I went to Michigan to see family, as well as visit The Henry Ford and U-M’s various museums. I did not intend to fall in love with the local coffee.
As we drove though New Jersey and deep into Pennsylvania, we noticed the signs advertising Starbucks dropped off rather quickly, and the Dunkin’ Donuts were spaced further and further apart. I panicked. I’ve heard rumors about bad coffee in the midwest. Dunkin’, though burnt-tasting and meh, was a good stand-by.
My husband and I drove through this…
… and this…
… to find this:
The northeast part of the midwest seems to be Tim Hortons territory. Yes, the chain has been in New York for some time now, but that little kiosk I frequented in Penn Station was nothing like the standalone stores in Toronto I hit up when I visited back in 2007 (and no, it didn’t taste the same either). But here, in the middle of Ohio, we found glazed sour cream donut heaven with a double-double on the side. The coffee is weak, but when coupled with the stuff shown below, who frigging cares!!
Not shown are the sold out maple-cinnamon bagels, the tomato-asiago bagel, the pretzel bagel or the carrot muffin. Oh, dear, sweet calories. Why are you not available in these forms on every corner in my neighborhood? And how pretty is that confetti-colored donut over there?
Onward through Michigan, it was clear the Canadians had conquered the donut market and there were Tim Hortons everywhere. I was liking Michigan very much.
Except when I found this in a local Meijer supermarket right after we arrived. Pickled bologna. What the fuck is wrong with you Michigan?!?! For goodness’ sake, why?!
Then I saw this a few aisles later. Enchanté, gorgeous. Rawr! Michigan, I forgive you for that thing in the jar. This butter, this glorious butter, product of the sainted cow, was just… beautiful.
We eventually picked up a pound of Biggby coffee and were really pleased with it. It’s a chain based in East Lansing. Their motto is “Biggby Coffee is my happy place” and, indeed, we were no longer afraid of bad coffee tainting out trip to Michigan. Local places FTW!! And, no, we did not try the birthday cake latte.
The next morning, after taking a spin around U-M’s Museum of Natural History and driving through downtown Ann Arbor, we went off the tourist trail to discover a string of Zingerman’s shops in a business park on the south side of town.
This little strip of paradise in a stretch of business suites is where a local company called Zingerman’s makes all sorts of deliciousness in full view of the coffee set-up in their Bakehouse. I didn’t take any pictures of the sexiness for sale because I was too busy sipping coffee (which is strong, but with a nice bite) watching people pinch, stretch, roll out, and finally shape that dough into the bread I’d be buying the following morning while giggling my ass off.
The woman behind the register probably thought I was high. But the whole shop had a happy hippy vibe, so maybe she just thought I was feeling the flow.
Oh, I was, Cathy. I was.
Sweet, sweet gelato. We were overwhelmed by the choices (and getting nagged by the kids who, sadly, are allergic to dairy milk and have zero interest in anything that’s a bovine bi-product. They’ll just never understand *sniff; wipes away a tear*). Panic set in and we got coffee gelato, which was sweet and smooth, but could have used a stronger coffee flavor. We solved that problem by pouring some of Biggby’s best over it, affogato style. So good.
Just imagine two adult dairy-tolerant parents of two dairy-allergic children staring at this board, simultaneously giddy with delight over the offerings and also incredibly guilty about partaking in dairy deliciousness in front of kids who’d fall ill with the slightest bit of milk in their systems.
They also sell cheese and a selection of beers to accompany it. So many pretty bottles.
Did I mention the Bakehouse sells lard?
They sell lard, right next to containers of fresh yeast and pints of sweet, creamy Guernsey Farms milk straight from southeast Michigan. Locavores FTW!
The next morning we did some more exploring and the GPS lead us to RoosRoast Coffee, another coffee joint in another business park. This place was really good.
It was staffed by young bohemians and filled with old gentlemen wearing plaid flannel and trucker caps, who I think should be happy that everyone came around to share their sense of sensible style. This morning was drizzly and dreary, but RoosRoast was packed.
The coffee is strrrong; think espresso disguised as a regular cup of Joe. The scent of this place is delicious. Across from the barista is a condiment station featuring everything you’d want to pour into your brew, including turmeric for all you paleo-loving folks. Near the sweeteners and spices are all the freebie papers and flyers you’d expect to see in a college town with a strong contingent of social activist students.
I really liked RoosRoast, but I left my heart at Zingerman’s.
We went back. Again and again. How could I not? Look at the coffee menu!
They break down the coffees by brewing method! And all the different attributes those methods bring to the table! This, dear readers, is love. Love for coffee. Love for customers. Love for data.
Coffee nerd love is a beautiful thing.