By Talia Belowich
I would like to preface this blog post by saying that I was a former employee at one of these coffee shops (bonus points if you can figure out which one), but no employment status or lack there-of will affect my rankings. Also, due to my daily orders of “large iced oat milk latte” or “medium cappuccino with oat milk” I believe I am well-qualified to write this.
Most college kids eat, sleep and breathe coffee, and Ann Arbor has no shortage of supply. However, there is simply no way that every Starbucks, Sweetwaters, and local coffee joint in this town can satisfy the cravings of a coffee-deprived undergrad in every social and study situation. Some students need a quick coffee on the way to class, something to keep them awake during their three-hour seminar. Others are looking for a coffee-chat setting, a room that will manifest strong interview skills and plentiful club acceptances. Some want to bunker down and study– a cafe to sit in unbothered. Personally, my requirements come in the form of seating, outlets, and snacks.
A quick note to the shops on my list: As a college-town coffee shop, outlets and seating are your main attractions. Snacks don’t hurt though. If your coffee shop is ranked lower than you expected, it’s probably not because your workers aren’t friendly enough or your vanilla syrup isn’t authentic. It’s because for every hundred students that walk through the door every day, only three of them can get a table. Thank you for all that you do.
So, without further ado, here is my 2023 local coffee shop ranking for Ann Arbor, Michigan:
10. The Drip House ★☆☆☆☆
In last place, we have The Drip House. This coffee shop is not within walking distance, but they have a parking lot, so that compensates. The smoothies are too liquidy and sugary (because, of course, I am a smoothie connoisseur) and their OG Avocado toast is just meh.
Best for: a driving-distance cafe
Worst for: anything other than coffee
9. M-36 Coffee Roasters ★☆☆☆☆
M-36 is highly popular, and I don’t know why. The wifi is infamously shaky, and the only good food or drink item on the menu is their lemonade, which is homemade and absolutely delicious. M36 has more seating than most other shops on the list, but still not enough to accommodate their large fanbase.
Best for: coffee-chats, and for running into everyone you know
Worst for: drinking a latte
8. Ann Arbor Coffee Roaster ★★☆☆☆
The coffee is decent but absurdly expensive. My real issue with this coffee shop is their lack of outlets! Unless I just can’t find them, I don’t recall ever seeing an outlet in that place. Also, I would not recommend the coconut latte. They have the most outlandish coffee flavors (Whisky latte? Really?) and they simply don’t work.
Best for: grabbing coffee on the way to class (they’re on Snackpass)
Worst for: trying a new coffee flavor
7. Umma Cafe ★★★☆☆
Every Monday, after my lecture in the Umma auditorium, I get a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin from the Umma cafe. Average seating space, average coffee, all-around deserving of the middle of the list.
Best for: an after-class muffin
Worst for: staying away from STAMPS students
6. Comet Coffee ★★★☆☆
Next, we have the most forgotten cafe: Comet Coffee. Located deep in the Nichols Arcade, Comet Coffee has a solid two seats in the whole entire room. However, the coffee and snacks are not to be overlooked.
Best for: a flaky croissant
Worst for: maintaining personal space
5. Lab cafe ★★★★☆
If you’re gluten free, Lab Cafe is the place for you. They have great GF snack bars year-round, and caramel apple flavored coffee in the fall. These will have to be taken to go however, because there is hardly any indoor seating.
Best for: gluten free options
Worst for: getting something basic
4. Cahoots cafe ★★★★☆
Cahoots is hands-down the cutest coffee shop in Ann Arbor. The plant decor and nature themes are perfect for an instagram story. The coffee is just fine, but if you’re looking for an aesthetic and comfortable coffee shop, this is the place.
Best for: taking a picture with a plant
Worst for: going somewhere close
3. Vertex ★★★★☆
I’m not allowed to hate on Vertex because my roommate practically lives there. I appreciate the nature ambiance and all of the pride paraphernalia. But why are the coffees so small?! My roommate is Irish and claims Vertex serves the only appropriately sized coffee in Ann Arbor. I would have to disagree. Also, it’s always super hot there, but they do have fancy water so I can’t complain.
Best for: becoming a known-by-name regular
Worst for: wearing a jacket indoors
2. Misfit Society Coffee Club ★★★★★
Who knew a brand-new coffee shop could make it so high up on the list?! MSCC is a baby in the Ann Arbor community, and they have blessed us with THE most comfortable seat cushions in all of AA. I tried their iced oat milk latte, and it was absolutely fabulous.
Best for: going somewhere new
Worst for: no critiques yet
1. Bitty and Beaus ★★★★★
Bitty and Beaus is my new favorite Ann Arbor coffee shop. The vibes in this coffee shop are so happy and welcoming. They also employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, so going here is a great way to combat ableism and promote inclusivity while getting your daily dose of caffeine. I ordered their lemon cranberry muffin and it was absolutely perfect. If you have an extra few minutes to go somewhere further than State Street, I highly recommend going to Bitty and Beaus.
PS: Happy World Down Syndrome Day!
Now that you’ve soaked up the recs of a seasoned coffee drinker, it’s time for you to venture out into the streets of Ann Arbor and try a sip for yourself.