Quiet Contradiction

If you trace Michigan Avenue westbound from downtown Detroit you will notice a continued revival of the oldest surviving neighborhood in the city–Corktown. Once represented by a majority of Irish immigrants, Corktown roughly takes its name from County Cork, Ireland, from where these newly pledged Americans made their mass emigration following the Great Famine of the 1840’s. Corktown saw its neighborhood reduced mid-20th century after land redevelopment and business relocation efforts gave way to projects such as the old Tiger Stadium (since demolished), Michigan Central Station (since abandoned) and Lodge and Fisher Freeways.

Nowadays, some of the best eateries Detroit offers have begun to twist their way through Michigan Avenue; one of the best examples is Slow’s Bar BQ, which opened in 2005 and is now anchoring what has become a food-loving corridor. Many others followed suit and
have since made this stretch of Corktown a popular destination for locals and out-of-towners alike.

The revival of this area drew enough attention that in 2011, a pair of burgeoning coffee devotees opened Astro Coffee. International experience, like at the esteemed London Monmouth Coffee Company, has given the owners ample exposure to the industry and international experience they needed to open a now highly revered coffee shop.

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Blending antique furnishings with modern fixtures, the
space inside the shop reflects the same characteristics as the neighborhood itself. The design feels deliberate, especially with the choice of materials.You will notice the mismatched wooden tables and chairs woven together with expansive new white countertops and subway tiling; wood flooring and exposed brick give heightened contrast to modern pendant lighting and sleekly polished coffee machinery.

Astro Coffee really delivers with its friendly, relaxed and down-to-earth attitude. In a modern coffee world often predicated on snobbery and intimidation, Astro Coffee then is a distinct revelation in showmanship and quality, without a whiff of arrogance.

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Knowing that the two creators had practiced their craft abroad, specifically for a time in Sydney, I opted for their flat white. For those unaware, this specialty is relatively new to the US consumer and is often the point of some controversy.

img_0229You can find heaps of sources on the proper way to prepare one and the location as to its origins. The hottest debate fixes the flat white originator in the 1980’s between Sydney, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand. I found my flat white to be controversy-free and delicious; the warmth and vibrancy of the orange colored beverage provided the perfect balance to a frigid and grey Detroit Sunday. So, if you’re in the Corktown neighborhood and wish to be delighted, stop by Astro Coffee. The approachable style and developed craft make it a genuinely fun experience.