If you’ve read anything about the city of Detroit in the last decade you probably know it fell on some pretty hard times. We’ll leave the commentary on the rise and fall of Detroit to economists and urban planners. We, on the other hand, are happy to report there are some pretty great places to get a cup of coffee in Motown. One of those places is Astro Coffee.
Astro Coffee is located in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood. Michigan Avenue was ominously empty on the Sunday morning I visited, but inside Astro was bustling with life. It’s a small if not cozy café, with just enough seating to make sure you don’t feel rushed. I felt guilty taking up a whole table by my lonesome, so I snagged a newly-vacated seat at the end of bar. As I waited for my coffee I watched as the baristas greeted their customers by name, comfortably cranking out drinks while making small talk during the morning rush.
I kicked things off with a shot of espresso, which happened to be the Ethiopia Yukro from Heart Coffee Roasters. Astro uses a revolving cast of different roasters, all of which I noted are known for being especially focused on quality. I found Astro’s execution to be no less precise. My shot was everything I would expect of a washed Ethiopia espresso: berry, floral, complex. It’s the sort of espresso I would be happy to drink every day.
Next I dug into a pour-over of Heart’s Kenya Kiangoi which I paired with a slice of the house-made gluten-free cake. I’m a big fan of cafés taking names with orders, but I was surprised to find Astro writes the customer’s name on the mug with a dry-erase marker. Armed with the reassurance I was indeed drinking my coffee, I rather eagerly began slurping my too-hot-to-drink coffee. As it cooled I discovered a delightfully tart and tangy acidity with none of the sourness of under-extraction. In my experience, most cafés would be better off sticking to autodrip, but Astro reminded me it’s possible pull off a high volume manually brewed coffee program.
Although the future of American manufacturing is still uncertain, as long as there are coffee shops like Astro Coffee, Detroit’s future looks bright to us. Judging by the lively Sunday morning crowd that filled the café, we’re not the only ones who feel that way.