We were the first customers when Comet Coffee opened last Saturday morning at 8:00am. Jim and Erin were fiddling with the espresso machine and re-arranging the pastries until we came in. The credit card machine was dysfunctional, but that was the only thing out of order during our visit. This opening with the promise of truly fine coffee has been a much anticipated event at our house.
They've done a great job with making the small space feel bright and airy. I love that Comet is in Nickel's Arcade - still one of the best places in Ann Arbor. Comet has the original tiny white hexagonal tiles on the floor, but everything else appears to be new, sleek, and retro-modern.
The menu is brief. Coffee. Pastries. Incidentals. I asked Jim where they're getting the pastries - from the new Pastry Peddler on Packard. Muffins, scones, and pecan rolls all looked good and we got to try one of the yummy croissants. I still love croissants (really everything) from the Croissant Shop the best, but these croissants were entirely respectable - crisp and buttery and wonderful with coffee.
B. was reminding me that the previous year had been a pretty great year for us in coffee adventures: several espresso shots pulled for us at Slow Food Nation by the World Barista Champion; visits to Blue Bottle and Ritual Roasters (where I had my first Clover coffee) in San Francisco; several trips to Intelligentsia in Chicago; Tim Wendleboe's in Oslo; great coffee class at the Ugly Mug in Ypsilanti. We've certainly put in some time educating our coffee palates. I think I can now tell an Ethiopian Yrgachaffe from a Columbian Supremo.
So, how's the coffee at Comet? In a word - fantastic! I've started to prefer the macchiato as my coffee drink of choice. I still like the smooth creaminess of coffee drinks with milk. But when you're drinking good coffee, the macchiato has less milk than a cap (or latte - jeez, that's so 2005) and you can taste a lot more of the subtle coffee flavors (bright, fruity, roasty, nutty, for example). And Comet's macchiato was probably the richest, roundest, tastiest cup I've had this year. Really mouth-filling in the best possible way. I want some more. Definitely a worthy contender with anything I had at any of those other coffee meccas.
With coffee, as with food, you can taste the love. It tastes different when somebody cares about it. I don't know why, I don't know how, but it does. It's clear that Jim is approaching this coffee venture as an artisan - using the highest quality ingredients, the best possible tools and an extreme level of skill, curiosity and appreciation.
It remains to be seen if that level of care (I think I saw him toss out at least 2 shots before I got my macchiato) can also make business sense. I'm guessing we'll be going to Comet as often as possible while it takes its initial steps into the cutthroat (and mostly uncaring) world of coffeeshops here in A2town. What I do know is that Comet's opening has taken our local coffee scene into an entirely new (and by my reckoning, better) league.
It's encouraging that I know several people who are even more excited about this than I am.
Monday - Friday: 7am - 8pm
Saturday: 8am - 8pm
Sunday: 9am - 8pm
PS: Comet is now selling Maite's Alfajores Artesnales!
PPS: According to Jim, they chose the milk they use after a taste-test comparing four locally produced milks: Calder, Guernsey, Country Dairy, and one other. Winner: Guernsey.
From Jim's Comet Coffee Flickr Page:
"I am opening a coffee shop in Ann Arbor's historic Nickels Arcade. What's in store?