Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#WellnessWednesday: Goji Berry Rolled Oats

Today on #WellnessWednesday: Goji Berry Oats with Sarah W. (@oatsandwoes)

Recipe: Rolled oats made with vanilla almond milk, topped with coconut, blueberries, raspberries, Justin's almond butter and Navitas Naturals goji berries.

Goji berries are the most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth, containing all essential amino acids, the highest protein content of any fruit and 15 X the iron of spinach."


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Brand History: Hunter Boots

Founded: 1856
Country of Origin: Scotland
Famous for: The Wellington Boot

    Originally founded under the name of the North British Rubber Company in 1856, the company transformed what was once (and arguably still is) a practical work boot into a timeless fashion piece.

    The feature that really set these boots apart at the time was the use of vulcanization – a chemical process where sulfur is added to natural rubber to add superior protection from the elements and longevity to the material. The developers of this process had good timing, as vulcanized boots became the staple for the British army in World War I where over one million pairs of various styles (see below) were supplied to the soldiers in flooded trenches and swampy habitats. A similar trend was seen throughout the period of World War II.

    So, did everyone just want to look like the soldiers? How did a work boot become an icon for men, women, and children alike all the way into the 21st century? After WWI and WWII, the boots sought out a new audience – labor workers. Now that they were seen more on the city streets and areas more accessible than a battle field, people began to notice their implications as a piece of practical and comfortable rain gear.

    Then, in 1956, the Wellington Boot was born; a below-the-knee, clean cut boot that continues to be hand made from 28 separate parts. Even Hunter itself admits that the "Original" Boot had a slow start. The style was first picked up by upper class individuals dwelling in the countryside areas in the UK; yet, slowly but surely, the boots became exponentially more popular and are now distributed in over 30 countries worldwide.

    As their market expanded, so did their range of styles. The tall and short Original Boot can be spotted by a mile away by most – especially those familiar with Ann Arbor’s post-winter apocalypse snow melt in the spring. They are both great styles, but if you’re looking for something a little different, Hunter now produces boots and shoes with many different finishes, buckle placements, heel heights, thicknesses, and more. In 2009, Hunter even partnered with Jimmy Choo, another famous shoe designer, to make a limited edition black Wellington Boot.

    Interesting product history aside, Hunter boots boil down to being a dependable and comfortable raingear staple. My two pair of Original Tall boots have been used from work at a farm with horses to walking around downtown Chicago with no need to pause in consideration of sore feet or water leakage. 

    And if my recommendation isn’t enough, Hunter was awarded a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 1986, for their exceptional work. You can’t say no to royalty.

~Liz L. -Women's Tech


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion

Friday, September 25, 2015

Denim. pt I: The Fit.


    Denim is as American as apple pie and, well, blue jeans. Jeans are inseparable from the mythos of the rugged modern man, from James Dean to “Born to Run”. The U.S. denim market accounts for nearly $20b of yearly sales with no signs of slowing down. If you live north of the tropics, there’s a good chance you own denim in some form – if you live in Michigan, there’s a good chance you’re reading this in your favorite pair right now.

    Jeans are a cultural phenomenon close to 200 years in the making. It’s no surprise that not every pair sold over those two long centuries is created equal: even Levi’s 501 “Original” has gone through numerous era-specific modifications and is now available in dozens of washes. Riveted cotton denim trousers are as varied as they are prolific, and if you want to up your style game, you’ll need to know a thing or two past “I like the blue ones”. 

(photo source:

    The following series will break down everything you’ve ever wanted to know about jeans (fits, washes, fabrics, terms, brands). Every two weeks, we'll dive deep into all things jeans in order to help you find your new favorite pair – or at least understand why you love the ones you already have. Sound good? We're glad you're here. Welcome to Denim.


PART I: The Fit.

    A pair of jeans consists of two distinct components (the top block and the legs) whose lengths and tapers vary to create the dozens of fits available on the market. The top block refers to the area from the top opening to the bottom of the pelvis. The legs are, well, everything else. These two components, when stitched together, make up every pair of jeans ever produced. 
   Consider the following four fits your best friends - no matter what you wear (or where you shop), they'll be there and you'll love 'em for it.

Slim fit.
Slim fit jeans are tapered throughout the leg. The top block will fit tight, and the legs will taper all the way through to a relatively-tight leg opening at the bottom. Slim fit jeans are not the “skinny jeans” of mall stores past – when sized correctly, there is ample room to move. Slim jeans just have the least excess fabric (read: less volume between your jeans and your skin, but not skin-tight) around your leg and therefore create a more flattering silhouette, regardless of body type.

Straight Fit.
Straight fit jeans are best described as rulers: take the outside and inside of your hips, draw a line straight down, and straight fit jeans will follow. The top block is usually unstructured (but not relaxed), and the legs have little to no taper with a leg opening ~1.5-2” wider than slim fit jeans. Straight fit jeans are the top of the bell curve: they look pretty darn good on everyone.

Tapered Fit.
Tapered fit jeans combine the top block of straight fit jeans with the tapered legs of the slim fit. The transition between the two is far from instantaneous – the taper begins gradually, but ends in a leg opening of equivalent width to the slims. Tapered fit jeans are the best option for athletically-built guys who still like the clean lines and silhouette of the slim fit, but who have legs too large for slim. If the phrase “3 plate squats to fail” means anything to you, you’ll be at home in tapered fit.

Relaxed Fit.
Relaxed fit jeans are the least constructed jeans available. They are roomy, they are comfortable, they are forgiving, and they are loose. Relaxed fit jeans are often constructed of lighter or more thoroughly-washed denim, aiding their “unbound” character and making them a great choice for the warmer months. The top block is as unsupported as can still stay on, and the legs are the widest that you’ll find on any pair. The female equivalent of the relaxed fit is the Boyfriend jean.


That's all for Part One. Next time: we talk washes and fabrics. 


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My Daily Kiehl's Essentials


    Everyone has their morning routine: wash face, make breakfast, then leave feeling ready to take on the day. I start my skincare routine the same way every morning and always leave my apartment with a fresh, clean face. How? I start every morning with My Daily Kiehl's Essentials. With this routine, I can skip the powders and foundations because of how smooth and even my skin is when I’m done!

    First thing's first: the gentle morning shower. I usually don’t recommend products from the men’s lines to women (men’s skin is thicker, so the products don’t always work for both genders), but there’s a few I’ll make an exception for. The Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap is one of those products. One of the great ingredients in this product is Oat Bran, which gently exfoliates while it hydrates skin. I always have the smoothing skin after my shower because of the Scrub - just make sure to not use it on your face.

    After my shower and after I cleanse and tone, I make sure I get my daily dose of Vitamin C with the Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate. Celebrating 10 years in the Kiehl's family this fall, the product has been a customer favorite since it launched. No matter the age or skin type, this has benefits for you: the Line Reducing Concentrate contains 10.5% pure Vitamin C, the most you can get without a prescription. It is great for anti-aging, and also at reversing fine lines and wrinkles. A lot of users have even said that it tightens the skin as well. Just don’t forget to pair this product with sunscreen!

    Then, I use the Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. This is another product that is great for all skin types and all ages. If you are looking for a moisturizer for the delicate eye area, the Avocado Eye Treatment is perfect. It is, by the way, so important to use products specifically formulated for the eye! The skin around the orbital zone is much thinner and more susceptible to wrinkles and damage by products that are too harsh. The Creamy Avocado Eye Treatment contains Squalane, an ingredient that is naturally derived from olives and makes a silky moisturizer that is extremely compatible with the skin. When you apply, you literally feel a burst of moisture! Just always remember to pat, not pull, when putting the product on.

    Next up: a facial cream. The Ultra Facial Cream is another product that is great for most skin types and all ages. It's a potent 24-hour moisturizer, and, my favorite Kiehl’s product! A little goes a long way so don’t be surprised if a 1.7 ounce container lasts forever. This product is also formulated with Squalane, so it is very compatible with your skin’s natural oils. This moisturizer will keep your skin looking plump and dewy all day.

    Before I leave for the day, I make sure I rehydrate my skin with the Creme de Corps Body Lotion. The lotion contains Cocoa Butter which makes my skin silky and smooth, especially after dehydrating hot showers. My favorite part about the Creme de Corps? A purse-friendly 2.5oz version - I carry mine with me everywhere I go.

    Questions about skincare or need some help forming your own routine? Leave a comment below, or stop in the store and ask for Bailey! I'm happy to help you love the skin you're in.

~Bailey J. -Women's Fashion


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#WellnessWednesday: Rekindle Your Fitness Spark! 5 Great Ways to Stay Motivated


This week's Guest Blogger is Sarah B. (@squatsinskirts):

    Motivation is hard to find and harder to keep. Committing to health and wellness is not always easy, and it’s ok for there to be times in your life when you de-prioritize health and fitness. If you miss a workout, eat half a pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting, or tailgate with perhaps too much enthusiasm unknown to mankind (guilty), you’re NOT off track. You’re human. There are like seven billion of us. Welcome. However, if you find yourself ‘falling off the wagon’ due to stress and a busy calendar, here are some tips.

1. Remind yourself why you committed to a healthy lifestyle.
    Remember, working out and nourishing your body well come out of self love, not self hate. Take care of yourself because you want to thrive-not because you want to punish your body.

2. Focus on ability, not aesthetics.
    You may not have a visible six-pack or biceps of steel. That’s ok. It’s so much more important to focus on what your body can DO as opposed to how it looks. You CAN run around, and lift heavy things, and walk to class, and hug your friends and family, and hold planks, and dance like no one's watching… the list goes on. 
   In the long run, aesthetics are impacted by a variety of factors including diet, exercise, genetics, and neurotransmitters, some of which you can't even influence no matter how hard you try. But ability? That comes from hard work. Shift your perspective. The motivation will come.

3. Spice up your routine.
    Maybe you’re losing motivation because you’re bored. That means its time to switch it up! Tired of steady-state cardio? Try Tabata or HIIT. Take a spin or Zumba class. Bored of your traditional back/bis-chest/tries-legs split? Add in a plyometrics day or focus in on KILLING a particular muscle group. Do things that challenge and interest you. The gym is your playground - don’t be afraid to experiment with equipment and routines that you’ve never tried before.

4.Find some external motivation.
    Workout buddies are the best. For example, I have a standing 6:30 AM gym date with one of my sorority sisters. She always pushes me to keep going for one more set, 30 more seconds, 10 more pounds. Some mornings, I wouldn’t be able to push through my workout without her support! Friends can act as mirrors and cheerleaders - they encourage and push you to reach your goals. 

5. Think happy thoughts!
    A positive attitude can move mountains. You have to believe that you are worth making this change. Do it for the endorphins! For the #gainz! Above all, for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

~Sarah B. -@squatsinskirts


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bivouac Eats: Behind the Scenes at Babo Market (Ann Arbor, MI)

    It’s no secret we’re fans of SavCo. From delectable tapas at Aventura to mouthwateringsteaks at Sava’s Restaurant, we’ve time and time again sung the praises of Ann Arbor local Sava Lelcaj and her ambitious, thriving mission to improve the world by first improving its nutrition. While we’re sure no one at SavCo would protest if you ate three meals a day at one of their fabulous restaurants, SavCo has never been about putting a healthy lifestyle out of reach for the average Ann Arborite. In 2011, Sava pulled back the curtains on its latest project, one aiming to make every meal – not just that special Saturday treat out – as wholesome, nutritious, and locally-sourced as its restaurants.

    Officially titled “babo: a Market by Sava”, the E Washington St. “grocer·ant” (that’s “grocery/restaurant”) opened its doors to runaway success. From a single original neighborhood grocer, babo has expanded to 3 locations (including one tucked away in Ann Arbor’s famous Nickel’s Arcade) and serves up everything from fresh vegetables and organic groceries, to a full grab-and-go prepared foods menu alongside its own line of salads and juice cleanses.

    And Ann Arbor has noticed: as a University of Michigan student, it’s impossible to walk across the Diag without spotting one of babo’s ubiquitous juice bottles or white paper bags, posed by someone out enjoying a lunch break in the sun. Apparently, it’s also impossible to write reviews of Sava’s restaurants without turning a head or two in their office – just last week, I had the incredible opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at babo Market as they prepped hot and cold food for a busy day serving downtown Treetown. 

Today on Bivouac Eats: we Meal Prep with babo Market!

Recipe #1: Tuscan Bean Salad (Cold)

  • Kidney Beans
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Green Olives, Sliced 
  • Red Onions, Chopped
  • Tomatoes, Diced 
  • House Made Balsamic

babo was pretty hush-hush about the precise proportions, but chef was able to offer his one tip: when it comes to dressing, less is more. And with that many colorful veggies in the mix, I’ll take his word for it.

Recipes #2: Chipotle Chicken (Hot! Hot! Hot!)

  • Chicken
  • Peppers Mix
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chipotle Peppers
  • Blue Cheese (to top)

    While I’d like to believe that every student house has an open-flame grill and that our readers at home could all turn out the same beautiful grill marks that chef serves up, 30-40 minutes in a 400° F oven (or until golden) will cook chicken breast just as well. 

    Chipotle Chicken is also a great “leftovers friendly” meal for any aspiring meal preppers. If you don’t want to make your own sauce, any of babo’s delectable condiment choices will make a great accompaniment. Once done, just add the sauce and veggies, then serve!

    All in all, my first experience “behind the scenes” at a busy, downtown eatery was something I’ll never forget. This “Bivouac Eats” is a tad shorter than most, considering I was too busy taking in the sights and smells to take many notes. But – as I’m sure you’ve noticed - I did take tons of pictures!

    Try the recipes at home, enjoy this look into the wild world of babo, and make sure to stop into one of the 3 markets on Boardwalk Dr, E Washington St, or in Nickel’s Arcade! Your stomach will thank you.  

~Alex R. -Men's Fashion


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Brand History: Fjallraven

The Essentials:
Founded: 1960
Country of Origin: Sweden
Famous for: Kanken backpack, G-1000 fabric, Greenland jacket, Expedition down jacket, world's first Thermo tents
Social and Environmental Responsibility initiatives: climate compensated backpack production (2008), 100% traceable down across the Fjallraven supply chain (2010), Fair Labor Association member (2013), internal Code of Conduct based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that all Fjallraven suppliers must sign

The Story:
    In the basement of a small Örnsköldsvik home on Sweden's High Coast, a 14-year-old boy began an outdoors revolution. Åke Nordin, an avid outdoors lover, was dissatisfied with his trekking pack. Its unstructured cotton construction hung low and away from the body, causing any load in the pack to be as mechanically disadvantageous as possible to its carrier. In a small shack adjoining his family's cabin in the Örnsköldsvik hills, Åke put together a crude wooden frame, stitched a canvas bag around it, and affixed leather straps. The resulting backpack wore higher, carried weight better, and even circulated air better than its frameless cousins. 

    Åke was on to something, but it wasn't until 1960 (a full decade later) that his business would open its doors. After finishing his schooling, serving in the Swedish armed forces, and finally returning home to his family's flat in Örnsköldsvik, Åke began producing his framed backpacks to sell to outdoors enthusiasts across the continent under the name Fjallraven (Swedish for "the Arctic Fox").

    Over the next two decades, Fjallraven's products garnered international acclaim for their outdoor utility, but never truly transcended Europe's outdoors enthusiasts. While waxed Greenland jackets traveled to the Arctic Circle and back with rave reviews, the average European simply had no daily use for the situationally-tailored Fjallraven apparel offered at that time. Sure, the waxed G-1000 nylon was as durable as can and completely waterproof to boot - but it was also expensive for the time and generally considered too "outdoorsy" for casual wear. The average European didn't know Fjallraven, or if they did, treated it with the same reverence a modern consumer may treat snowpeak: great products, but made for a different lifestyle than their own. In 1978, close to 30 years after his original pack innovation, Åke Nordin returned to his workshop for yet another backpack that would not only expose the general public to the quality and utility of Fjallraven goods, but also solve one of Sweden's largest public health crises of the era.

    In the late 1970's, startling research conducted in the city of Gothenberg revealed that more than 75% of the Swedish population suffered from an episode of severe back pain at least once in their lives. Even more worringly: the data showed an increase in back pain episodes trending toward younger and younger children. This data skew was attributed to the popularity of shoulder bags among Swedish schoolchildren. Åke believed that if Swedish school kids were offered a stylish, supportive alternative to their shoulder bags, they would make the switch themselves (with no parental or governmental prodding) and in turn, straighten out a generation's worth of back pain. With the help of the Swedish Guide and Scout Association (Sweden's equivalent of the Boy Scouts), the Fjallraven Kanken was introduced in the early fall of 1978, just in time for the school year. The Kanken was an instant hit. In over 35 years, the only major change has been the addition of a laptop compartment.

    Since then, the Fjallraven brand has expanded to stores, suppliers, and everyday users all over the world. The introduction of the Kanken proved that outdoors technology and design process could be applied to everyday living, and the proliferation of Fjallraven's jackets and apparel soon followed. The rugged construction, commitment to quality, and muted color palette have since carved a niche for Fjallraven's products in a crowded outdoors marketplace saturated by brands emphasizing quantity over attention to detail. Fjallraven's products harken back to the golden age of mid-20th century exploration - when an intrepid Swedish outdoorsmen could revolutionize an industry from his basement, only to go out trekking the next. Technical membranes are few and far between, but if decades of Arctic explorers thrived with Fjallraven parkas, they'll handle a Michigan winter just fine and look great doing it. 

    How great, exactly? In 2005, a Swedish court classified the original Fjallraven Expedition Down Parka those explorers wore as art. We'll take our Arctic Fox over any Goose.

~Alex R. -Men's Fashion  


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Bivouac Denim Encyclopedia: 8 Jean Fits Every Girl Needs in Her Wardrobe

There is nothing more essential than a great pair of jeans.
But how do you know which pair is yours?
Welcome to the Bivouac Denim Encyclopedia. 

    My goal is to help you find your perfect denim fit by teaching you all I can about the wardrobe stable known as "blue jeans". Every week, I'll be breaking down a different denim topic in order to help you decide what's for you, what you love, and what you need to round out a versatile college wardrobe! Without further ado, here's Part I: The 8 Jean Fits Every Girl Needs in Her Wardrobe.


1. The Skinny.

    In top spot: the timeless skinny jean. Whether you prefer a thick, true denim or a comfortable legging style, this fit has it all! A light distressed pair, like this high rise light wash by Citizens of Humanity is perfect for your casual daytime look. The distress webs from the middle for a cool spin on a classic skinny jean. I love to style a laid back skinny jean with a basic tee and flats for an effortless cool girl look (7 For All Mankind also makes an amazing high rise skinny!)

2. The Flare.

    The 70’s are back and we are loving it. This J-Brand pair of flares will give any outfit you wear the perfect edge. They are perfect for any body type, giving slim girls some shape and balancing out hips on curvy girl. Not to mention, the baggy and loose nature of flares make them ridiculously comfortable! Most pairs are made of cotton denim with a touch of elastane to give you a little stretch. Style the flare with some wedges a crop top for a full on retro look.

3. The Straight.

    A style that is on the rise and we will be seeing quite a bit this fall, straight leg jeans are a flattering fit that does not taper from the knee to the ankle. Perfect for a polished and professional look, this versatile pair can also transition to a casual outfit. This indigo straight leg from Paige Premium Denim is a great darker wash for a sleek vibe - I would pair it with a light top with movement and a pointed toe heel for a sophisticated look.

4. The Legging.

    We all have those days where we are tempted to roll out of bed and schlep to class, judgement-free, in our leggings and a sweatshirt. 8am lectures, there's a way to look stylish and stay comfy: this pair of Joe’s Jeans denim leggings! Perfect the look with a pair of slip on sneakers or Supergas and a cozy sweater for the fall - just try not to fall asleep during class.

5. The Cigarette.

    The cigarette leg is the perfect balance between a skinny and a straight leg. It tapers from the knee to the ankle, but not as much as a skinny would. For reference, this pair of AG Jeans has a 11 ¼ inch opening at the ankle, while their skinny has a dramatically smaller 9 inch ankle. I love this versatile pair for the breezy days of the summer-fall transition! Pair them with a light jacket and some booties for a seasonal look that's sure to please.

6. The Dark and Slim.

Every girl knows that she needs a dark slim jean for dinner dates and drinks - streamlined, not skintight, with an inky wash to couple. This pair from Frame has delicate distress and a perfect fit that complements body shape, not restricts it. Dark slim jeans can be paired with literally anything, and make day-to-night look oh so easy! Just switch out your flats for some stilettos and throw on a printed silk tank for the perfect "going out" look.

7. The Bootcut.

    A great alternative to the flare (and a nod to the 90’s), the bootcut jean is the fashion staple we all grew up watching on the runways. This pair by Hudson, their "Baby Boot", has a 31 inch inseam, perfect for all of you petite girls! We love the distress on this pair styled with and a light fall jacket. A great finishing touch would be a choker-inspired necklace to complete the look.

8. The Dressed-Up Pair.

    Last but not least: we have your biz-caz ready dressed-up denim. For more professional occasions, try this dressed-up pair from Rag and Bone! The fabric is thicker and the feel is a mix between true denim and a pair of dress slacks. Pair it with a closed toe pair of heels, a collared blouse, and a blazer for when it starts to cool down for fall!


    That's all for Part I! Keep watching the Blog for more Denim Encyclopedia from me and the rest of the jean experts here at Bivouac! Or, if you have any questions, stop by the store and say hi.

~Bailey J. -Women's Fashion


Bivouac: Where Outdoor Passion Meets Indoor Fashion.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Coffeetown, Michigan: The 5 Best Coffee Places in Ann Arbor


    Like any college town, Ann Arbor is chock full of coffee shops, each serving up its own unique take on the black and hot yet all brimming with students, laptops and textbooks. The artistic and slightly eccentric tones that make Ann Arbor the unique city manifest themselves into a widespread and thriving coffee culture. With everything from national chains to small batch roasters all packed within mere blocks, it's no wonder that Treetown has taken on an identity as one of the Midwest's premiere coffee destinations.

    With so many options so close by, I set off on a mission: taste the best Ann Arbor's coffee scene has to offer in order to answer, once and for all, the age old question on every college student's mind: "Where should I get coffee?"

Combining taste with several other factors including atmosphere, price, mug size (an important one for poor college students), and overall experience determined by personal ranking below. Without further ado, here are The 5 Best Coffee Places in Ann Arbor. 

    Lab is, first and foremost, not a coffee shop - Lab takes special attention to call itself an urban café. In addition to its famous coffee and tea selection, there is both a lunch menu and various beer and wine options on order. Located on East Liberty St, the café is within easy walking distance of the University and also hosts a rotating yogurt bar, pastries, and loose leaf tea.

    Upon my entrance, I saw a chalkboard sign advertising their special of the day: a Brown Sugar Sea Salt Latte. My mouth instantly began to salivate and I knew what I would be ordering. The coffee shop is largely white walled, with shelves filled with small accessories. Lab has a decidedly minimalist feel to it: colors are flat, lighting is dim, and speakers play 80's synth hits as you sip. There are few places to sit, but I managed to grab a spot at the bar, which made for an ideal people watching location.

    My drink (which the barista advised me to order iced) was delicious! Unfortunately, it came in at a steep $4.25. The perfect combination of sweet with a hint of salt, I drank it quickly but was disappointed all too soon by the shallow glass given how much I had paid.

    A great drink in a cool setting, but the steep price and limited seating make it just a tad too much for any frequent visits. That being said, go and try the Brown Sugar Sea Salt Latte! A visit to Lab makes for a wonderful treat after a long day or difficult midterm. 

    Up next: The Espresso Bar.  Located above the world-famous Literati Bookstore on Washington Street, this petit cafe is the perfect location for a book and a drink!

    Climb up the stairs and you’ll be taken from book heaven to coffee heaven. The Espresso Bar hosts a small selection of coffee drinks and baked goods. The shop is also in the same place as the children’s section of Literati. Large bay windows provide an excellent and serene image of the city of Ann Arbor.

    I ordered a small cappuccino ($3.25 - a fair price) and was told to find a seat while my drink was prepared. In perhaps the polar opposite of the classic coffee counter format, I was actually served my drink! It was nice to relax and get right into reading rather than elbow for space in a packed line, waiting for someone to mispronounce my name.

    Then, there was the drink: my cappuccino couldn’t have been more perfect for what I was looking for. Foamy and warm with an intricate and impressive leaf design, it was the ideal companion to my novel of choice.

    The only fault is very limited seating and far from enough power outlets to go around. On a busy work day, you'll likely wait to plug in or even sit. In summary, The Espresso Bar is an inviting environment serving up fantastic drinks and made with book lovers in mind. The next time you stop in Literati for a new read, take the time to walk up the stairs and visit The Espresso Bar. The large and bright room makes for a lovely place to waste an afternoon away with your nose in a book.

    Third place goes to a Washtenaw County classic, a local chain with many different locations in and around Ann Arbor: Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea.

    Sweetwaters is bright, welcoming, and generally cheery - the opposite of many larger coffee chains. They have a large menu of coffee and tea drinks accompanied by a truly impressive selection of desserts: macaroons, tiramisu, cakes and quiche to name a few. An expansive seating selection and their brick walls give the shop an industrial, yet inviting vibe. And, there are more than enough outlets to go around! I can just imagine how great Sweetwaters must be for group projects.

    I opted for a small latte, which cost a mere $2.70 (the cheapest of any drinks so far!); therefore, I couldn’t resist from picking from their assortment of macaroons and putting all those savings to good use! One dark chocolate macaroon cost $1.40 and to be completely honest, it was the most enjoyable $1.40 I’ve ever spent. The macaroon tasted fresh and was very soft. The latte, which came in a mug that was almost twice the size of The Espresso Bar, was warm, comforting and foamy. While it lacked any foam design, it tasted great and definitely won the quantity battle - a perfect choice for the student on a budget.

   Sweetwaters is a coffee shop designed with students in mind. It’s a great place to study or to catch up with friends. A quieter environment, I would recommend setting up your laptop and study the afternoon away at Sweetwaters—after you have a dark chocolate macaroon, of course.

    Who hasn’t heard of Espresso Royale? With their popular, student-friendly specials like "Latte Wednesdays" (any latte, any size for only $2) and $1.25 coffee refills, Espresso Royale truly knows what their primarily undergraduate clientele wants: good brew at a fair price, and lots of it. A large coffee shop with little lighting and relaxing music, it is the perfect place to meet to mingle with friends or study alone.

    A seasoned Espresso Royale customer, I have developed a sincere “coffee-ship” (coffee friendship) with some of the baristas. Perhaps that’s what I believe sets Espresso apart from other coffee shops in Ann Arbor. The baristas are always accommodating and even inquire about what mug their customers would prefer to have their coffee served in.

    I opted for a small Americano, priced at $1.80. Served in a slim glass mug, their coffee is rich and warm. Espresso has a full coffee bar complete with simple syrup and other coffee making essentials. Moody music fills the large coffee shop. Wooden tables, couches and chairs are available for customers to pick at their choosing.

    On a busy September day, you'll hear everything from friendly conversation to intense MCAT study sessions as you sip from the comfort of a big, cushy couch - this is truly the place where Ann Arbor convenes. Espresso Royale is the perfect meeting spot for a study session, gossip session or a rejuvenating contemplative session. Their coffees are high quality and priced generously. 

    The moment you've all been waiting for: in first place, Comet Coffee! A small space tucked away in the storied Nickle's Arcade, Comet Coffee embodies everything that's good about the town of Ann Arbor and its coffee culture.

    Comet can get very busy - and a little claustrophobic - during coffee “rush hour” aka: weekends and mornings. However, at off times, it is the ideal place for a mid-afternoon calming session fueled by some of the best coffee you'll ever taste. They have a small—yet extremely high quality—selection of pastries and desserts up front, but its the coffee and the community that gathers there that truly sets Comet apart. 

    Comet Coffee has always had a special place in my heart, and I credit it as the place responsible for my love of all things espresso. I paid $2.60 for my small espresso, which came with a glass of fizzy water (you can also opt for flat). The baristas are very skilled and are always willing to shed insight on any part of the coffee-making process, from bean to machine and everything in between.

    Great drinks, wonderful space, knowledgeable baristas, and a supportive community that gathers around the tiny shop whenever possible: while every coffee shop certainly has its special qualities, Comet Coffee has them all. It is for that reason that I can proudly declare it my best coffee shop in Ann Arbor.


     Let my ranking serve as an encouragement for you to venture onto the streets of Ann Arbor to form your own list of the best coffee shops in our amazing city. Best of luck, and happy sipping!

~Carly N. -Women's Fashion


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