Coffee test #25 Detroit Vintage

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Photos by Alesyn McCall & Shawntai Brown
Location: 8 Mile and Birwood (east of Wyoming)
Near: Hot Wheels, Enterprise, Burger King, Kroger, New Way Motors
Parking: Free parking lot in the back
I ordered: French Press and a blueberry muffin. Come with cash, as they do not take cards! It will be worth the ATM trip.
Coffee: Flavorful and smooth. Served at the perfect temperature.
Service: Order at the counter. She carried a service tray to my seating, placed my French press to my ottoman, pressed it in front of me, and poured my first cup. All a lovely set up. The muffin was served warm without me even requesting it.
Wifi: Great so far. You will need to ask for the password. It’s very city centric.
Atmosphere: If you love used book stores, vintage shops and thrift boutiques, you will instantly fall in love. Everything about this place transports you into a dreamland published in sepia. Colorful kites, light mesh fabrics, old wooden sleds, lanterns, stars and string lights, and time-spent chandeliers play foreground to the warn wooden open ceiling. Below the hanging museum of loving memoria are tables, old dressers, a polished dinning room tables, little cafe two-tops and well-made TV tables from the time of hand crafting and your great aunts sitting room. Every top is stacked with used books in good to great conditions, balancing knicknacks, mugs, kettles and paperweights. Eclectic lamps, candle sticks and tea lights sprinkle the stacks like forest guides. Mannequins populate the place, dressed in vintage pieces, and tea time attire, necks draped in sparkling jewelry. Each piece of clothing and jewel for sale. A mix-match of chairs, sofas and benches invite patrons to the table tops absent of books, decorated with (for now at least) nutcrackers, snowmen, and seasonal keepsakes. I typically love to sit at the tall seating that lines the windows of a place, this one viewing the steady rush of cars, but today opted for one of the deep chocolate armchairs on the miniature stage. It was a cozy spot nestled by a music stand, of course holding reading options, an ottoman with my own candle and burgundy floral lamp, and three pleasantly imperfect snowmen cast in ceramic. Binoculars sat behind me, in case I needed to spy across the room or get a closer look at the glass chess pieces awaiting players. If I had continued practicing, I could have played the guitar in stand. But the true music was the storied epoxy floor, with evidence of various paint jobs chipped, shoe-worn, and dressed with oriental rugs and runners making beauty out of the chaos of the beige, rouge and concrete cracks. Jazz via one of NPRs stations plays under the sound of the television, the audio complete with the hum of guests talking to one another. Outlets can randomly be found along the walls, although many of them are filled with plugs lighting the cavernous shop. While I love ease of a keyboard, this place deserves a hand-bound journal and fountain pen. If you need to plug in, it’s completely possible, but bring a long cord. The stage has a power strip between the two chairs. Another two are available near the front entrance, but there is no table pulled up to them. The walls are covered in iron frames, warmly-worded decals, and random paintings and photographs. Definitely a charming escape from the typical city experience.


People: I was one of the first to arrive, but within the hour, the place was full of folk looking for hot tea, coffee, fruit bowls, and a place to meet with friends. Most of the patrons were black women and

img_20191201_113951453couples, all with eyes scanning the ceiling and possibilities for discovery. The big dinning table filled with singles and couples making a meetup of two seemingly separate friend groups. As they entered, they greeted one another with hugs, hellos, and “are you?s “.  Two patrons in their late 20s entered, seemingly on one of their first dates. They guy spotted the glass chess pieces in my view. He turned to the woman at his side with an eager smile. “You play?” She shrugged her shoulders. He moved chairs, making a path for her and pulled out the tall chairs at either side of the board. A guy watching nearby became excited: “You can play checkers? I never learned to play real good.” A woman with her hair wrapped in a floral scarf approached the table, had the man sit down. She began talking to him, moving the chess pieces for a game of checkers with the stranger. Her whispers were low, but I imagine she was walking him through the game. Meanwhile, a soror with a ZΦB scarf twirled around her neck, sat with a friend, each with their notebooks and planners open and pens ready. Others came in pairs, searching for the perfect table, a spot near the register to watch the bustle of coffee and tea making, a great stack of books to flip through, or a spot by the tv to watch a woman teach them how to make pasta al dente. Meanwhile, the barista and owner traveled through with the serving tray, setting people up for service.

Return Likely: How could I not come back? This place is so lovely, black owned for 7 years this August, and clearly a gem that people have come to love. They are only open Saturday and Sundays, but this is the perfect way to start or end a week.

Coffee Test # 24 Roasting Plant

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Coffee test num. 24 Roasting Plant

Location: Woodward and Cadillac Square
Near: Campus Martius, Shake Shack, The Whiskey Parlor, Checker Bar, Central Bar & Kitchen, Townhouse, Parc
Parking: Metered street parking and outrageously expensive lots.
I ordered: Cappuccino & almond croissant
Coffee: Decent. Could have been more flavorful, but it was definitely smooth. They lose points for serving it to me in two cardboard cups. I prefer ceramic.
Image may contain: indoorService: Order at the counter. They called me back to the counter when it was ready by my order, not by name. They did offer to warm the croissant.
Wifi: So far it’s fine, but getting on was a little difficult. A plus is no password is required. I didn’t have to replay the codeword and which letters to capitalize on the way back to my table. I simply found their open network. At first, the agreement page wouldn’t load, so I had to keep disconnecting a reconnecting. Then, I tried to use the #CamusMartiusWiFi, which did not work. Finally, I switched by to Roasting Plant WiFi, which then worked like a fresh tune up.
Atmosphere: Housed inside the fancy First National Building of various offices, apartments and condos, Roasting Plant is a clean, business- an
industry-driven space. The dry cobalt seats with paled gold hardware sit at faux wood tables around the somewhat narrow cafe. Windows provide lots of lights which shines through the mostly glass rectangular prism, walled in only at the counter. Steel beams are black-ish-brown leading up to the concrete exposed ceiling and world map of their coffee origins lining the sliver of wall between the glass and ceiling. In the middle, at the stainless steel island clear bulk dispensers offer coffee of various countries and flavors for purchase. At the Woodward entrance, two four tops offer plug-ins nearby. Opposite the four-tops is a wall bench and three two-tops, each with an additional chair. Under the bench are more plugs for those needing to juice. At the stainless steel island, three more chairs are offered at a rounded end. Two high bars line the Cadillac Square side, but no stools are in the space. This saddened me because I love sitting at high counters lining windows. Perhaps it’s a short person trait, but I enjoy tall chairs where my feet can dangle as I work or chat. Outside of the shop, there is lobby seating for the First National Building, offering tall tables and chairs and sofas. The musical selection was very satisfying: Lion Babe, Jill Scott, Janet Jackson, Ashanti, etc. Also for sale are catering boxes, coffee mugs and jugs, and branded clothing.
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People: This is housed in the business, entertainment and festival area, so expect anyone to come in. From wanderers awaiting the start to whatever game, to those shuffling in from the cold spring after strolling Campus Martius, to pre-diners awaiting a seat at one of the many restaurants nearby, to workers, the homeless/houseless, and the New Detroiters.
Return Likely: The parking makes this a very inconvenient stop. If I am already parked and in the area, I would check in, but I still have not found a cafe in the downtown area to outdo Dessert Oasis just around the corner.


Coffee Test #23 Cannelle Detroit


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Coffee test num. 23 Cannelle Detroit

Location: Griswold & Grand River

Near: Detroit Institute of Music Education, Eatori, Lear Innovation Center, Dessert Oasis, Cafe D’Mongos Speakeasy, Capitol Park

Parking: Metered street parking and outrageously expensive lots.

I ordered: Cappuccino & vanilla eclair with white chocolate shavings

Coffee: Really good, even after sitting a moment as I took care of my bladder.


Service: Order at the counter. They delivered the coffee to my table!

Wifi: Reliable and fast. You do need the password, but it’s posted at the counter so you don’t have to beg the barista for the code.

Atmosphere: This is a second location;

Image may contain: foodthe first being Cannelle Patisserie in Birmingham. That tells you a lot already. This is a posh, upscale-ish spot complete with hanging mini chandeliers, tinted glass drop lighting revealing antique-style bulbs shining onto white and gray marble countertops. Faux wood lines the floor, tables and chairs and faux brick posters the wall behind the desserts display (hence the “ish-ness” of the space). The space has two counters: One for ordering coffee and the selections of cake, chocolate and macaroons; the other is where the coffee creations and menu is located. Two marble long bars line the Griswold-facing windows, each seating 4-5 patrons. The counter is only about a foot wide, so don’t expect to spread out. The most southern bar is where one outlet is located. The only other one I could find is on the Grand River wall at the middle two-top. If your devices are not pre-juiced, do not expect to plug in here; although, I lucked out with charging my laptop. About seven 2-to-3-tops take up the middle of the space, and two facing leather loveseats welcome you at the coffee bar. Every table is topped with fresh roses and carnations in a ball jar. The space was very clean on this Friday eve. The bathrooms are located in the basement of the Bedrock-owned building (barf), accessible only by badge which hangs at the door leading to the rest of the building. They are unisex, but only one was clean and useable. If you run cold, like me, bring a cover-up, as the space was set to a Eurocentric temp. I wasn’t in the mood for the music selection (slow, orchestral European ballads), so I kept my headphones in.Image may contain: food

People: Expect the new downtown crowd of after-workers and Detroit tourists looking for a warm cup and french treat. While I was there, the place had a diversity of small meet-ups: a tiny family, couple and friends, a brief business meeting.

Return Likely: The treats are light, fresh and lovely. I didn’t die of ecstasy with every bite, but I was pleasantly satisfied. I’d return for the eclair and chocolates I plan to gift to the lovely folk in my life. Dessert Oasis down the street is more my speed, so for coffee, I’d likely walk the 500 feet to the other option.

Coffee Test num. 22: Awake Cafe

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Coffee test num. 22 Awake Cafe

Location: Third and Calumet
Near: Marios, The Bottom Line, Cinema Detroit, Chapel, Blossoms
Parking: Free street parking on Third, Calumet and Willis.
I ordered: Cappuccino
Coffee: Decent. Not the best, but it was good. I ordered a large, which throws off the essence of the cap (should be a small, simple drink), so it’s worth another try.
Service: Order and pick up at the counter. The barista was very friendly. I don’t know if he forgot to ask if I had a specialty milk in mind, or if they just don’t charge extra since my card had already been run. Anyway, I stuck with whole milk as not to sabotage the foam.
Wifi: Reliable and fast. Open network. No agreement to click. No crazy website. Just select and you are connected.
Atmosphere: It’s a very clean, lodge-like space. The tall window bar is a large slab of wood, still with the smoothed out ridges and curves of the tree. The front window is lined with lined with succulents in clay-colored painted glass jars and tea cups. The front is framed in paneled wood. All of the chairs in the place are wooden. The smaller tables throughout, and they are plentiful (a handful of 4-tops, a 6-top and a smaller hand of 2-tops), are metal, cafeteria grade. Faux green plants are on every other table. The coffee bar is large and features mugs for purchase, chips, and fr

esh fruit. The multi-colored slabs of wood against the tan epoxy added a little warmth to the cool (I guess it’s not spring?) day. Coffee sacks add to the natural feel and the yellowy string lights offer a soft glow. In the back of the shop, the space begs for the return of winter. Two leather sofas cuddle a faux brick fireplace. The metal is broken by this living room vibe. A power strip will charge you up on the north wall. There’s another power strip under the tall bar at the window. The bathroom smelled amazing.

People: The space was mostly
empty, save a few tables. Being that it was Good Friday, most patrons took things to go. About 30 minutes into my visit I realized the place has closed 20 minutes ago (that’s why he was turning off the sign). Still, the barista/house manager was really polite and didn’t even mention I h
ad overstayed their truncated hours for the day.
Return Likely: It was cozy, fast, and friendly. The coffee wasn’t bad. I would likely stop in to The Bottom Line, but if I needed a space of fewer distractions, this would be it. So, yeah, they will see me again.

Coffee Test # 21 MADCAP Coffee Company

Coffee test num. 21 MADCAP Coffee Company

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Location: Farmer and Grand River
Near: Boll Family YMCA, 1515 Broadway, Shinola Hotel, the former location of The Carr Center, Small Plates, Comerica Park, The Opera House
Parking: Metered street parking, parking garages, crazy expensive parking lots. Parking is a nightmare. This place is suited for people already on the go in the area with a little time to spare.
I ordered: Cappuccino
Coffee: Did not disappoint. And I knew it wouldn’t the moment I walked in. Sleek glass beakers, pristine white grinder, and the chromed out espresso machine told me this place didn’t play around. Plus, MADCAP is known for their roasting, which is distributed nationally. They are Grand Rapids based, with a few West Michigan shops. This Detroit location the newest and first stretch to the east side of the state.
Service: Order and pick up at the counter. The barista spoke as soon as I walked in, Image may contain: coffee, coffee cup and drinkwished me a happy Friday, and invited me to hang out in the Image may contain: indoorspace.
Wifi: Reliable and fast. The network requires no password, just a click box to agree to whatever their terms were.
Atmosphere: It feels like I am sitting in a giant, white gift box awaiting a very expensive present. The tall windows looking into the alley mural raise your eyes to the white popcorn ceilings showing the exposed wires and ducts. The black lining of the windows, seats and hang hooks under the tables gives a tuxedo feel. The space reads very clean, as everything is snow-colored: the mugs, cups, planter, coffee bar, window bar, tables, and display shelves. Even the gray floor is speckled in white, which gives the space a modern, nearly medical vibe. Plug in at the window war, but don’t count on it if the space is busy. There’s only room for 4 devices. But they are three-prong outlets, so don’t worry about adaptors. The bar has six short stools that sit at the perfect level for typing. Three large tables sit in the middle of the space. Be warned, if you have been on your feet all day, this space is not set up for sitting. The large tables Image may contain: indoorstand tall, have hooks for you to hang your things, and are devoid of chairs. This space encourages the standing-work model which keeps the brain moving, but dImage may contain: indooroes not have grace for poor shoe choices. Still, this fits with the movement of the surrounding area. The shop is hugged by hotels, the YMCA, restaurants, bars, and lots of people constantly on the go. The music is chill ethereal beats, mostly wordless. The kind of music you play when your work time cannot turn into karaoke hour for the party of one.
People: Everyone was polite. When I walked in, a pair of friends were gabbing about their favorite restaurants in the area. Another being was on his way out, tucking cords into his bag. A person in workout cloths came in, but clearly hadn’t worked out as his clothes were pristine, and no sign of sweat. Maybe he was on his way to the Y? For a moment, the space was completely cleared out. A couple of dudes with lusciously long hair and faded black skinny jeans dropped in for a quick cup to go. Later, a age-diverse gaggle of
suits walked in from what seems likImage may contain: outdoore a post business meeting, or pre-opera viewing. This is definitely in the heart of homes for the new Detroiters and suburban tourists in search of fun for the weekend; however, most seem to be bar and restaurant bound. MADCAP is pretty low key on Friday eve, and may be a
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 for a little post-work workflow. It seems to attract whomever is in the area who isn’t scared off by the expensive look 
of the place. The prices are comparable to most other shops in the area ($3-6).
Return Likely: Based on parking, it’s a no unless I’ve already committed to being downtown. Plus, the spot closes at 7, which is right before my leisure time typically begins. But, I would recommend it for anyone who loves a quality cup, a smile, and can take the brightness.

Coffee Test # 20. 320° Coffee & Creamery

Coffee test num. 20. 320° Coffee and CreameryNo photo description available.
Location: Peterboro and Cass

Return Likely: My curiosity of food, love of structural innovation, and appreciation of crowd watching will certainly bring me back, even if the prices and crawl of new Detroiters is annoying at times.

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Near: Fred’s Key Shop, Founders, Temple Bar, Masonic Temple, Cass Tech
Parking: There is free street parking and a pay lot next door ($10).
I ordered: Affogato with Chai Tea Ice Cream
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Coffee: The coffee was delicious with my ice cream. The price was higher than I have ever paid (just over $6, plus an additional dollar for my specialty ice cream). While I would prefer to pay less, the flavor did not disappoint.
Service: Order and pick up at the counter. The barista was very polite. It seemed they were being trained because they were unclear of the ratio of ice cream to espresso. I say, there can never be too much ice cream.
Wifi: There is Wifi available, but it was very slow. I switched to my phone’s hotspot to write this blog because it was taking too long for the facebook page to load.Image may contain: indoor
Atmosphere: The cafe is housed in Detroit Shipping Company, which is like a high-end cafeteria with various foodie-driven carryout restaurants, galleries and small shops. With $12 to $15 you have a choice of Caribbean offerings, inventive tacos, Thai food, dumplings, beer, Image may contain: plant, tree and outdoorcocktails, coffee, ice cream, burgers, and more. There are several spaces to set up shop. The main space is in the square of the shipping containers the restaurants are housed in. During the late afternoon to early evening, the place is sparsely populated, but towards the evening it becomes crowded with hungry, beverage-driven socialites. Jenga blocks sponsored by alcoholic companies top a few of the tables, encouraging No photo description play and a more bar-like atmosphere. Fortunately, there is an upstairs space on the perimeter of the main with tall tables for two and intimate experiences. The outlets are on opposite walls of the tables, which creates a bit of a complication. There also is a large conference table upstairs, which one writer found to be a perfect meeting space for penning on a Friday evening. Outdoor patios allow for sunshine and less boxed-in separation from the city. The music is your typical top 40 of the past 5 to 10 years, as well as classics that stay Image may contain: outdoorin rotation on old-school pop stations. It should be said, this space interrupts a neighborhood block of homes. Right outside the stacked shipping containers of upscale street food were a group of mostly black neighborhood folk enjoying leisure conversation and a game of dice. The dividing line of attractive new development and the oft-ignored long-time citizens is very thin. It will be interesting to see how Detroit evolves as the space of midtown/Cass Corridor and downtown is filled and businesses and innovative structures bleed more into neighborhoods.
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People: This place attracts a plethora of people: college students, downtown workers, nonprofit organizers, couples, even a few kids were roaming in the early hours of the space. There was a diversity of clientele in terms of race, career, and economic presentation. This is supported by the variety of offerings which are meant to satisfy large groups of gatherers.Image may contain: indoor
Return Likely: My curiosity of food, love of structural innovation, and appreciation of crowd watching will certainly bring me back, even if the prices and crawl of new Detroiters is annoying at times.Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Coffee Test # 19 Astro

Coffee test num. 19. Astro
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Location: Michigan and 14th
Near: The Old Train station, Mercury Bar, Two James, Gold Cash Gold, Bobcat Bonnies (Corktown), PJ’s Lager House
Parking: Metered on the street. There also is some free but sparse parking on the side street.Image may contain: indoor
I ordered: Flat White
Coffee: It was great. The warmth really helped peel off the winter chill in what should now be spring. As I looked into the foam art, I imagined those balls of hail from earlier melting onto the brown swirls.
Service: Friendly. I ordered at the counter. The barista approached right away. He delivered my drink to my seat, which I always love since I usually am lugging multiple things: bag, wallet, phone, water bottle, sanity.
Wifi: Um . . . They don’t have Wifi. Patrons are told they can rely on the public wifi and hotspots around the place. I say, put your trust in no one if on deadline, like I always am. If you can turn your phone into a hotspot without disintegrating your data, do it!
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Atmosphere: A very calming and bright pallet helps bring the sun in from the front facade. The east wall is painted creamy-white brick and plaster. Tall plants and long vines hang on the front display shelves, keeping the bagged beans company, and offering some relief air-wise (the space can easily get cramped). The wooden shelves help give an earthy accent to the space. The West wall is chalkboard, featuring vivid, bright designs of Asian myth/dream-inspired landscapes and creatures. The short menu shares the same wall. The back wall is a bright floral arrangement by popular artist Ouizi, helping to add more color since Michigan is late to the growth party. You can plug in under the flowers. Along the back wall is a long table for 6 to 8, 4 two-tops, and a church bench. The bar is long with fresh breads and other baked goodies displayed atop. The dull-blonde wood and white tile combine along the long counter for seating and drink mixing. The east wall has a high bar with wood and iron stools, as does the front window. Also in front are a couple more two-tops. In the back exposed-brick hall leading to the single stall bathrooms, you will find old-school blocks for the kiddies, a high chair, and the community board with the latest exhibits, concerts, book releases, and events. There is a long bench stretching the hall so your little one can roll that toy car of their’s up and down the wood like a track without disturbing that pretentious person peering on their nose-dipped glasses at you.Image may contain: plant, outdoor and indoor
People: The people seem to be the usual Corktown fare: owners of hipster-driven start-ups, musicians, specialty beer-lovers, nerdy writers typing away on their laptops, head-phoned and zoned out graphic designers. On this visit, there was a business meeting, a person waiting on a concert to begin, a family-ish of 3 seeming to catch up with mom/mentor who got some news from her daughter/mentee that made her vocally elated in a way that lit the entire space. Per usual, there were folk like me: a few loners in their phones and computers. Folk from Southwest, Dearborn, Detroit, and the burbs all enjoy the space.
Return Likely: The coffee has yet to disappoint, so yeah. I’ve come when in the area. While this place doesn’t have that community-centered appeal that I love in a good shop, it does have meet the cleanliness and quality standards. The music is never half-bad, according to my taste at least. No photo description available.

Coffee test # 18. Town Hall Caffe’

Coffee test num. 18. Town Hall Caffe’No photo description available.

Location: Grand River and Piedmont
Near: Elia Donuts, Roots Nature, Little Caesars, Pages Bookshop, Detroit Vegan Soul West
Parking: Free parking in front and free lot on the side
I ordered: AmericanoImage may contain: indoor
Coffee: It was ok. I prefer it a little more flavorful, but I didn’t let any go to waste.
Service: Friendly and at the counter. The barista, who I suspect is also the manager, was happy to talk about the breakfast burrito (eggs, potatoes, and veggies – meat can be added), and soup of the day (tomato). She also let me know that my 10th coffee purchase would earn me a free cup. And I don’t even need those annoying punch cards I can never keep up with. By entering my number, a text immediately came to my phone letting me know I was just 9 coffee fixes away from my freebie. There also is a mug club which gets you your favorite mug and a discount. My lovely partner purchased hers on her last visit because the mug was so cute and buying one helps the shop.
Wifi: So far it’s working. Although I want to throw my tablet out of the window (let’s just say this is the second … or third rendition of this blog).
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Atmosphere: Think basement or garage party. The walls are teal with one featuring a series of sectioned white borders housing various shades of blue. The floors are wood, and painted a soft winter blue. Tinged orange curtains help to keep some of the cold out. The place features a lot of untreated wood, giving it that in-progress feel. A mix-match of furniture adds to the community feel of the place: old worn leather sofa, used school tables, hand-made tables topped with chalkboard paint and the clear and faded residue of it’s tiny artists, long tables line another wall like triplets from another shop. The bar has a slightly more upscale feel to it. The walls of the barista bar are black, the counter itself a faux marble. Wooden boxes and potato sacks give it that posh-farm feel. The bar matches the ceiling, which is bronzed floral. The large windows open your view to Grand Rivers bustling traffic and the entrance to the south side of Rosedale’s island-split streets and greenery-lined sidewalks. Short brick walls in the view bring your eyes to the big brick houses curving down the streets. There are plugs available from a hanging extension cord on the front table (where the chalk is ready for your marks).You can also charge up in the east wall, where you will find the community printer(a working relic from what used to be Always Brewing, the shop that fronted the bill to transform the space).
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People: The people are awesome. Upon entering, a woman was sitting at a table on the east wall with pink yarn dancing between her needles and fingers. She was chatting with the barista/manager while looking over her glasses. Another younger woman was sitting with two boys, giving them a stern but calm mini-lecture on taking responsibility for their education. She then helped them through their English homework, helping once kid to properly write a min-essay on why he thinks school is so boring. A guy was posted at another table with his head in his laptop and his headphones thick on his head making a bubble of focus around him. Two women met briefly before scurrying off together for whatever mission they were on. This is a nice spot for people watching and getting engaged. I’ve seen this space transformed for open mics, local vendors, town hall-style meetings, and gathering places for community groups.
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Return Likely: Absolutely. Who cares if the coffee isn’t the best in the city. This space is wonderful, even if a little cold. I love supporting my local businesses, and I consider Rosedale an extension of my neighborhood, as I played soccer and softball here, enjoyed the June Day festivities for years, and always find myself needing a book or a vegan bite.
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Coffee Test #17

Coffee test num. 17. Seva Image may contain: outdoor

Location: Forest between John R and Woodward

Near: The Griot Music Lounge, SocraTea, MOCAD, Nmandi, DMC, Wayne State

Parking: They have a lot. The gateway is a small alleyway off of John R. Look for the little sign pointing you toward Seva. Make sure your shocks and tires nd in good standing, as the pits in this lot are big enough to swallow your bumper. It’s much better in winter when the holes are packed with hard snow. The good thing is there are usually spots available.

I ordered: Latte with dairy milk and a shot of Makers Mark. I also had their special Russian soup and, my favorite, the Vegan Nacho dip and chips.

Coffee: Honestly, another test is required. The shot of Makers was the most prominent flavor, which made my sore throat and aching body feel like I could stave off illness for a few more hours.

Service: I sat at the bar to enjoy the Happy Hour specials. The bartender was conversational and friendly. She supported my spiking of the latte and helped me sort through going for dairy or nut-based milk.

Wifi: Decent. I have not had good luck with it in the past, but perhaps a new leaf has turned. Unfortunately because I was so talkative with my neighbors, my tablet died before I could finish this blog. Image may contain: indoor

Atmosphere: The high, triangular wood ceiling gives the place a ski-lodge feel in the back by the bar. Exposed brick on the south wall is spotted with tan-shaded windows keeping the harsh sun from completely blinding patrons. The bar features an opaque glass background and stained-glass windows, fitting with the grayish-blue walls that calm the space. Tables are available near the bar, a couple line the walls with plugs, but this space is not set up for nesting. The front area of the restaurant has booths and tables. The booths are topped by stained glass which catches the full windows that line the east walls and entrance. The concrete floors remind you this is an urban space. The art rotates and features local artists. 

No photo description available.People: Any space that serves vegans and vegetarians is sure to bring a diversity of folks. On visits, I have seen full families grabbing a bite after church, business meetings, brunch gaggles, coworkers escaping the hospital life across the street, and artist stopping in for appetizers and beverage. Today I sat next to a couple of students (future pharmacists, perhaps) who were grieving over their next big test and less-than-dedicated classmates. Meanwhile, the elementary math teacher next to me was enjoying a quick meal and pre-celebratory drink for his KappaVersary before heading to The Griot to meet up with his frat brother. I also met a guy who went vegan 3 years ago in the midst of a health kick. Mississippi-born, he said he’s enjoying Detroit and his managerial position at Ford. This place always brings interesting folk together for a little small talk, booze and guilt-free food.

Return likely: That vegan cashew nacho dish brings me back again and again. While it is hard to get much work done in the space, it makes a great Friday eve spot to celebrate the near-end of my work week.

Coffee Test #16

Coffee test num. 16. Avalon International Breads

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Location: Willis and Cass

Near: Alley Taco, Source Booksellers, HUGO, what used to be the Spiral Collective, Mario’s

Parking: On the street in front of the space is free, but crammed parking. Metered parking is available in every direction.

Image may contain: coffee, drink and coffee cupI ordered: Cortado

Coffee: This was a good experience. I’m not typically a fan of Avalon’s coffee. I usually come for bread, heat, and the friendly service, and settle for decent coffee. The cortado exceeded my expectations. For future visitors, perhaps stay away from my go-to cap here, and instead try the other offerings.

Service: I order at the counter. Usually, I stand and wait for my beverage and goodies, but today the barista found me at a table and delivered my drink!

Wifi: Good. Although my computer was lagging behind significantly.

Atmosphere: This space is one of the few spots left on this block. Goodwells and The Spiral Collective, and a few other places have met their business funerals in the past couple of years. Meanwhile, Avalon opened a new spot downtown. Still, this Cass Corridor staple remains busy and beloved. This cozy space is coated in tones of bronze, maple red, and industrial gray and wood. There are charming breaks in uniformity, as a few mix-matched tables and chairs interrupt the flow of the space to give a more relaxed feel. The chalkboard menu this early March was accented in red, and hearts hung from the ceiling, holding onto the love fest of February. The floor is a story book itself, with evidence of the many changes that have been made over the years. Look down into the concrete, tile, and epoxy remnants. There are plugs on the south wall, enough for 4 devices, so come pre-charged. Nearly every seat has a nice window view of the rehabbed homes that line Willis. There is a 6-foot bench that lines the side of the counter where the coffee magic happens. Arrive early in the morning for the added bonus of fresh-bread smells that will make you give up on your low-carb efforts. Also, there wall of community posters are a library of events and happenings in the area. Need a gallery, music, or discussion fix? Let your eyes find your next calendar pin on the west wall. BONUS: Gender-neutral bathroom. There is just one stall, but it’s always clean, spacious, and free of gender boundaries.Image may contain: indoor

People: There is a nice mix of everyone in this space. On one morning when grabbing coffee with the boo, a group of runners were congregating before their morning routine. This Friday early eve, the place was less crowded than usual. Usually the line is stretching the length of the space. Today, the two-to-three tops were filled with laptops and and folders of things to check off a list before the weekend. A few people were there for a quiet convo with a friend, while others sipped alone enjoying a few moments of warmth and stillness before moving on to their next destination. I’ve always had friendly experiences here. The diversity is more so in the line for bread. People of all different races and cultures stop in for these gluten-No photo description available.heavy baked goods. Stand in line with suburbanites looking to offer a Detroit flair to their dinner party, young activist with hungry tummies, poets with a longing for bread and soup, kids appeasing their sweet tooth with monkey bread, business folk in search of a quick salad and sandwich, and family folk ensuring they can make hearty lunches out of Avalon’s many loaf offerings.

Return likely: I’ve returned to this staple again and again. I’m addicted to the sticky buns, can always find something quick to eat, and am never rubbed wrong by the service.

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