Coffee Houses

278. A Bean to Go – September 23, 2017 – Lake Orion, MI

Bean1Bean3I had the BEST ICED COFFEE OF MY LIFE at A Bean to Go in downtown Lake Orion a few weeks ago. It was prepared with cold-brewed coffee, and it was wonderfully rich in flavor – not at all like the watery iced coffee you’re presented with at some java joints. And it was strong – that coffee had me revving for hours afterward! Granted, that’s not a hard thing to achieve in someone with a low caffeine threshold like me, but still. What I’m trying to say is, this stuff is the good stuff!

I had to lead with that information because it was the first thing that popped into my head when I thought of A Bean to Go as I sat down to write – that COFFEE! While the delightful cold-brew sealed the deal, I’d gathered that I’d like the Lake Orion shop from the moment I stepped into its interior with its rustic-chic, inviting vibe and plenty of work spaces. This is the perfect place to camp out and get some writing, studying, or other work done whilst infusing one’s veins with a steady stream of delectably-flavored caffeine.

No wonder A Bean to Go has such excellent coffee; it roasts its own beans at its facility in Goodrich, MI, where it also has another coffee shop location, as I found out on its website. It sells bags of its various bean blends in the Lake Orion shop and on its website.

Not only did I get to experience another Grade-A coffee shop in the Metro-Detroit area with this visit (I collect them like baseball cards!), I also was able to represent Lake Orion on 100 Places in the D. Yes, Lake Orion is a new-to-the-blog city! We’ve got back-to-back repping-new-cities posts with this one and yesterday’s on Colasanti’s!

While I’m on the topic of Lake Orion, can I comment on how cute its downtown is? It was my first time down there, and I was digging its picturesque small-town vibes. I will definitely be going back there at some time in the foreseeable future – at the very least to revisit to A Bean to Go.

16 West Flint St.

Lake Orion, MI 48362

www.abeantogo.com

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271. Narrow Way Café and Shop – September 4, 2017 – Detroit, MI

20170904_11142320170904_111959I’m so excited to write about today’s featured place because I absolutely LOVED it. Narrow Way Café and Shop is an excellent addition to the Detroit coffee scene!

Seriously, this coffee shop in the Avenue of Fashion neighborhood of Detroit (Seven Mile and Livernois area) is PHENOMENAL. It can be challenging to find a coffee shop that has it all: great service AND excellent coffee AND delicious snacks AND great ambience AND ample seating options. Narrow Way Café and Shop checks all the boxes – especially the one important box I didn’t yet mention, the I-Want-to-Stay-Here-all-Day-and-Escape-from-the-World-Because-this-World-is-Lovely box.

Good vibes: those are the words that come to mind when I recall Narrow Way’s interior. It is light-filled and pleasant and cozy and there-can-be-no-anxiety-here tranquil. Instrumental jazz music is playing in the background. The walls are painted blue-green and white, and the expanse behind the dark wood counter is white-tiled. The tables are white; the chairs are white with a black criss-cross design; the lighting is hanging gold globe fixtures. There’s a map of the world on one wall and a purple fluorescent Narrow Way logo glowing on the wall behind the counter. I loved it.

The baristas were lovely to me, very polite and friendly and calling me “Miss Jackie,” which I found completely charming. This is not some corporate mega-chain where they scrawl your name on a cup and then holler it out incorrectly when your order is done. “Miss Jackie, would you like your pastry warmed up?” Heck yes, I would! And you’re going to deliver it to me in my seat? Best customer service EVER.

That pastry by the way: it was a spinach, feta, and brioche one, and it was absolutely phenomenal. The savory spinach, salty feta, and buttery brioche . . . OH YEAH. Narrow Way’s baked goods are from Avalon, so of course it was gonna be amazing. I mean, come on.

Plus, the mocha-almond frozen coffee I got was addictively delicious. I was bouncing-off-the-walls euphoric after consuming that frozen, flavorful, caffeine-saturated goodness. Narrow Way serves Zingerman’s coffee, so it’s official: they’ve got good taste over there – and they’re repping other local establishments, to boot (which you know I heart).

My one regret about visiting Narrow Way was that I did not stay long. I’d driven there with the intention of hanging out for a while with my journal, but then I was paranoid about where I’d parked (in the lot of the nearby grocery store, Mike’s Fresh Market), because there were warning signs about non-patrons being towed. Would they really have noticed and towed my car? Probably not, but I was with a friend once in Denver where they did notice and tow her car when we left it in a market parking lot, so I’m always leery of the possibility. Anyway, I should have parked on the neighborhood street behind Narrow Way instead – or Lord forbid, in one of the parallel parking spots in front of the shop (my phobia – yes, phobia – of parking in a parallel parking spot prevented me). Next time, I’ll ensure I find a legit parking spot so I can bask in Narrow Way’s good vibes longer.

19331 Livernois Ave.

Detroit, MI 48221

www.thenarrowwaycafe.com

270. Journey’s End Coffee Shop – September 2, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170902_131142 (2)20170902_131436 (2)After breakfast at the Original Pancake House in Grosse Pointe Woods (which I’m always happy to visit because they have some of the best bacon EVER), I decided to stop into Journey’s End Coffee Shop in Saint Clair Shores to enjoy a cappuccino and catch up on some journaling. The coffee shop is small and only contains a few tables, but its staff is friendly; its golden-walled interior, welcoming. Smoothies, bagels, pastries, and a soup-of-the-day are offered in addition to a variety of coffee and tea drinks.

Worth noting: Journey’s End opens early – at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. But it closes in the afternoons (at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and 3 p.m. the rest of the week).

25109 Jefferson Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48081

www.journeysendcoffee.com

246. Kahve Coffee – May 12, 2017 – Clawson, MI

20170512_185240 (3)I love a good independent coffee shop. There is something about being in public and yet in obscurity that I find incredibly appealing – the introvert in me loves that. A quality coffee shop offers respite from the world in the midst of a busy day, a hideaway to hole up and take care of business, a comfortable space to relax and get a caffeine fix between appointments. I love knowing there’s a solid coffee shop nearby to duck into when I need it.

After my recent visit to Kahve Coffee in downtown Clawson, I am adding it to my list of beloved independent coffee shops. I immediately dug its warm interior with colorful artwork posted on the walls, the friendly service, and my Earl Grey latte. The piece of baklava I chose from a selection of locally made baked goods was rich and flaky without being overly sweet – YUM. Baklava is one of those desserts I always forget about until I eat a piece and then am like HOW AM I EXISTING WITHOUT THIS IN MY LIFE EVERY DAY?

Another thing that makes Kahve stand out besides the fact that it serves stellar baklava is that included among its various delicious-sounding hot-beverage offerings is Turkish coffee – which I’ve never tried and would like to . . . hmmm. Perhaps I will get that during my next visit and be bouncing off the walls after drinking that strong, unfiltered brew (I’m a caffeine lightweight).

I expect to be back to Kahve and downtown Clawson soon because I’ve realized that the only other time I’ve highlighted a place in that city for this blog was all the way back when it started in 2014, with my visit to Vietnamese restaurant Da Nang (#26). And downtown Clawson is worth more than a once-every-three-years visit! There are several cool-looking restaurants down there that I can’t wait to check out.

22 S. Main St.

Clawson, MI 48017

228. Caffé Far Bella – February 4, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170204_134238-220170204_134843-2Hello again – and by the way, Happy February! I have a fondness in my heart for February, which is kind of hilarious to me considering that I used to hate it.

I hated February because it always was that part of the winter for me that felt like an unendurable slog, like “REALLY? MORE snow, MORE ice, MORE gloom?” Then I got sick of hating it and decided to find reasons to love it – which I actually got pretty good at.

February for me now is all about unending coziness (so.many.blankets), notable gains in daylight (it’s actually light out until 6 p.m. now – YES!!!), and making excuses for self-indulgences like fresh raspberries and good books (Valentine’s Day IS next week = good excuse to spoil ourselves). And it’s a time of hot beverages – lots and lots of warming tea and coffee.

Speaking of hot beverages, I stumbled across Caffè Far Bella this weekend while driving around on the East Side and craving a cappuccino. My GPS pulled it up as an option in Saint Clair Shores, and once I realized exactly where it’s located, I was like, “Oh, yeah! This is the coffee shop next to Cedar Garden I’ve always wondered about!”

Now I know: Caffè Far Bella is a delight. Stepping inside, I discovered a cozy, inviting space decorated in hearts and snowflakes. The man who greeted me behind the counter, who I believe owns the shop with his wife, emanated cheerfulness in that contagious way that makes you smile, too. After some harried driving about town, I was more than ready to sink down at a table in this friendly space with a steaming beverage, an Italian fig cookie, and the newspaper.

It was so nice to take time out to read the comics (when in the heck was the last time I did that?) and enjoy my cookie and decaf cappuccino, which were excellent. It was the first time I’d had the decaf variety of my favorite coffee drink, and I have to say, I did not taste the difference. In fact, it was one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had, so yay to rich flavor + no jitters!

In addition to selling a variety of coffee drinks and teas, Caffè Far Bella offers an extensive selection of baked goods, breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, and salads, making it a viable breakfast or lunch option. Also worth noting: it closes early most days – at 4 on Saturdays and at 5 every other day of the week except Thursdays, when it’s open until 7.

23415 Greater Mack Ave.

St. Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.cafefarbella.com

224. Espresso Elevado – December 27, 2016 – Plymouth, MI

espressoelevado1espressoelevado2Coffee shops are some of my favorite places to hang out – especially independent ones. The well-known corporate chain shops just don’t exude the same character that the small, locally-owned ones do (while I do admittedly have a fondness for Tim Hortons –  their peppermint tea is stellar! – the ambiance is, well . . . that of an interior of a Tim Hortons). My friend who recently met me in downtown Plymouth loves coffee shops, as well, so we thought enjoying a hot beverage at Espresso Elevado before hitting the road would be a fitting way to cap off our visit.

The interior of this coffee shop is tiny; there are only a few tables to sit at, plus a pair of plush armchairs. But it’s cute and cozy and makes a mean cappuccino.

Espresso Elevado offers a variety of specialty coffee drinks and yummy-looking baked goods (including gluten-free ones). In studying its website, the emphasis on coffee brewing as a craft is apparent, as is the value given to fostering a workplace where all are recognized for their respective roles and talents (there are profiles on everyone from the founder to the creative director to the baristas). I like that about it. The place may be small, but it’s got big heart!

606 S. Main St.

Plymouth, MI 48170

www.espressoelevado.com

214. Honcho – December 17, 2016 – Clarkston, MI

20161217_18410320161217_20344020161217_194606-3Hello, all! I hope you are enjoying the holiday season! I am breathing a sigh of relief now that Christmas is over and enjoying the last dregs of 2016 before the new year is here. I hope you are finding free time in your schedule to relax, set New Year’s intentions, and get out there and do some exploring.

I am a sucker for new years and new beginnings. It’s become a joke among me and two of my best friends how, in approaching the start of every new year, I always exclaim, “It’s going to be the BEST year EVER!” It’s the same with every summer; it’s not the start of the warm-weather season if I haven’t proclaimed that it will surely be the BEST summer EVER. What can I say, I’m an eternal optimist!

Every year is great in its own way – but it also inevitably presents its own set of challenges. Knowing this, there is still something about a fresh start that lights me up – and makes me excited to face January despite it being plunked right in the middle of a seemingly never-ending Metro-Detroit winter.

In this coldest and gloomiest time of year, I find it most critical to my well-being to make time for trying new places. So when weather allows, I am out and about! The Saturday night before last, I donned an ugly holiday sweater and made the trek out to Clarkston for dinner and drinks with a good friend.

The first stop: Honcho. It’s the latest establishment to join those under the Union Joints umbrella, the family of locally-owned restaurants that includes the Clarkston Union, Union Woodshop, and Vinsetta Garage.

The sign above the door of the restaurant bills it as “Latin Street Food and Coffee,” and there is indeed an area of the interior partitioned off for the purpose of serving coffee and donuts. You can also order the house-made donuts for dessert if you are eating in the dining area and man! are they good. They are freshly fried, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. You can order a batch of donuts – I believe they come in an order of 10 – with sides of chocolate and caramel dipping sauces to share. They are definitely worth the extra calories!

Then there’s the Latin Street food part of Honcho. Honcho’s interpretation of Latin food is unlike any I’d previously experienced. The menu featured during my visit had heavy Asian and Indian influences.

Take the Hot Chicken Burrito that I ordered, pictured above. The refried black beans had a distinctly Asian flavor to them; if I’m remembering correctly, I believe they were flavored with miso. Fish sauce was another component of the dish, and the burrito also contained: pickles. Yes, pickles!

The meal was very good, and I love trying unique, inventive fare, but I’ll admit, I found myself wishing there were some more traditional Latin dishes included on the menu, too. Because when I think of Latin food, I think of Mexican food, and I LOVE excellent Mexican food. If you are seeking authentic Mexican food, you are better off going down a ways to Pontiac and one of my latest obsessions, El Patrón.

But just because Honcho’s take on burritos and street tacos isn’t the one many of us know and love doesn’t mean its fare should be discounted. It’s pretty darn good food. I was reminded of that when I ate the leftover half of my enormous chicken burrito the next day. I was like, “Damn, I already forgot how good this was!” If you can suspend your expectations about what Latin food should be and simply appreciate the dishes with no preconceptions clouding your experience, you will likely enjoy dining at Honcho.

Other stuff I loved about the place: it’s done up in a hipster-Western theme, with black-and-white wallpaper studded with cactuses and agave plants in the area near the bar, which made me happy simply because it presented a polar opposite of the heavily snow-strewn landscape outside the window. Also, the Bad Hombre drink is wholly worth the $12 investment if you are into a cocktail that is a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and not short on tequila.

3 E. Church St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

www.eathoncho.com

 

200. The Office Coffee Shop – October 13, 2016 – Royal Oak, MI

20161013_14512120161013_150412It’s a big one today, people! The 200th new place visited for 100 Places in the D!!!!!

During my first year of this blog, which ran from early February 2014 to early February 2015, I visited 102 new-to-me, locally-owned establishments. I marvel at this now, especially considering that I worked two jobs for half of that year, averaging 50-60 hours a week between the two of them and working seven days a week unless I took a vacation day. How the hell did I do it???

I’m proud that I accomplished my goal of visiting 100 new places in one year. It was the premise for this blog, of course! Post-achievement, I told myself that while I definitely wanted to keep moving forward with the blog, I did not need to hit 100 new places every blogging year. I envisioned a pace of about 60-75 new visits a year.

In Year Two, I hit a total of 61. My goal for Year Three is 65; I’m currently at 38 (this includes #201, which I’ll be writing about later in the week). That means I have 27 visits to go in less than four months, so I’d better get hustling! I don’t want to count too much on the potentially snowy months of December and January, so I’m looking to be especially intentional with my visits this November. I’m hoping to get further afield and hit more cities that I’ve never before covered on the blog, such as Wyandotte, Novi, and other places that are further afield for me as a Macomb County resident.

This blog and this habit I’ve formed of seeking out new-to-me places instead of visiting the same-ol’, same-ol’ corporate-chain ones all of the time have been so fulfilling to me. My world has expanded, and I’m not EVER going back to the old, small one where I repetitively made the rounds of B’Dubs and T.G.I. Friday’s and Boston’s. No thank you! OK, occasionally I still find myself at one of those places; they have their place in my world, and I’m not gonna be a total snob and refuse loved ones’ invitations to corporate chain restaurants or boycott my local Biggby when there are no independent coffee shops in my neighborhood (plus I still adore B’Dubs’ Spicy Garlic Sauce and feel a need to eat there at least once a year). The point is, I know now that there is so, so much more out there, more unique restaurants in the Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties than I will ever have time to get to – and new ones opening every month. Yay, Metro Detroit!!!! Yay to supporting local businesses!!!!

And yay to my 200th visit! It was nothing flashy, but it was lovely. I escaped work early on a sunshiny day last week and went to a place I’ve been wanting to check out for months and months and months, The Office Coffee Shop. It’s located in downtown Royal Oak, off of 4th Street on Lafayette Street (which is just beyond Washington Street if you’re coming from the direction of Main Street). I had an excellent cappuccino there with extra-extra foam, thanks to the great barista who waited on me. I sipped my cappuccino, wrote in my journal, and basked in the coffee-shop ambiance. I love coffee shops, and it had been a while since I’d visited one on my own and just sat there and wrote.

The Office has a very nice, homey vibe. There is plenty of natural light let in by the large-paned windows and plenty of seating options. I’m also intrigued by the driving concepts of this place. The owners of The Office, a husband-and-wife team, opened it with the dreams of 1) establishing a place that could be a co-working space for entrepreneurs and other professionals, offering them services that traditional coffee shops don’t, such as printer and fax machine access, conference room rentals, and mail shipping and receiving; and 2) operating a business that gives back. The Office accomplishes both, offering the aforementioned business-related services (plus several others) and giving 5% of the proceeds from each purchase to the customer’s charity of choice (the customer gets to choose from one of three featured; I chose for my donation to go to the Boys and Girls Club).

OK, the more I think about it, the more I am obsessed with this place! How excellent is this idea of marketing a coffee shop as a co-working space and offering these additional amenities? I need to get on with my dream of becoming an online entrepreneur so I can work there all of the time! And the charitable aspect is as smart as it is inspiring. Who doesn’t like to know that they are doing good while they are sitting and sipping a latte?

402 S Lafayette Ave.
Royal Oak, MI 48067

www.theofficecoffeeshop.com

 

 

192. Ashe Supply Co. – September 29, 2016 – Detroit, MI

 

Hello, all! Happy Sunday! I hope you are keeping dry this weekend! Here in the D, it’s been raining buckets the last few days. I also hope none of you Metro-Detroiters were affected by all of the flooding shenanigans that occurred Thursday. Obvi, we need better storm drains in our freeway system here!

Funny thing about Thursday: my team at work had planned that day to go to an afternoon Tigers game. Yes, the soggiest possible home game of the season to attend – with that particular date having been my suggestion (Whoops!). What it translated to was a long lunch at beloved Detroit Beer Company (Black and White Bean Dip, holla!) plus strolling the Comerica Park concourses and streets of Detroit in the rain.

One of my coworkers is originally from up north and had only visited downtown a few times before, so she wanted to wander and explore. Bundled in my fairly rain-resistant sweatshirt and knit hat, I did not object. But slogging around in the rain is only charming for so long. When our little group decided to stop in to the little coffee shop we’d stumbled upon earlier on Broadway to take a respite from the dampness, I was thrilled. Warmth, and dryness, and a new place for 100 Places!

Ashe Supply Co. is exactly the coffee shop I wish existed in my neighborhood. If it did, I’d be working there all of the time. It’s clean and cozy and hipster-ish. There are various seating areas, including a small bar rail along the barista counter. And the music is at the perfect decibel level to ensure concentration.

In addition to its several varieties of coffee, Ashe sells wares from other area vendors, including baked goods from Sister Pie, who I could totally see as being the creators of the pumpkin whoopie pie with cream cheese icing that one of my coworkers ordered. I got a taste of that icing, and it was extraordinary! The company also peddles artwork from local creatives, Detroit-themed clothing, and coffee- and tea-related accessories.

And what did I order during my visit to Ashe? I decided on a mint tea, which was the perfect antidote to an hour of rain walking / a belly full of bean and cheese dip and too many scavenged French fries. While the game was inevitably called off, hey, at least I got to bond with coworkers and avoid my office cubicle for a half day. In life, it’s all about the tiny victories, right?

1555 Broadway St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.ashesupplyco.com

179. Eos Café – July 10, 2016 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20160710_162540 (1)My friend had become somewhat of a VIP at this new coffee shop in her neighborhood, Eos Café. She’d been coming in frequently and joked that the table by the window that she always sat at should be designated for her, so they put a sticker with her name on it on the side of it. I think it was on there for about a week, but Sunday when I visited the place and told the owner I met that I was her friend, we discovered that the sticker had been ripped off. VIP status denied!

No, not really. My friend is too charming to have anyone deny her the privilege of being denoted a favored regular. And this owner of Eos is too friendly for me to see him ever treating any customer as more than top-tier. On my visit, he took some time to chat with me and gave me a free iced tea. He was very welcoming, as was the overall vibe of the coffee house. It’s a beautiful space, very soothing to be in, and I found myself wishing it was on my side of town so I could regularly visit and get some writing done. Maybe I’ll need to find an excuse to come to Saint Clair Shores more often.

Eos is not just a beautifully ambient shop peddling the usual coffee and tea drinks; it also offers smoothies, breakfast items, salads, and a variety of sandwiches and paninis. (Ok, it’s not even 9:30 in the morning as I’m writing this, and I’m starving. I need a chicken pesto panini!)

30625 Jefferson Ave.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082

www.eoscoffeehouse.com