Fans of Ferndale might remember the now defunct, yet much beloved A.J.'s Café. The former coffee shop on West Nine Mile still holds the Guinness World Record for the longest multi-person concert in history.
But A.J. O'Neil, the owner of A.J.'s, didn't want to renew his lease in 2012. Instead, he wanted to focus on making coffee and spreading the good word about the great things happening in Detroit. So he teamed up with Becharas Brothers Coffee of Highland Park and got busy roasting.
Two years later, Detroit Bold Coffee is now available in superstores like Meijer and Kroger and by the time this story hits the street, it'll be in Midtown's Whole Foods too. While you can pick up Woodward Ave., 1701 French Roast, Café Signature, and Café Signature Decaf in brown, biodegradable bags, you can also get them in Keurig-compatible, single-serving cups (what O'Neil calls "D-Cups").
With four standard flavors, Detroit Bold also offers special Halloween and Christmas blends, which are released in late August and November, respectively, as well as the rare Cass Park blend, which O'Neil makes specifically to donate to the twice-monthly picnic for the homeless in Cass Park. Detroit Bold Coffee lovers can only get this blend at a special fundraiser taking place at Corktown's Gaelic League Oct. 16. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the same nonprofit that supports the Sunday picnics.
The beans are procured from South and Central American countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Brazil through a century-old relationship, they're then roasted at Becharas' plant. The result is "fresh as can be," according to O'Neil, a coffee that's devoid of an overly acidic nature, but rather smooth, flavorful, and, in our opinion, better than anything you're going to get at Starbucks, ever.
"It's all about quality and consistency," says O'Neil.
He adds that Woodward Ave. is the brand's most popular blend, and it's the one we sampled as well. At $6 a bag from Meijer (which is cheaper than buying it at ajscoffeeworks.com), it seemed a worthy purchase for a great cup of coffee.