2124 Michigan Ave.
Detroit Michigan 48216United States
Within a sleek storefront in Detroit's Corktown, Australian expats create coffee shop perfection with impeccably curated beans, a single brewing process and homemade baked goods.
In 2011, the concept of coffee shops might seem cliche; moreover, the idea of opening one in a fringe area of Detroit could border on lunacy. But Daisuke Hughes and Jessica Hicks, Australians who met in London and then came to Detroit to work in the short-lived Mercury Coffee Bar, ignored any shards of discouragement and, rather than leaving, decided to create their own coffee spot. The shop, located on a gentrifying block of Michigan Avenue in Detroit, has an inviting stoop with baskets of plants adjacent, where pensive students gather to chat, ponder and sip Astro's coffee. In fact, it was this block that brought the aspiring baristas to Detroit -- they knew that Corktown, a formerly Irish bastion, was up and coming, and that the rents would be reasonable. Open since July 2011, Astro is a sleekly rustic beacon of great coffee and locally sourced baked goods. Jessica, who also runs a small catering business, is responsible for the delectable treats like fudgy rich brownies and delicate, pale ecru meringues, fluted in a dainty spiral. The coffee, though, is the real star, culled from destinations throughout the United States and brewed painstakingly cup by cup. Most known is the "flat white," an Australian beverage that's a smaller, lighter form of cappuccino. It arrives in a heavy white cup, its foam in the shape of a delicate leaf. This is no Starbucks -- the feeling is more European, more exotic, more anywhere but here. Hicks and Hughes are glad they stayed. "It means something to be a shop owner here," Hughes says. "And I'm not competing with a bunch of other shops to stay open." Beverages from $3; pastries from $2.