Indie Coffeehouses Serve Personal Perks
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Bean & Leaf Café
106 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-586-9602; 439 S. Main St., Rochester; 248-601-1411, mybeanandleaf.com.
The Bean & Leaf manages to make you feel like a good citizen just for being there. It offers locally made products, including baked goods from Detroit’s Avalon International Breads, fair-trade, organic coffee, and 100-percent biodegradable coffee cups. Its staff is friendly and easygoing. Bean & Leaf often displays noteworthy photo exhibits, and it’s open late (until 11 p.m. during the week), making it a popular hangout for the late-night study crowd.
Plymouth Coffee Bean Co.
884 Penniman, Plymouth; 734-454-0178, plymouthcoffeebean.com.
“The Bean,” as it’s affectionately called, is a little slice of hip, indie culture in the middle of cheerfully mainstream downtown Plymouth. Its specialty-drinks menu includes items created by customers and baristas. That commitment to individuality extends to bumper-sticker wall art, including one that reads, “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.” The café hosts regular poetry readings, weekly classic-movie nights with popcorn, a monthly children’s story time, and live music on weekends. Its converted-house setting appears rather worn from the outside. Once inside, however, patrons find a spacious, comfortable setting with rooms painted in different colors. But the best seating is outside, where a front porch overlooks charming Penniman Avenue and chairs are grouped beneath a large shade tree.
AJ’s Music Café
240 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-3946, ajsmusiccafe.com.
AJ’s is an interesting blend. On one hand, it’s your friendly local hippie café with a menu offering vegan options and the scent of patchouli in the air. On the other, it’s run by an owner ambitious enough to land the café in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous concert (288 hours) by multiple artists. That feat came on the heels of a 50-hour, non-stop performance of “Danny Boy” that brought the likes of Gov. Jennifer Granholm through its doors. Mondays-Thursdays are open-mike nights, which feature acoustic music and poetry. AJ’s also hosts quality theater productions (along with some that are a bit more avant-garde).
90 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens; 586-954-2677.
This warm, colorful coffeehouse brings an upbeat atmosphere to downtown Mount Clemens. The coffee is roasted on-site, and soymilk drinkers rave about the soy lattes. Che Cosa’s baked goods go well beyond the usual bagels and zucchini bread. The array includes muffins, bars, and oversized cookies baked in-house. Homemade soups and sandwiches make Che Cosa a good lunch spot, too. Feel free to take a midday snooze on one of the welcoming couches or grab a cup to go and take a one-block stroll to the Clinton River.
THEY KNOW BEANS
• Michigan may not grow coffee beans, but locals certainly know how to roast them.
Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co., in Bloomfield Hills, is a micro-roaster of specialty-grade coffee, including many that are fair trade and organic. The company roasts its beans to order.
As Great Lakes says on its Web site, “We are solely focused on the business of properly roasting and packaging exceptional coffees for a very discriminating clientele. As a true micro-roaster, our strength is in our attention to detail and our ability to adjust to the needs and demands of the educated coffee buyer.”
Chazzano Coffee Roasters in Ferndale is metro Detroit’s other roaster of note. Chazzano doubles as a café with contemporary décor and a friendly staff. It has taken some heat for not posting its menu and resisting consumer requests for flavored syrups and even milk and sugar.
But even naysayers acknowledge that Chazzano coffee is outstanding.
Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co.; 248-745-0000, greatlakescoffee.com. Chazzano Coffee; 1737 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-691-4256; chazzanocoffee.com.