People frequent Michigan 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.
How to Determine the Best Michigan Coffee Shops
It’s important to consider what makes for a good cup of coffee, but more than that, it’s important to consider the coffee shops that make the best coffee.
I believe it all starts with the coffee being fresh and made right when you order it. The coffee beans used should be recently roasted and grounded, scoring extra points for being roasted in-house.
All coffees are similar once you add things like cream, sugar, and syrups. What is really important is how the coffee stands on its own, the aroma, its taste, and how it makes you feel as you sip.
Whether it be a true coffee or a specialty one like a latte, the care taken in making each one, its presentation, and the surroundings with which you drink it are just as important.
With those things in mind, here are some Michigan coffee shops that are doing it right and offering a great cup of coffee…
Best State-Wide Michigan Coffee Shop
Biggby has 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!
Best Upper Peninsula Coffee Shops
Java Joes Café – St Ignace
Not everything is in the Mitten, for this shop, head across the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace and this colorful coffeehouse. I could go here early every day and enjoy a cup of joe reading the morning paper.
Upon entering, you’ll be amongst all the décor, murals, knick-knacks, and a never-ending breakfast menu. The shop is a tourist attraction in and of itself.
Grab a shot of the renowned espresso (in the U.P.) or a latte made with any flavor you can imagine.
Northern Michigan’s Best Coffee Shops
Brew – Traverse City
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.
Java Jones – Elk Rapids
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 in-house, 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.
Best West Michigan Coffee Shops
Water Street Coffee Joint – Kalamazoo
The good folks at Water Street Coffee Joint 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.
The Bitter End – Grand Rapids
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 Michigan coffee shop 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.
Rowster Coffee – Grand Rapids
Sitting alongside Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids is this hip coffee roaster. Park at the window and enjoy the neighborhood vibe as you sip a craft coffee made with their Milky Way beans.
Many brewing methods are available, though the menu is limited. No creamer, milk, sugar or standard syrups here as they think coffee should be experienced in its natural state.
They do, however, offer a sweet in-house-made almond milk. Maybe you’ll catch them “rowsting.”
Drip Drop Drink – Muskegon
This is the place in Muskegon for a true craft coffee experience. This award-winning small shop in the Russel Block building uses a drip-style, pour-over coffee brewing process. The time it takes to make/craft their offerings is well worth it. Get the iced pour over!
Lattes and cappuccinos are also available. Get there early, as a line usually forms and seating is extremely limited to take in the shop’s cool vibe.
Best Coffee Shop in Mid-Michigan
Foster Coffee Company – Owosso
Latte lovers should head to Owosso’s historic downtown. You can be assured that you are going to get a great pour with the care and time they take with each one.
I also recommend a pour-over made with beans from Michigan’s own Madcap Coffee. I love the shop’s buildout, including the custom-painted logo on the penny-tiled floor.
Their ultimate vision is to “foster community through coffee.”
Southeastern Michigan Coffee Shops to Visit
RoosRoast Coffee – Ann Arbor
When locals in Ann Arbor think quality coffee, this coffee roaster is front and center. I recommend ordering a Long Pull using their signature Lobster Butter Love coffee beans.
They roast at their original location on Rosewood Street, where you can find a quirky café with a throwback décor. The new shop downtown is more modern and is where you will often find me sitting outside at a table that is also a bike.
Anthology Coffee – Corktown Detroit
When in Detroit, head off the beaten path in Corktown to the factory building that holds the coworking and co-making space, Ponyride. Here, you’ll find a delicious Detroit roaster where their countless coffee gadgets sit on an island in the middle of the room, helping to form the craft coffee magic.
They serve you at your table and you can pour your own coffee out of a carafe and enjoy it straight (of course) amongst the minimalist and peaceful shop.
Tip: Grab a four-pack of in-house bottled cold brew to go.
Hyperion Coffee Co. – Ypsilanti
Another roaster who recently opened up a café, this one performs their coffee magic in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town. Whether grabbing a coffee to sit at the large wood community table, or buying a bag of beans to go, their Ethiopian variety coffee beans are the prime choice.
We fully realize this is not a comprehensive list of the best Michigan coffee shops, so we need YOUR help – tell us about your favorite place to get coffee in Michigan!
contributed by Brian Murray and Aaron Cruz