It's no secret that big things are happening in the Motor City these days. Little Caesars Arena is open for business and has had a busy first couple of months hosting concerts and sporting events. City leaders are pushing for Amazon to locate its second headquarters within its boundaries (and released an absolutely "fire" hype video to that end). And tech startups are popping up everywhere, or so it seems.
Having lived on Detroit's Eastside for three and a half months last year, I can personally attest to the energy and positive vibes that are wafting throughout the city's streets. People are getting shit done, and let me tell you: I'm a fan.
You know what else I'm a fan of? Coffee, the fuel that helps me get shit done. And there are plenty of venues to grab yourself a cup of the black nectar of the gods when in the Motor City. In living there for that short period and in visiting again recently, here are a few of my favorite coffee shops to stop by in Detroit (not necessarily — not at all, actually — taking into account the quality of the coffee they sell):
1. The Bottom Line Coffee House
Tucked away in Detroit's Midtown near the campus of Wayne State University is The Bottom Line Coffee House, a below-street level coffee shop that is the very definition of unassuming. Located at 4474 3rd Avenue on the ground floor of a four-story red brick building, the words "The Bottom Line" on the structure's street-level facade and a black, foldable sign on the sidewalk listing the shop's hours are the only indicators telling passersby, "Hey, there's a coffee shop down here." Just driving by, you'd easily miss it.
Down the three or four steps from the street and through the door you go, stepping inside a warm and cozy coffee shop environment. In one corner is a book and vinyl record collection waiting to be explored, while cool Detroit-themed merchandise such as T-shirts and mugs stand on shelves near the counter where you'll place your order. The limited space and seating add to the intimate feeling of The Bottom Line. It would be easy to spend hours here.
I swear I've written about this place before, but I cannot seem to remember why or what for. Ah well, even if a write-up exists elsewhere, it won't hurt to sing the praises of Trinosophes once more. Pronounced "tree-no-sofe," this cafe and performance space at 1464 Gratiot Avenue in Detroit's Eastern Market district is known locally for regular live music and other types of performances, as well as for occasional art exhibitions, its record store, and the available book collections.
"At first glance, it looks like the sort of new-Detroit cool spot that is pushing out the old, but (owner Joel) Peterson said it’s anything but," wrote Nancy Derringer in a 2014 article for Bridge Magazine. Peterson is quoted further in that article, saying, "We don’t want to identify as 'new Detroit.' We are old Detroit. (Trinosophes is) based on actual relationships, actually being part of the community. We’re not trying to think of how to bring in this or that demographic. We’re inclusive in everything we do."
Four years on from its initial opening in 2013, Trinosophes, in my opinion, is living up to the standards Peterson set. Plus, with their large space (the size of three storefronts along Gratiot, according to Urban Innovation Exchange), they've got a lot of room to show off that whole minimalistic style thing they do so well.
3. The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company
Finally, we head back to Midtown where The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company stands at the corner of Woodward Avenue and W. Alexandrine Street, close to the Majestic Theatre and Union Street Detroit. If you are an architectural fiend (that's a thing, right?) or interior design buff, I imagine you'd love this place, what with its exposed brick, reclaimed wood, and wildlife-inspired art. I would honestly be in love if the inside of my house looked similar to the way this coffee shop does.
Apart from its status as interior design eye candy, Great Lakes stays open until 11 p.m. on most nights and until midnight on Friday and Saturday, so if you've got an all-day type project, you can easily post up here. And if things start getting stressful, they have a pretty well-stocked bar, too. Staying in line with the season, I had a hot cider when I visited recently (but only because I'd already had my fill of coffee from The Bottom Line earlier in the day).
BONUS: Roasting Plant Coffee at 660 Woodward Avenue, for your Downtown Detroit coffee needs (and conveniently located adjacent to Campus Martius Park).