Brews Through: RoosRoast

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 5:44pm

Roos Roast Coffee

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Max Kuang/Daily


If I have one hope for 2018 — besides finishing school, graduating, figuring out life and finding my bigger purpose in this world — it’s to drink better coffee than I did last year.

Since I am coming to the final pages of this chapter of my college career, it would make sense for me to try “adulting” in all corners of my life. This includes the music I listen to, the things I eat, the things I say, the books I read, but also, the caffeine I drink. Which means putting away the Starbucks app and prioritizing quality over convenience.

There are many hidden gems in Ann Arbor. Like the fairy doors, there are some things you just don’t know until you do — and then, your life is changed forever because you can’t unsee or untaste pure greatness. RoosRoast isn’t really a secret, being voted the second best coffee shop in all of Michigan and sold in every nice grocery store in town, but it has an ambiance that is unlike any other cafe.

From the moment you walk into the oddly angled door, there’s something different. It smells like rich coffee beans, but so do most coffee shops. It’s something about the way the bright yellow wall paint lights up the room — who would have thought bright yellow paint could look something other than ugly? It actually lights up the entire interior and makes me smile from the inside.

I haven’t tried all of their roasts or teas yet, but it’s on my to-do list. The chai bomb is one of my favorite drinks so far. It’s something like a dirty chai without artificial sweetener. Sometimes I crave it so much, I’ll walk across campus to get one for the afternoon. Of course, the drip brews and espresso drinks are delicious. The “Bad Ass Women Blend” has this verticality to the flavor with fruity undertones; I sound like a snob, but even my amateur tongue can taste the depth. Tea drinkers, the turmeric ginger tea will soothe your anxiety and stress.

When you sit at their bar or at one of their tables, you start to forget you’re in Ann Arbor. It feels like Portland or Brooklyn or somewhere I’d like to be a freelance writer working on a new book — the romanticized part of the life of an artist I imagine, or take away from indie films. The colorful paintings, the sign “Welcome Badass Women,” the floating lobster, the hand-drawn logos. It’s buzzing with conversation and new ideas.

Beanies and beards and tie-dye shirts; it’s quirky like that. The names of the coffee beans and coffee bag covers are also creations of John Roos, the founder and owner. A native of Ann Arbor, Roos is an entrepreneur and artist. People and places from his life inspire his coffee roasts: Rich French Neighbor, A-A Cowboy, Portland in the 90s.

It has this personal, welcoming vibe. I hate the word “vibe,” it’s out of character for me. But honestly, it’s the only way I can describe it. Or by saying, “Go to RoosRoast” and you’ll get it.

I find myself getting annoyed at coffee shops on campus when all I overhear is the same break-up stories over and over. Inevitably, going to coffee chains seem to attract people of similar demographics, similar conversations and less diversity of thought — it becomes redundant to the dozens of coffee shops within a certain walking radius of campus. I get disappointed when people go to coffee shops without ordering a drink and taking tablespace. From what I can tell at RoosRoast, though, people are here for the experience. They come for the coffee, for the food, for the atmosphere. And stay for the taste, the energy, the vibe — at least, I know I do. It’s one of the coffee shops with the largest diversity of age, gender, color and everything in between.

Sure, the music may be too distracting if you are a regular library-goer or want to read in silence. I usually compartmentalize my work and choose where I study accordingly. I have trouble thinking about cell biology when I’m surrounded by artists and music and talk about renewable energies in downtown Detroit. But when I write or choreograph or compose, I like being in stimulating environments. It helps to be surrounded by other creative energies, to feel like you’re not pushing boundaries and imagining the unimaginable alone — it’s non-judgmental and tastes like possibility.

The baristas and staff are friendly, and it would make sense that they attract a similar crowd. I feel like it takes a certain type of person to say, “I want the Lobster Butter Love.”

If your New Year’s resolution had something to do with better coffee, here’s a good place start.

On their website, they write: “We are the home of Lobster Butter Love and highly caffeinated, freaky people who love coffee. You could call us drug dealers, but we deal in good vibes, and yes, caffeine. It's not just a business, it's a lifestyle. We roast coffee, we sell coffee, we make art.”