This Jefferson-Chalmers Café Combines Cool Vibes With a Cryptic Name

Coffee and (______) is a small-town social center in the big city

The stretch of Detroit’s Jefferson Avenue just east of Chalmers began to take on a spruced-up new look just about the time Angela Foster (above) decided to relocate her West Village pop-up there. She had dipped her toe into the neighborhood the first time during a “June on Jefferson” event in 2013, thinking it would be a temporary move.

Four years later, she’s still there, behind the intriguing sign that prompts a second look with its enigmatic name: Coffee and (______).

To discover what the blank stands for, go inside. What the talented pastry chef has come up with is a one-of-a-kind spot that has become a haven for those who appreciate its friendliness and undemanding welcome.

Bring a book or a laptop and sit at the coffee bar where Foster makes a long list of organic coffees, teas, and hot chocolate one cup at a time. Or, take a table or perch on a chaise lounge near the front windows. And maybe ask what is the featured pastry of the day.

It’s all open seating. Stay as long as you want, and if you’d like to bring in a piece of art you hope to sell, feel free. Detroit artist Ouizi did, a collage she calls “Parts of a Whole,” displayed toward the back of the room (and not yet sold on our last visit).

Still, says Foster, “this is not for everybody.” Perhaps it’s too laid-back, or the plant-based/vegan spin is too severe for some, but that group is surely in the minority. It’s a small-town social center in the big city, and it’s hard to resist.

Foster was born in Saginaw, and got a degree at Eastern Michigan University in film, theatre, and English. She followed that up with a certificate in baking and pastry art from Schoolcraft College the very first year it was offered (2004). Her eclectic career over the years has included being a chef (and first mate) on a 37-foot sailboat for six months and two years at the Ritz-Carlton, during which time one of her tasks was doing “plates” — decorating each plate before it was taken to the dining room.

She seems to have found her niche in this flower-bedecked storefront with her favorite fresh blush pink roses displayed in glass vials, one of the touches that gives Coffee and (______) its personality.

Special events in January include brunch from 10 a.m-3 p.m. on Jan. 7 and open-mic nights from 6-9 p.m. on Jan. 9 and 23. Hours vary. Call 708-717-1514 to check the schedule. 14409 E. Jefferson, Detroit.