It’s not so surprising that the pale Michigander seeks sunshine and warmth from the dead cold. When winter lasts nine months of the year, we forget what it feels like to wear shorts and have sunscreen slathered in splotches on your face. I went to get some blood work done recently and it turns out I am suffering from a dangerous Vitamin D deficiency.
My best friend and I decided to make the trip down south to Miami. Almost everyone I’ve met in college evidently had the same idea. It’s my last break as an undergrad and I wanted to get some Vitamin D without eating triple-dose gummies twice a day.
We spent our mornings by the pool getting tan, feeling those pyrimidine dimers in our DNA, hoping we managed just enough sunscreen to avoid melanoma, but not too much to look un-ill for once. We spent our afternoons attempting to do homework, eating good food and drinking good coffee.
I accidentally bought a water bottle for 17 dollars at the resort. My face seeing the receipt was akin to “The Scream.” We decided to get our coffee and snacks elsewhere for both quality and sanity.
Panther Coffee is a Miami-based coffee roaster, and a must-go if you’re in the neighborhood. They have five stores, but also sell their coffee beans elsewhere. We spent time at the Sunset Harbour location on Purdy Avenue, a hip getaway from the resort-tourist scene.
It’s a cozy set-up. The floor-to-ceiling windows let enough light into the cafe, though the hanging lights give off a nice, tinted ambiance. The whole place has an industrial feeling to it: the metal tables, large nuts and bolts screwed into the counters, exposed light bulbs, creamy gray concrete lining the walls. The customers match the mood, like an interior designer placed them there. Young businessmen in trendy suits, a fitness couple cooling off after a run, the plush golden retriever sitting by his owner, who’s wearing dark sunglasses, a woman grabbing a cold brew in her full-denim outfit — it’s what I think of when I imagine “trendy.”
I was pleasantly surprised with the price, even after spending near 20 dollars on a small Fiji water. It was still early when I sat down at Panther, so I got my morning regular: black Americano with their signature ham and cheese croissant. I spent less, enjoyed more — not that it’s that hard to find a more reasonably priced cafe in Miami.
Panther didn’t get itself to where it is just for reasonable prices. The coffee menu is dangerous for any caffeine lover, but they carry a generous selection of teas as well. The croissants are twice the size of my palm and had I stayed in Miami for longer, I would’ve made my way through the entire menu.
After spending five days in Miami, my friend and I flew back to Detroit. Correction: we tried.
We had a layover in LaGuardia before landing in Detroit on Thursday night. We planned a solid four days in Ann Arbor to enjoy some peace and quiet before the last sprint of the semester begins. The snowstorm in Detroit and then the storm in New York City threw a wrench in our plans.
I didn’t know what a “Nor’easter” was until the day my flight was canceled. Turns out it’s a specific type of storm where masses of cyclonic air are pushed counterclockwise and become pretty deadly. At this point, the Nor’easter that hit this weekend killed eight people on the East Coast. Our flight was canceled twice, pushing us back one day.
We decided to make a day out of our 24 hours in New York City, walking through a hailing Nor’easter with large suitcases and nothing but bikinis and sandals. We landed in another coffee shop where we met up with some old friends.
Dr. Smood is a healthy cafe. It was around the corner from the hotel we booked for the night (PSA: airlines don’t cover any hotels for weather-related cancellations). We got lucky, honestly. Dr. Smood is maybe trendier than Panther in certain ways, though they call themselves a “boutique” and are more of a hangout than a coffee place. They serve good coffee, but more emphasis on cold-pressed juices and organic shots — green algae, ginger, turmeric, you name it.
The boutique eatery is a getaway. The stone walls and black interior are sexy. They have wooden countertops for laptop usage and fancy couches to grab coffee with a colleague. Despite the mildly intimidating atmosphere, the baristas are kind.
It’s the place where I hang out in my hypothetical NYC life, along with my hypothetical job, my hypothetical wardrobe and my hypothetical high-rise overlooking Central Park.
At this point, the Nor’easter is building. Our flights are canceled for a third, then fourth, then fifth time. Our initial Thursday flight from New York to Detroit gets pushed to Sunday, so we are stuck in our layover destination for four days — four days. Sure, New York is the best city to get stuck in, but mind you, I have five bikinis, Birkenstocks and one pair of ripped jeans. My sunburn is starting to peel on my back and my body is confused with the 50-degree drop in temperature.
It’s our third day in New York City now. I am writing my column from another trendy, plush, slick coffee shop. Part of me wonders if the universe just wanted me to coffee shop hop my last spring break. The world somehow knew how I wanted to spend my break, it sensed my guilt by the pool not writing my thesis, not studying for exams, not preparing for the future.
So, I’m here in New York City debating if I should actually be productive touring grad schools, apartment-seeking, bracing for my life after graduation.
For now though, my coffee gives me comfort. The sustainable, plant-based, delicious cafe, by Chloe, has a few locations in Europe, in NYC, in LA, and some other fancy locales. I splurge at maybe the best location adjacent to the Rockefeller Center.
I don’t know what I expected from my last spring break, but it definitely wasn’t this. I’m not complaining, I feel nourished from skin to stomach to soul. It’s been a fulfilling time away from school. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s to keep taking strolls and opening doors to more coffee. Chasing the scent of coffee, no matter what city, seems to be the best way of traveling.