Ah, Ann Arbor. One of the most heartwarming cities I have ever stepped foot in, and home to the oh-so prestigious University of Michigan. Simply walking around the campus made me feel like I could be a Noble Laureate.
With great education must come great coffee, and I suspected that I would find some low-key fancy coffee shops hiding in the corners. I was not at all disappointed.
The first stop was Literati coffee. This was an interesting coffee shop which was a bookstore on the first floor of the store and it had a stairway that led up to the second floor where you could order your coffee and drink it with a nice view of the city street. It was like a cozy, tiny version of Barnes-and-Nobles where you could find your fellow local bookworms.
The menu was similar to the Italian beverages such as those offered in Starbucks. However, there were some more niche options available that you would have a tough time finding elsewhere.
I ordered a Cortado, a fairly milky espresso-beverage. To my delight, it was served exactly as one might find when they go to Italy. I loved the authenticity!
The next location I visited was RoosRoast Coffee. This cafe was very lively when I visited, and it had a sort of ‘don’t worry, be yourself’ type of vibe expressed through its quirky branding and warm atmosphere.
The staff were also fun and easy to talk to, adding to the fun nature of the environment. Most coffee shops I go to have one or two employees at the counter, but Roosroast felt more like a home with a family than a business. That kind of inviting atmosphere is one I hope that Roosroast continues to preserve.
At Roosroast, I ordered their special slow-pulled espresso just out of curiosity. Every sip felt like I was shooting caffeine. I loved it!
The Common Cup was more on the outskirts of downtown Ann Arbor. If you’re willing to walk a little bit farther after class, I would highly recommended checking out this more upscale, classier type of coffee shop. If you would like to study or go for a date, this is definitely the place, with cool artwork in the background and the grand piano hanging around for you to show off your skills.
I ordered a Masala Chai coffee, since it was probably my fourth cup of coffee that day and I wanted something a little different. I am generally skeptical of anything ‘chai’ related at a coffee shop (admittedly due to my Indian heritage leading to high expectations). Although the flavor wasn’t like a strong traditional Indian ‘garam’ chai, the caffeine from the espresso and the Milky Goodness Factor (MFG) compensated for it and resulted in a nice delicious treat.
And for the grand finale, I found myself hungry and found a Middle Eastern place in town at The Jerusalem Garden. I gazed at the menu, picked the falafel sandwiched, looked further down, and I was delighted to see Turkish coffee offered on the menu.
Turkish coffee is slowly starting to become more recognized and appreciated in the United States, but it still has a long way to go. At The Jerusalem Garden, the presentation was again, very authentic with the Turkish pot and small white cups.
I love having coffee after a meal to counteract the sleepy feeling you sometimes get, and the falafel sandwich + coffee was the perfect combo.
Trying out all of these different shops in the span of 10 hrs. was not easy (but then again, I am nowhere close to my college professor who said he used to drink 22 shots of espresso in a day). Ann Arbor was a charming place and the diversity of the cafes reflects how many different ways there really are to drink coffee. The irony is that I don’t even know all the shops which are located in my own home city, so one thing I highly encourage is to just grab a friend, go out, and explore. You never know what you might find!