Great Lakes Coffee is Detroit’s hip coffee shop in Midtown. They have an attentive staff and a sleek industrial interior. It’s the coffee place to be whether you’re local or visiting.
I noticed him right away. He was tall and well-dressed with a five o’clock shadow that made him look a bit older than he was. He wasn’t a regular customer, clear by how his eyes rested for a moment on our industrial-style shop, noting the brick walls, then the duct ceiling work, and lastly on the other patrons, working on laptops at the tables nearby.
I wasn’t helping anyone else, so I said, “Welcome to Great Lakes Coffee. How’s it going, man?”
He looked startled for a moment, then nodded at me and walked over to the bar. I leaned forward on my elbows, resting for a moment as he took in all of the options on the menu. Time clicked by, and I could tell he was overwhelmed. Espresso, cortados, americanos, cold brew… with so many good options, sometimes they freeze in their tracks.
“Whatcha feeling today?” I asked, hoping it might spark some inspiration.
He chuckled and shrugged. “Lots.”
“We got it all, man. Most guys come through here looking for that espresso kick in the morning. To be honest though, this Costa Rican brew we have is pretty top-notch. We roast it all ourselves, too.”
“Is that right?” he said nonchalantly as he continued to look over the menu.
“The cold brew is pretty good, too. Can’t really go wrong with anything we have.”
The man sighed after I stopped talking, long and hard, and looked behind me at the shelves of wine and liquor.
“Is it too early for a drink?” He laughed, but I could see it in his face – coffee might not be able to do it for him this morning, no matter how amazing our coffee was.
I stood up and shrugged. “Hey, man, it’s Detroit. That’s how some mornings go.”
The man crossed his arms and looked between the bar and the coffee menu.
I decided to take another angle.
“Not from here, I guess?”
He shook his head and crossed his arms. “Just coming through.” He looked through the front window. “My dad actually used to live here.”
“Like in Midtown?” I asked.
“Really? That’s cool, man. This place has really changed over the years.”
He grinned. “Yeah, Pops always wanted to bring me here. That’s all he ever talked about when I was growing up.”
“You made it then, huh? Your Pops here, too?” I looked out the window, expecting the old guy to come through, but the man shook his head.
“He passed away last month.”
Damn. No wonder the guy seemed out of sorts. “Sorry to hear that, man.”
He nodded his head a few times and looked out the window. “You know, it’s okay. Just got here yesterday, and I’m good. Pops would have thought it was cool, me being in Detroit and all.”
I smiled. “Hell yeah, he would have.”
The guy laughed, and I joined in with a few chuckles. The laugh seemed to dispel something in him, or maybe it was the smell of the coffee permeating the shop, or perhaps it was just two guys having a conversation in a cool spot in Detroit that bore so much history.
“I think I’ll take a coffee,” he said. “Your choice.”
I shook my head, smiling mischievously. “Oh, you’ve done it now.” I rubbed my hands together and looked around.
“You know what, let’s get you that drink and a coffee – all in one. You like rum? We got this Sexy Mexican latte that’s a bit sweet and spicy.”
The guy laughed, and I took it as a sign to keep offering suggestions. I had plenty more combinations and I’d find the right one. This guy wasn’t going to leave Great Lakes Coffee without a good coffee drink and conversation with a Detroit local. I figured that’s what his dad would have wanted.
Grab a Great Lakes Tumbler to keep your caffeinated beverages nice and warm through the cold winter mornings
They’ve also got an open bar and stay open well through the night. Roll in for a cocktail or a local brew
If you’re into vino, make sure and inquire about their Wine Club
Coffee Roast: Detroit Roasting Co.