Last year my roommate and I
would go religiously to get coffee
after a night of studying at The
Grad. On cold winter nights we
would sit for hours and watch
people scurry past on the
sidewalk. It was during these late-
night coffee sessions that we
"bonded" and had some of our
Ann Arbor is filled with
wonderful coffee houses, where
the aroma of cappuccino hangs in
the air like an ethereal perfume.
Each place has a distinctive
ambiance, a unique raison d'etre.
Some cater to the introvert, some
to the poseur, and some to the
expect to find themselves in the
Andes mountains followed by
Juan Valdez and his burro.
"Everyone is starting to smell
like this on campus, it seems,"
said Jennifer Brown, LsA junior.
Brown, a smoker, is not bothered
by the residual smoke scent on
her clothes when she leaves the
The smoky haze which hovers
over the caf6 should diminish
when a new smoke filtration
system is installed, said
Many customers complain
that the caf6 is too noisy and
congested. As an alternative, they
may now find caffeine bliss at a
second Cafd Espresso located on
The Main Street Caf6 opened
two months ago. The store caters
to the bourgeois as well as the
intelligentsia. It serves pasta
salads and features a coffee-of-
the-day; typical flavors include
Tanzania Sumatra and Mexican
Manthri Srinath, managing
partner of Caf6 Espresso, said that
today's upscale coffee shops have
their roots in the "beatnik cafes"
of the late '50s and early '60s.
Although the popularity of these
caf6s waned in the "Me Decade",
they have enjoyed a resurgence in
recent years, mainly on college
Srinath said the focus of his
store is product and service
quality. "We're on a mission to
bring good coffee wherever we
go," he said. He added that the
caf6 is a "cultural phenomenon on
the rise. As the world gets more
hectic, people need more
ways to find leisure time." The
cafe is a great way to escape, he
Beginning next month the
Main Street Cafe Espresso will
present The Lunch Bunch Series,
a local children's theater group.
The group will perform on
Saturdays during two showtimes.
This December another
theater group called It's not Tv
will perform a serialized version
of the play "Table Manners"
from The Norman Conquests by
Srinath predicts that the
theater troupes will provide a
"nice diversion" from the norm.
"This is the kind of town that
would appreciate something like
this," he said.
Though the Main Street Cafe
Espresso has the same coffee
menu, the decor and atmosphere
contrasts with the State Street
cafd. Track lighting and modern
upward-facing lamp fixtures
bathe the store with light. Sea-
green and sky-blue walls create a
soothing, calming effect. Artwork
from the Ann Arbor Artists' Co-op
is displayed for sale in both stores.
The Main Street store is more
spacious and less noisy.
Conversations percolate easily
between the customers. As in the
State Street caf6, succulent
pastries displayed in glass cases
stare up at customers sinfully,
An Ann Arbor couple, dressed
in formal attire and drinking rich,
mahogany concoctions with
frothing cream topping, stared
wistfully into a symphony
program as they visited the caf6
one night. They had just come
from Hill Auditorium.
"It's the perfect place to end
the evening - to have a coffee
and a sweet, " they agreed.
Two young brothers across the
room sipped French sodas
through tall straws. Their parents
chuckled as their sons lifted their
heads from their sodas with thin
Just around the corner on W.
Washington St. lies the elegant
Amadeus Cafd and Patisserie.
When patrons enter Amadeus,
they are transported into 18th
Century Central Europe. In the
windows hang delicate, white
Viennese drapes. The refinished
wooden floors are bathed in the
muted light of globe lanterns.
Paul Strozynski, the owner of
Amadeus, takes pride in his
single-handed renovation of the
100-year-old edifice. Strozynski
grew up in Poland and spent one
year in Vienna before coming to
America two years ago. Schooled
in mechanical design, he
remodelled the exterior and
interior of the caf6.
A velvet, crimson-colored
drape, in European style, forms a
semi-circle around the doorway. It
is parted slightly to keep the cold
air out in winter and to retain the
cool air in the summer. An arch
motif is repeated on the outside
and along the brick walls inside.
Bright yellow gladiolas adorn the
tables. Artwork from galleries in
Poland and the Soviet Union
hang beneath circular corinthian
"It's intimate and uplifting.
It's very quiet and very European.
This is real," said customer Kay
Gould-Caskey. She and Jim
Johnson are co-owners of the
Falling Water Bookstore. They go
to Amadeus to relieve stress and
"There's absolutely no
pretense to this place. It's not
trying to be something it isn't,"
Amadeus is renowned for its
authentic Central European
pastry and coffee selections.
Pastries include fresh fruit tarts,
eclairs, chocolate turtles,
European rum cakes, lemon torts,
and other mouth-watering
wonders. Viennese Coffee, served
hot or chilled, is the specialty. It
is prepared with a tempting
combination of caramel, whipped
cream and cinnamon.
Most nights Amadeus hosts
live musicians, including violin
duos, classic guitar, Hungarian
Folk music and Russian ballads.
Strozynski said many of his guests
come from the University's
School of Music. A trip to
Amadeus is truly a cultural
Tucked away on S. Fourth
Avenue is the French Market
Caf, modelled after its world
famous namesake in New
Orleans. There you can sip cafd
au lait and feast on beignets (fried
dough with powdered sugar) and
scrumptious pecan rolls. Large,
potted plants hang from the
ceiling. A brass chandelier casts a
diffused light over the eating area.
The smell of fresh-brewed coffee
lurks in the air.
One of the most popular coffee
requests is chicory coffee, said
Richard Brown, the store's
manager and owner. Chicory
coffee is brewed with plant
extract and has a strong flavor, he
said. The cafe also serves
cappuccino and espresso.
Across the street on the corner
of S. Fourth Avenue and E.
Liberty Street is Bill's Coffee
Cup, a modest, no-frills coffee
shop. There are no specialty
coffees offered, only two choices:
brown and orange.
A U-shaped counter with worn
blue swivel stools is the center of
activity. There are 10 tables in
the back room for larger parties.
Bill's Coffee Cup, which
opened in the '50s, is a place for
"real people" said Joe Bell, an
Ann Arbor resident. "It's
convenient and it's predictable,"
Amonda Stokes, one of the
waitstaff, said that a "lot of
working people" frequent Bill's.
"They're just in for something
like home. Nothing too fancy,"
A stroll down E. Liberty, a
right on S. State Street and a left
on N. University will lead to the
Ann Arbor classic, Drake's
Drake's opened in 1929 and
the basic structure has remained
exactly the same, said Jo
Ouwehand, the store manager.
"One thing I hear a lot is that
people feel like they are in a time o
warp. It is old looking without U
being pretentious because it's all
real," she said.
The walls of Drake's are
papered with Michigan
memorabilia. Customers can take a
mini-tour of the history of the
University by reading the
yellowing newspaper clippings,
playbills, black and white photos
and sports announcements.
A guest list attests to the
popularity of the shop. Some guest
names include Helen Hayes, Mr.
Smucker of Smucker's jellies and
jams and All-American Michigan
football star, Tom Harmon.
Patron Warren Kaericher, a
Salem township resident, likes
Drake's because of the many
different kinds of tea and the "odd
Drake's has retained its jet-
black tin ceiling and pea-green
wooden booths. It is dimly lit and
nostalgia peers at customers from
every angle, from the 1930
refrigerator to the shelves upon
shelves of candy jars. There are six
different kinds of chocolate
almonds and 20 varieties of
Those who go to Drake's are
bound to meet "tons of weird, neat
people" said Ouwehand.
Kaericher frowns on the
expanding coffee shop craze. He
said State and Main Street has
changed drastically since he was
last in Ann Arbor seven years ago.
"The town is becoming slowly
more upscale. There's so much of
the same stuff," he said.
Cut through the Diag and
follow S. University to Church
Street to find the chic, new hot
spot, Amer's Mediterranean Deli.
Amer's theme focuses on
"Capturing the true flavor of the
Mediterranean with selections
from the finest and richest Italian
coffees, exotic Middle Eastern and
kosher style sandwiches, to
delicate French pastries."
The owner, Amer Bathish,
graduated from the University in
1987 with a degree in electrical
engineering. He has never had a
course in business or design. Yet,
at age 25, he owns two
businesses. His second deli is in
Flint. The Church Street deli
opened the day before Art Fair
Bathish has traveled world-
wide. He has imbued his deli
with a European flair. "When
you walk in here you see
tradition and modern both. I
want a smart-looking place," he
said. Amer's boasts a 19 and one-
half hour workday.
Tyler Oliver, tsA senior,
spends up to five hours in
Amer's each week. Recently,
Oliver took a trip to Italy and
became addicted to strong
coffee. Of Amer's he said, "This
is the closest thing I could get to
Bathish said he has brought
together the "highest quality in
everything." Such excellence is
reflected in the Godiva pastry
display cases, the elaborate red
oak pillars on the facade and
French door and the tile floor.
A sophisticated exhaust
system, coupled with 14-foot-
high ceilings and four ceiling
fans, eliminates all traces of
smoke. "You're not gonna come
out of this place smelling like
smoke," Bathish said.
Amer's coffee selection is
exhaustive. Four gourmet
coffees are offered daily, in
addition to the usual cappuccino,
espresso, caf6 con leche and
other fine brews. The pastries
are also exquisite and vary daily.
You can even get homentaghen, an
indigenous Middle Eastern
Which cafe appeals the most
to me? Amadeus- for its
serenity and sophistication.
Where should you go? It
depends. What's your raison
d'etre? Think about it... but only
over a cappuccino.
. , r.r
classic romantic. (Like me).
How do you decide where to
go for that perfect blend of mood
and palate pleasers? I went to
almost every coffee shop in town
to answer this question. I wanted
to know what contributed to the
myths and stereotypes of each
place. What is their allure? I
wondered. This is what I found.
"The people themselves
create what we have here. We
provide the background," said
Lisa Lancaster, general manager
for Cafe Espresso Royale on S.
Cafe Espresso Royale opened
two years ago and has become one
of the most talked-about coffee
shops in town. In fact, the cafd is
rarely called by its proper name.
It has been nicknamed Cafd
Pretentious, Cafd Intellectuoso,
Caf6 Kafka, Cafd Ashtray, Cafd
Black Turtleneck, Caf6
Existential, Caf6 Depresso, just to
name a few. Lancaster is not
bothered by the store's
pseudonyms. "It means you're
popular!" she smiled.
For die-hard java junkies or
for those who just want to fill it to
the rim one time, "getting coffee"
in Ann Arbor satisfies different
Michael Rubel, LsA junior,
spends up to two hours each day
in Cafd Espresso. Rubel, an
English and Philosophy major,
enjoys reading Madame Bovary
and Sartre over a cup of tea or
coke. "Do you come here more
than anywhere else ?" I asked
"I come to Cafd Espresso more
than I have really good sex,"
Cafe Espresso's store front, a
large window, is ideal for people-
watching. Inside, green plants
line ceiling-high wall-to-wall
mirrors, ideal for self-watching.
Caf6 Espresso's coffee scent is
so strong that patrons might
WEEKEND October 5, 1990