People frequent coffee shops for all sorts of reasons. Some show up to read, and some are there to sip a cup of coffee and soak up the atmosphere. You will find me in one – as you will find many of my fellow students – hunched over a table with a bottomless cup of Joe, cranking out a paper that is due in the morning. Coffee shops are also great places to meet your friends for a hot drink on a cold evening, and for board games, conversation, or whatever suits your fancy. Here is our list of seven of Michigan’s best.
Many locations throughout the Midwest.
I know what you’re thinking. A chain? Really? Fear not – Biggby isn’t just any old chain, it’s Michigan’s very own chain. The first store opened in East Lansing in 1995 and since then, Biggby outlets have spread throughout Michigan and into Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas. Biggby roasts and blends their own coffees, including specialty brews like Michigan Cherry. You can’t beat the price, either: a 20-ounce cup of coffee, or “grande” in Biggby cup sizes, will only set you back about two dollars.
108 E. Front Street
Hours: 7:00am – 1:00am, Wednesday through Saturday; 7:00am – 12:00am Sunday through Tuesday
When I heard that Brew was a coffee shop that also had a bar, I thought it was some kind of cruel joke, getting my hopes up before dashing them to the ground. Not so – this aptly named joint in Traverse City is my dream come true. I’m not alone: the readers of the Northern Express named it the best coffee hangout spot in Grand Traverse County. Every Sunday morning, Brew features a French toast and mimosa breakfast and, for the musically inclined, they have free acoustic music starting at 8:00 on Sunday evenings. You can check out their Facebook page to keep up with upcoming specials and events.
3. Java Jones
131 River Street
Hours: 7:00am – 2:00pm Monday, 7:00am – 5:00pm Tuesday through Friday, 8:00am – 8:00pm Saturday, 8:00am – 5:00pm Sunday
If you like specialty coffees, Java Jones is the place for you. They have a variety of mouth-watering specialties including Elk Rapids Cherry Mocha, and Caramel Apple Latte. They also serve gourmet sandwiches, and make much of what they serve themselves, including salsa and salad dressing. There is a great atmosphere to the place: come in during the colder months and take a seat by the fireplace or, when the weather is warmer, move outside and enjoy the breeze off Grand Traverse Bay.
57 East 8th Street
Hours: 6:00am – 11:00pm Monday through Friday, 7:00am – 11:00pm Saturday, 1:00pm – 6:00pm Sunday
Downtown Holland is a great place to wander around, and nobody benefits from that foot traffic quite like JP’s. Their location has housed everything from a sporting goods store to a Radio Shack, but in 1993 Jack Groot dreamed of a coffee house there, and made it a reality. One of the coolest features at JP’s is their Home Barista Training Class, which is done in partnership with the Midwest Barista School. They teach you the basics of the business, from pulling espresso to crafting the perfect latte. Sounds a lot like school, but don’t let that scare you off!
123 West Washington Street, 407 North Fifth Avenue, and 3393 Plymouth Road,
Hours: vary by location
In addition to their list of great coffees, Sweetwaters offers an amazing selection of teas for all palates. It’s quite intimidating if, like me, your tea is either black or green, and anything more specific sounds like a foreign language, but be daring! Take a chance on the White Peony, or on their house blend, the Empress Flower. While you drink your coffee or tea, sit back and enjoy the open, modern design of all three locations. Their smooth lines and natural lighting make for a very relaxing experience.
315 E. Water Street, and 3037 Oakland Drive,
Hours: vary by location
The good folks at Water Street take their coffee very seriously. Their website will help you learn all you could hope to about the characteristics of coffee, its history, and the different beans that go into the mix. The only thing they seem to care more about than giving you a perfect cup of java is art. Each location features a different artist every month, and they’re always on the lookout for new talent from all walks of life - you can apply to have your own art featured in one of their stores. If you’re not feeling up to that, you can still come on in and enjoy whatever’s happening.
752 West Fulton,
If you’re like me and don’t properly wake up until the sun goes down, the open-all-hours Bitter End might just be your home away from home. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time; the building is a century old, and they’ve held on to the original tin ceiling, oak woodwork, and leaded glass windows. They have an extensive selection of specialty drinks and, for Italian Soda fans, over fifty flavors of Torani syrup. The Bitter End uses Fair Trade coffee whenever possible. It’s a friendly place to get a cup of coffee and have a good time – they have a selection of card and board games you’re free to borrow and play whenever you’d like.
Did we leave your favorite off the list? Tell us about it in the comments! And stayed tuned for our next feature on even more of Michigan’s awesome coffee shops!