area has a patio-esque element, with windows that open to the outdoors.

Every seating area was pretty well populated during the Saturday afternoon I was there. I got the impression that New Order is a hub for academic study; “Are you a student?” was a commonly asked question by the baristas, making me wonder if college attendees qualified for a discount (worth asking about if you’re in school!).

Whether you’re a student or simply a coffee-shop devotee like me, I would highly recommend stepping into this shop for a cereal-milk-fueled sojourn from the outside world the next time you need one.

3100 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.newordercoffee.com