The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - March 12, 1992- Page 3
'Fill it to the rim with pretension
Ann Arbor coffee houses overflow with atmosphere-seeking poseurs
by Karen Talaski
- -Coffee drinking
seems to be a
people major in
enough caffeine to
put Juan Valdez and his donkey into
a coma. Students spend these forma-
tive years acquiring their own style
of drinking this evil brew.
A common theme pervades Ann
Arbor coffeehouses. Most of them
reek of cigarettes, pseudo-French or
Italian charm, and are brimming
with arrogant patrons. Finding the
perfect atmosphere for enjoying an
ordinary cup of coffee is challeng-
ing. Where can ardent, yet humble,
coffee-drinkers find their own caf-
The requirements for a good cof-
fee experience are simple: a pleasant
interior, modest clientele and a
cheap, yet tasty, cup of coffee. In
order to fulfill these essentials, the
establishment must score within the
limits of the Pretentiousness Meter:
Four Black Turtlenecks: Andy
Warhol would feel uncomfortable.
Three Black Turtlenecks: Every
customer professes to have loved
Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats."
Two Black Turtlenecks: The most
popular piece of classical music
played is most widely recognized as
the theme to "The Lone Ranger."
One Black Turtleneck: The last re-
run of "CHIPS" is openly discussed
Coffee is not the only beverage
these establishments offer. They all
serve espresso and cappuccino,
java's devilish cousins. You may
forfeit the down payment on your
first house - these beverages cost
average from $1.00 to $2.85.
Cute little muffins, croissants,
tarts, and other rich desserts are
there for indulging gourmet tastes.
Their prices are outrageous, but buy-
ing them is a necessity. After drink-
ing two or more cups of coffee, you
are going to need something to cover
up your breath.
With that in mind, on to some in-
dividual evaluations ...
ESPRESSO ROYALE CAFFE:
(State Street) The interior is done in
early yuppie mortuary: track light-
ing, ceiling fans, poseur Picasso art-
work, plus black, black, and more
black. The well-groomed potted
plants and outdoor seating is remin-
isant of Paris - Texas, not France.
The young clientele is often
found discussing their overwhelming
first-semester knowledge. Studying
is an impossibility because the
lighting is dark and noisy customers
discuss deep subjects like "The Far
Side." Birkenstocks have been
sighted on patrons, so beware. Not
only are they ugly, but the wool-
sock foot odor is unbearable.
A single cup of coffee costs $.85.
Its diluted taste is geared toward the
beginning coffee drinkers who are
drawn solely to the grown-upness of
the drink, not its usual strength and
bitterness. This cafe is recom-
mended to people who crave atmos-
phere over a caffeine rush.
SCORE: a.. __ _ j
GRATZI: The lay-out resembles
the lounge area of a bowling alley.
The tables are oddly shaped and
scrunched together. Its color scheme
ranges from coffeehouse black to
neon pink. The place has the turn-
over of Grand Central Station -
definitely not a place to sit and
watch your coffee grow cold.
The clientele is older and profes-
sional - this is your father's coffee
place. Gratzi's customers take
"power" coffee breaks: scanning the
headlines as they chug down their
fifth cup of the day. Students who
venture into this adult coffee stop are
mature and self-assured, their
resumes ready at a moment's notice.
A single cup of coffee costs
$1.00. Its serving size is smaller than
most other cafes and its taste must
be acquired (like choking down fish
eggs in order to appear couth). Tree
bark tastes less bitter. This cafe is
recommended for people who con-
sider coffee drinking to be nothing
more than a speedy transaction be-
twPP.n twn rnnepntincr nnrtiPe
CAFE FINO: (in the Galleria)
This cafe's decoration strives to be
artsy: international flags, posters of
low-budget movies, and the cus-
tomary pseudo black/white marble
tables and chairs. Its view of Burger
King and the parking structure next
door, however, are constant remin-
ders of Fino's mundane location in
the heart of Ann Arbor.
The clientele is social and quiet,
pretending to read the articles in
their copies of the Metro Times.
This cafe is a primo studying loca-
tion because it's out of the way and
well lit. You bus your own table, re-
moving the annoyance of hovering
waiters or waitresses.
A single cup of coffee costs $.75.
It's extremely bitter and only a sea-
soned coffee-drinker could take it
black. But, the serving is large which
MOLLY r x b s rrIn . aiy
The rolodex and business card reflect Gratzi's professional clientele.
makes it an excellent buy. This cafe
is recommended for those who want
a place to sit, talk, and maybe drink
some coffee as well.
UNIVERSITY JAVA: Caffeine
is considered to be an addictive sub-
stance, making this outdoor espresso
bar the ultimate corner drug-dealer.
Their only decorations are a "Word
of the Day" calendar page and a
protective green awning.
The clientele are coffee junkies
who need a caffeine rush to get
through their 9 a.m. lecture and
don't have the time to sit and
schmooze in a cafe. A fast-food atti-
tude prevails: order, get your coffee,
and move on. These customers have
no time for atmosphere.
A single cup of coffee costs $.75.
The secret to Java's success is the
patented University Java card,
stamped after each purchase. By the
time you get your seventh cup free,
you're already hooked. This cafe is
recommended to people looking for
quick and easy satisfaction.
Overall, the choice is yours. If
you enjoy trendy people and places,
Ann Arbor coffeehouses are Nir-
vana. But for average people, there
are alternatives. McDonald's coffee
costs $.65 and Grimace has never
been known to quote Kafka ...
The Addams Family'sThing (now happily married) is spotted frequenting an Ann Arbor coffee house."LLY STEVENS/Daily
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