As a coffee snob-in-the-making, I have recently found myself dissatisfied with the burnt and/or watery taste of the local coffee chains in town. Starbucks is so basic, Espresso Royale is just plain disgusting…I need something with a little more originality and flavor.
Glassbox used to be my go-to spot for a really good cup of coffee and a motivating “I plan to create my own start up” vibe, but as you may have heard, they shadily went out of business recently, without warning, and there is currently no plan to reopen. That’s what caused me to venture out and find a new spot to spend my time and Lab has certainly filled the void and then some.
Located on E. Liberty, next to Tomukun Noodle Bar, Lab is a medium-sized coffee and tea shop with a modern feel–think plain white walls with a few random thrift-shoppy decorations and minimalistic tables coupled with an odd assortment of old chairs that don’t match. Their menu has lots of different coffee and tea options, as well as an eclectic mix of pastries, frozen yogurt and beer (How random, right?).
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Rather than having a boring house brew like most coffee establishments, Lab has about three special blends that change daily. As I write this I am sipping on one of today’s selections that has flavoring of “notes of dark chocolate, hazelnut and bits of dried fruits”. I’m not even slightly questioning whether or not this size small is worth every cent of the $2.75 I paid for it. Hey, it’s pricey, but it’s no different than paying more for a really nice bottle of wine instead of Franzia. If you can appreciate the difference in taste, it is worth it. Plus, here at Lab they actually serve you your drink in a mug rather than a to-go paper cup, which I swear makes it taste better. (Note, they have paper cups too, if you need it to go, obv.)
Some other popular/fancier menu items are the lavender honey latte and brown sugar and sea salt latte (their best seller), in addition to all the classics like cappuccinos and chai tea. They often have my favorite thing ever, French macarons, and my friend (Rachel Berlin) says the peach black tea frozen yogurt “changed her life”. The also have amazing looking brownies, cookies, cakes, croissants and other pastries.
One of my favorite things about Lab is its hipster vibe. Just last week I ran into one of the baristas out on a Saturday at Raven Club (a low key bar/restaurant near Main St) and we recognized each other and got into quite the deep discussion about George Orwell novels and dystopian literature. If that’s not highbrow, I don’t know what is.
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Other times I see guys with man buns talking about photography or international students being interesting international students. All in all, the place inspires creativity and an urge to listen to Bon Iver. I love it.
I highly recommend you check this spot out next time you’re in the neighborhood and splurge for the classiest cup of coffee you’ll have in Ann Arbor.
Address: 505 East Liberty St, #300, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 8 am-11 pm; Sat: 10 am-11 pm; Sun: 12 pm-6 pm