The aroma of freshly roasted coffee wafts from Comet Coffee — filling the corridor of Nickels Arcade and beckoning passersby into the specialty coffee shop.
After spending more than 20 years as a barista, Comet Coffee owner Jim Saborio, a Saline, Mich. native, opened the small, modern-styled store three years ago to share his love of coffee.
“I’ve always really enjoyed working with coffee … I wanted to share my experiences with coffee with other people,” Saborio said. “I tried to create an environment … that enables baristas to really flourish and enjoy the craft.”
Saborio, who frequented Nickels Arcade as a teenager, said Comet Coffee’s location near the Diag is an asset to his business and “brings in an interesting mix of people.”
“I love the arcade,” he said, “It’s a real landmark for Ann Arbor, (and) it doesn’t seem to lose its charm. It’s such a great place to be.”
Comet Coffee’s “coffee-focused” mentality sets the shop apart from competitors, Saborio said.
“All our selections are based on taste and quality of the coffee,” he said.
While Saborio said he prefers Costa Rican coffees, the most popular drinks at his café include cappuccinos and espresso.
Though Comet Coffee is not a Fair Trade Certified organization, Saborio said he believes in the ethics of coffee so his café only buys from roasters committed to treating farmers fairly.
“We have focused on finding roasters that tie their own success to the success of the farmers,” Saborio said. “I really want to deal with the roasters who are focused on quality.”
Saborio said this can sometimes be difficult to attain because the Fair Trade certification sets high standards — like forming cooperatives — for farmers. However, he said finding roasters who are committed to assisting farmers is necessary since they often produce higher quality coffee.
Saborio said Ann Arbor is the perfect city for Comet Coffee, and many of his regular customers are University students and faculty.
“It’s a lot of graduate students (and) professors — not a lot of younger students, but some,” he said. “We’re very closely tied to the University.”
Comet Coffee does not currently have plans to expand to other locations, and Saborio said he is satisfied with the café’s success so far.
“It’s pretty much like I pictured it would be when I was planning this place,” Saborio said.