Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth/MJ


According to the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company website, the Midtown building the Detroit coffeehouse occupies stood vacant for two decades before the business moved over and renovated the space with wood from demolished Hamtramck homes and local art. Upon entry into the shop, it’s no doubt that time and thought have went into creating an inviting and quaint place to enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of beer or wine in the city.

Situated on Woodward, nearly steps from popular entertainment venues in Midtown, including the Garden Theater and the Majestic, Great Lakes first caught my attention only because I was looking for something to keep me warm before shows in the winter months; I was in and out with a hot chocolate without giving much thought or focus on the atmosphere. Plus, that drink was downed so quickly in an attempt to erase the effects of waiting in the cold that I can’t even recall if it was worthy of a review.

Those previous visits, the place was busy, packed. Last month, I returned with a friend and the time to take in the coffee shop for all that it was on a Saturday evening that surprisingly wasn’t as busy as I assumed it would be from past experiences. Great Lakes offers the option to order to go or sit down and be served. Patrons have several seating choices, including high top tables and long wooden tables and benches that resemble the tables of a school lunchroom, this type of seating inadvertently bringing together people who know and do not know each other alike. Surrounded by the wood and brick walls of the coffeehouse, it’s a cozy feeling. In addition, the artwork displayed in the shop is changed monthly, allowing local artists to showcase their work, bringing in a multitude of people for a wine night each month that introduces the new art. Pair that feeling emitting from the walls with a hot drink and it becomes the perfect place to spend a cold winter night (or day).

Usually at a coffee shop, I stick with a chai latte but I decided to step away from my typical drink preference and try something I can’t have at Starbucks or Biggby. So, I ordered the Sexy Mexican, an espresso that combines coffee with chocolate and cayenne pepper for a drink that isn’t only different, but delicious. It was the perfect mix of sweet and spicy and while the cup it came in appeared small, was just the right amount. Though I only have tried that drink, my friend and other friends who have visited suggest that the Lavender Latte is a must­ try.

While more coffee shops are popping up in Detroit, I recommend giving The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company a try, though be mindful that if events such as concerts are taking place at the nearby show venues, the location is probably going to be quite busy, but the wait is worth it.

Great Lakes is located at 3965 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201.