Since 1996, City Coffeehouse has drawn in guests with the scents of freshly brewed arabica coffee, simmering specialty drinks, and ambrosial baked gourmet desserts. Organic and fair-trade beans percolate into cups of specialty Almond Joy lattes and seasonal Mudslide cappuccinos with irish cream after thorough grounding, and 13 types of hot chocolate warm esophagi. The café strives to emulate the communal atmosphere of the traditional coffeehouse, hosting local chess and book-club meetings—as well as confused Edinburgh intellectuals imported straight from the 18th century—amid the vibrant red walls and framed artwork that surround clusters of tables and cushy couches. A 5:30 a.m. opening time accommodates early risers, and free WiFi encourages Internet exploration. Special events and regular open-mic nights give visitors the chance to perform yodel covers of Prince hits before a respectful audience.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
Before Pam Turkin flung open the doors to the first Just Baked in 2009, she was just baking cupcakes on the weekends. But after her corporate travels took her past a growing number of cupcake shops outside of southeastern Michigan, she decided to turn her hobby into a career. She now helms 40 shops in the area, where she and her staff of dessert experts whip up eclectically flavored cupcakes such as black forest cheesecake, pineapple upside down cake, and tiramisu. In addition to the mouthwatering flavors, all of their items boast real butter, real eggs, and real milk as opposed to artificial ingredients from artificial cows and chickens.
A southern Lebanese village was the first site of Hashems Nuts and Coffee Gallery, started by the current owners' grandfather—Abu Ali Sheik Theeb—in 1959. He roasted coffee and nuts fresh daily, blending spices and cooking falafel by hand that lured patrons from as far as Beirut. While the Dearborn stores are far removed from Lebanon, the Hashem family still mimics the original store's wares with daily roasted Turkish coffee, authentic recipes, and a wealth of Middle Eastern goods. Cooks can stock their pantries with Lebanese olive oil or pickled pepperoncini, and fill their spice racks with Spanish saffron and hand-mixed kibbeh spice blends. Dry-roasted or raw nuts mingle with dates and Turkish dried apricots to create a customizable trail mix. The staff also makes hookahs available for sale—like the art at museums if you bring your art to the museum and start selling it.