A silvery wand dips into a carafe of fresh milk, which will be used to form the foam that tops a steamy cappuccino. The smell of freshly brewed Arabica beans wafts through the air, countered by the buttery aroma of a crepe cooking on a circular griddle. Serving up sandwiches at lunch as well as sweet and savory crepes for breakfast, the staffers at Brix Coffee offer visitors a taste of Europe without the unpleasant aftertaste caused by chewing on a map. After meals, the café's daily-made custard can be blended into shakes and smoothies or scooped into sundaes or waffle cones.
At the suggestion of her son, Mary Hogan-Bard named her coffee shop Claddagh Coffee. The name (pronounced kla'-dah) is an Irish symbol of two hands holding a crowned heart. It signifies love, friendship, and loyalty—qualities embodied by the West End cafe. The hands-and-heart logo appears on everything from windows to tees, and its meaning comes alive as baristas cheerfully craft Midwestern-roasted coffee, espresso drinks, and Irish-themed specialties. An espresso drink named Ceili (Gaelic for "dance") combines caramelized pineapple puree with coconut-cream milk foam. Foodsmiths prepare breakfast pastries, small plates, and paninis with organic ingredients, and hosts lead events including live concerts and book discussions. Large umbrellas, which can also be used to accent very large tiki drinks, shade the outdoor patio. Catering is available.
The menu at Café Cravings, sister restaurant to Cravings Wine Bar & Grille, is in essence an encyclopedia of classic American cuisine. There are the sandwiches, which run the gamut from crisp BLTs and triple-decker clubs to the sizzling, strawberry-kissed Monte Cristo. There are the soups, which fill sourdough bread bowls, and the rotating selection of quiches. But most impressive has to be the breakfast. The 25-strong selection is served all day, ensuring that even those who wake up late or have their watch on backward get a bite of fluffy, ham-stuffed Denver omelets and apple-walnut pancakes topped with maple butter.
The eight-page dessert menu is no slouch either. Those who call ahead get their pick of whole cakes, tarts, cobblers, pies, cheesecakes, and other sugar-laden delicacies, which they can pick up inside or at the convenient drive-through window.
The baristas at J. Arthur's Coffee strive to cultivate appreciation for artisanal coffee by focusing on unblended coffee with unique characteristics. The shop trades directly with farmers that use sustainable methods, developing relationships with individual coffee-bean producers who are dedicated to distributing high-quality beans that taste magical but don’t sprout into beanstalks. J. Arthur’s blends espresso drinks with whole and 1% milk from Autumnwood Farms, a local family-owned operation that only raises grass-fed cattle. As patrons sip lattes and scarf down house-made sandwiches, live musicians fill the air with soothing tunes.
Though inspired by the northern California cafés of the early 1980s, Espresso Royale fits right in with Michigan’s modern coffee drinkers—in 2012 readers of The Michigan Daily voted it Best Coffee Shop for the third year in a row. Their coffees include a house blend developed in 1987, which has since been joined by a chocolate-almond roast and a southern Italian-style espresso called Napoli. Royale's customers also clamor to the counter for favorites such as raspberry mochas, mint hot chocolates, and ginger dragon, a tea layered with fresh lemon and steeped ginger root that can be served iced or heated by a dragon named Ginger.