Roasting Plant, a trendy new coffee shop that originated in New York City’s Upper East Side, has just opened its first location in Ann Arbor. The new store, located at 312 S. State St., opened its doors for the first time on Sunday and has been bustling ever since.
The coffee shop puts a spin on the average coffee shop on the University of Michigan’s campus by emphasizing the actual coffee beans. Customers choose the specific bean they want, then can look up and watch the beans move through a glass tube on the ceiling before landing in the coffeemaker behind the counter.
Mo Zeitoun, store manager at Roasting Plant’s Ann Arbor location, said this device is called the “Javabot” and was created by Mike Caswell, the founder of Roasting Plant. Caswell, engineer and former Starbucks employee, created Roasting Plant to devise a way to get the freshest coffee possible. Roasting Plant gets their coffee from farmers all around the world.
“We get the beans green, and we roast them as we need them,” Zeitoun said. “So let’s say today, you decide to have a Guatemala. You know that your Guatemalan beans have been roasted within a few days. You don’t want anything that’s roasted within an hour or two, because it’s too fresh to drink. So we actually want it to sit for at least 12 hours, so everything in the Javabot has had at least a day of being roasted.”
Roasting Plant also serves freshly made iced drinks. Rather than keeping chilled coffee in a fridge or putting it over ice, Roasting Plant uses a “Chiller,” another device created by Caswell. The Chiller, like the Javabot, is on display for customers. It’s a large glass bowl with tubes inside that are sitting in cold water. The coffee is run through the tubes and is chilled in the process.
The State Street store is Roasting Plant’s first location in Ann Arbor, and Zeitoun said this has been a goal for some time.
“Ann Arbor has just been one of those locations that we’ve always really wanted to get in, and we just found this prime location across the street from the University, so it was perfect,” Zeitoun said.
Since the soft opening on Sunday, the new location has been unexpectedly busy — Zeitoun said they haven't even had time to train their new employees.
“We’ve only been open for four days, and it's insane,” Zeitoun said. “Everyone’s talking about it, and we’re already getting repeat customers coming in every day and It’s only going to get better and better.”
Zeitoun said this is because Roasting Plant is a completely different experience from nearby coffee shops like Starbucks and Espresso Royale.
“It’s totally different coffee,” Zeitoun said. “Totally different concept. And even though we beat all the coffeeshops in quality, we’re still very competitive in pricing.”
LSA senior Kyle Bailey appreciated the unique experience, and said he’d never heard of the Roasting Plant chain before.
“I like how the atmosphere mixes modern elements with more old-fashioned ones, like the exposed brick walls,” Bailey said.
The care with which the coffee is handled was also not lost on students. Art & Design sophomore Alyssa Lopatin took particular notice of this.
“I’ve been to a lot of coffee places all over the place,” Lopatin said. “And wherever I go, the best ones are always the ones that just care more.”