Caffeinated atmospherics

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With wood floors, large bay windows that look out at the Detroit skyline, and a menu that holds up with anywhere in the 'burbs, this second-floor coffee spot immediately makes you feel at home. Forget condos and new ballparks, the real reason for a notable urban improvement is the emergence of cozy, friendly locations like Bittersweet Coffeehouse.

Since the closing of indie java hangout Zoot's several years ago, there has been an obvious lack of all-ages coffeehouses in Detroit. Bittersweet -- where you can chill out with friends in a relaxed, non-bar atmosphere -- is a huge step forward, filling up the gap in the downtown scene. Local art adorns the walls, and management is very open to such support. Although sometimes louder than conversation level, speakers pump out a mix of alternative music by artists such as Tori Amos and Pulp.

Bittersweet's menu includes a bevy of the usual coffee drinks, tea, chai, etc., but the real treats are specialty beverages such as blended fruit drinks and a homemade ginger tea that will clear out your sinuses for weeks. Deserts, bagels and sandwiches round out the bill. The room is set up with a decent-sized PA for regular poetry readings and acoustic music, which will hopefully continue to expand in the future. A great spot tucked away on Woodward, Bittersweet deserves to be made into your regular day or nighttime hangout.

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