There's coffee, and then there's coffee. The former is typically cheap and exists to get us through the day, while the latter is responsible for swoons and weakened knees at the simple utterance of "Blue Bottle" or "Intelligentsia." The small, passionate and tightly knit group of self-proclaimed coffee nerds behind newly opened Comet Coffee (5708 Oakland Avenue; 734-222-0579) live and breathe for the seductive beverage in its finest forms.
Co-owner Mark Attwood is visibly thrilled to see his dream cafe taking shape. He makes cup after cup, pausing now and again to point out the richness of color in an espresso shot's crema or the bubbles that form at the top of a Fretta V60 filter while iced coffee brews. Behind him, the small staff buzzes with nervous energy and, presumably, caffeine. Pastry chef Stephanie Fischer proudly leads a procession of baked goods, sampling a blueberry muffin that's crisp on top and packed with fresh berries, a cheese scone that takes after a homemade biscuit, flaking off in soft, fluffy layers and a rich gooey-butter cookie sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.
After a sip of Comet's flash-brewed iced coffee, a taste of its espresso and a slurp of a mocha latte, it's easy to see why the staff's so excited about this new venture. Yes, the elevating effects of the cafe's flagship beverage likely play a part, but the quality of product and the passion for perfection found at Comet Coffee warrant causing a stir.
It begins with the beans: Attwood and shop manager Zach Althaus ship beans in from celebrated roasters including Chicago's Intelligentsia and shop around for quality local brands such as Kaldi's. Each cup of coffee, each shot of espresso begins with precisely weighed, freshly ground beans meeting the ideal measure of water to complement the particular roast. The coffee is brewed one cup at a time, the shots are timed meticulously, resulting in something that one must taste to truly appreciate. And when one does, the reaction is visceral and, more often than not, audible.
Why, you might ask, put this much effort in when Mr. Coffee can brew an entire pot in the same amount of time? "There's a lot of science involved," shop manager Hannah Atkinson explains. "Making a good cup of coffee takes time."