Throughout high school, and whenever we were visiting home from college, my friends and I would invariably end up at a coffee shop named Cup-a-cino’s. For our younger readers, you might not realize what a real coffee shop is, due to the fact that you grew up with Starbuck’s being the model coffee house. Well lit, free wi-fi, sandwiches available, and everyone tap tap tapping away on their laptops. That’s not what I fell in love with in my teen years. The place I fell in love with was a small dark shop full of misfits. It was a place with strange art on the walls. It had a book shelf where you were free to take a book, as long as you left a new one in its place. It was where I learned how to play Backgammon, taught by a group of Chaldeans from Iraq who spoke very little English. It was where I could go and smoke cigarettes while drinking some of the richest coffee imaginable (unless you are my mom, in which case it was where I could go and study while drinking some of the richest coffee imaginable).
Cup-a-cino’s is where I fell in love with coffee, in all its varieties. I love the fierce taste of an espresso, or the creamy desert-like taste of lattes. Most of all, I love a great cup of black coffee which is surprisingly hard to come by in this day and age. Gas station coffee is always burnt. Starbuck’s never gets it right, it’s as if they teach their baristas how to make a cappuccino, but not how to brew a simple pot of coffee. People who say that Dunkin’ Donuts makes the best coffee have clearly never had any other kind of coffee. Biggby’s comes closest, and they definitely have the most pleasant employees, but no coffee shop comes close the coffee I used to drink at Cup-a-cino’s. Except one.
Everyone at Lansing Collective absolutely loves the Lansing City Market. For a while this summer Khalid and I were down there at least once a week. We still try to get down there regularly, but haven’t been so good about it recently.
The great thing about the City Market is not just the goods. Okay, the foods are good, and local. You can’t complain about that. But the people really make the experience for me.
For almost everyone I know, one of the major favorites at City Market is Hills Homecured Cheese. If you love cheese like I do, you can’t go wrong, but hands-down my favorite vendor there is Neva Austin, of Aggie Mae’s Bakery. (Check out the photo of Neva on their website – I took that one too!)
It’s really nice to walk in to pick up bread, and have her remember your name, and have a conversation with her about the shop, the Market, and everything going on in your lives.
Highlights include the seeded sourdough, the baguette, the whole wheat, the focaccia… basically having bread from Neva, and cheese from Hills, are worth the trip to the Market in and of themselves.
You can become a fan of Aggie Mae’s on Facebook, or follow Aggie Mae’s on Twitter.
Hills Homecured Cheese is on Facebook too, so make sure you friend them as well
Lately my favorite place to take the laptop and get some work done is Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee. Heck, I go through their drive-through and get a cup when I don’t have time to make my own in the morning.
Its a nice relaxing place, usually busy, but not so much that you can’t get a seat, and their wireless internet is nice and quick (a HUGE deal for me).
Now, while they’re not strictly a Lansing company, they are a Michigan company, and there’s a lot to like about them.
When I’m at work, I tend to be driving around a lot, hopping from client to client, and office to office. So when I eat out for lunch, I usually want something pretty quick. Often times, due to time and location, that means chain restaurants. I try to avoid too much fast food, and usually go for sandwiches, something like Quizno’s or Jimmy John’s.
Those places are okay, but as aways, I like to eat at local places. Schwartz’s Deli is one of my favorites when I’m in the Frandor area.
Before Schwartz’s, there was another deli there, called Amici’s. It was pretty darn good as well, but when Mike Schwartz bought the place, a few things changed.