OT: Question About Sweetwaters Cafe In Ann Arbor

Submitted by MJ14 on September 17th, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Thanks to the diary a while back I checked out some of the places in Ann Arbor when I came up for a game last year. One of those places was Sweetwaters Cafe, because I'm a huge coffee fan, and I'm all about supporting local businesses. I'd rather get something from a local place than a place like Starbucks. Anyways, I really enjoyed going there and so I've been wondering now for a while if they sell ground coffee in packages that I could purchase? I live in Bloomington, as I'm going to Indiana University, so it'd have to be shipped too. But I'm wondering if any of the locals can help me out here. Sorry if this is too off-topic or whatever. Neg away if you must, but I've tried calling and didn't get an answer. I know this board is filled with people who would know, so I figured I would ask. Thanks for any help and again sorry if this is too off-topic. Just wanting to support a local business and get some good coffee that I could make here in my apartment, if at all possible.



September 17th, 2012 at 3:20 PM ^

DIdn't even know about Zingerman's, maybe a website or something I could check out? I'm coming back up for the Iowa game, and bringing my mom who's a coffee lover. So we will definitely check out any place that you or anyone else recommends. Was Zingerman's on that post with the list of places to go? If so, I must have just missed it! Will certainly check it out in November! Thanks!


September 17th, 2012 at 6:11 PM ^

If you're in to coffee you have to check out Mighty Good coffee on Main Street. I think it is far and away the best coffee place in town, definitely better than Sweetwaters (just my opinion). They roast their own, and yes they distribute it. I think you can also purchase it from their website.


September 17th, 2012 at 3:41 PM ^


Zingerman’s Coffee Co. is a wholesale roaster supplying cafes, restaurants and businesses. Feel free to contact us for sales information and for places to buy our coffee. It was started in 2003 by Allen Leibowitz and the founders of Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig. In 2008, Steve Mangigian joined as co-managing partner with Allen.



Wei and Lisa Bee founded the first Sweetwaters in 1993 in downtown Ann Arbor near their alma mater, The University of Michigan. Inspired by their love of food and drink and driven by their creativity, Sweetwaters was conceived and brought to life. The marvelous result: a coffeehouse that celebrates classic café fare alongside globally influenced coffees and teas in an environment that is both tasteful and friendly... just like Wei and Lisa. Today, they both remain integral to daily life at Sweetwaters through their stores, community involvement, and search for inspirational products for their customers. Stop by to meet them and say hi if you'd like, chances are you'll find them chatting with one of the many regular customers who have now become their friends.


They both seem to be pretty local. (Do you mean where they get the coffee beans from, rather than the company?) The problem with Zingerman's is their "coffee shop" is in the middle of nowhere unless you're going to Costco. There's at least a few Sweetwater locations. Both probably ship though.  


September 17th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

I have to somewhat disagree.  Zingermans is a series of companies with ownership and management typically split between two groups.  As already pointed out in an earlier post, rhe first group is comprised of Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, the founders of Zingermans, and a second group of typically two additional owner managers who have direct oversight over the businesses.  Zingermans has wanted, and is succeeding admirably, in setting up a series of divisions with all but one being food related (Zingtrain). They are incredibly image and quality conscious and the result is one of the finest food operations in America.  The company has been used as a case study in a couple of the better MBA programs....maybe someone from Ross who is familar with the company can weigh in.

You are correct that their name is commonly used for each of their businesses, but if you have been to the various establishments that fall within their umbrella, you will appreciate that there is nothing about them that suggests anything other than incredibly personalized service which they seem to do as well as or better than almost any establishment I have ever purchased from. They are also uniquely bound to Ann Arbor and plan to stay that way.


September 17th, 2012 at 8:34 PM ^

The implication that I responded to suggested a corporate culture in the context of Sweetwater's multiple locations and more.  Zingerman's is a series of unique, single location, discrete businesses substantially selling different products joined, among other things, by the good will associated with the name.  That is a very different structure than Sweetwater.  

Either way, you can still get a good cup of coffee at several locations around Ann Arbor.


September 17th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

Thanks a bunch. I'm all for checking out all of these places when I get a chance. Looks like between ZIngerman's and these two suggestions I'll be covered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner coffee on one day at least. I'll be up there for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so again I'm all for more suggestions. I can never get enough good coffee and supporting the businesses in Ann Arbor, especially local ones, is always nice.


September 17th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

Where in the world can you find that link on the website? I was literally just on it and couldn't find anything! Thanks a bunch, I really did go to the website and look around, as well as call. I appreciate the help, and really wasn't trying to be a hassle.

Edit: Wow, I now see the plainly obvious link that says Shop. For whatever reason I just completely overlooked that. Thanks again!

Feat of Clay

September 17th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

Don't feel sheepish.  I am someone's supplier for Espresso Royale.  ER sells a blend my friend got addicted to when she lived in Champaign (they are a small chain) and she pines for it now that she is in Chicago.  When I see her (or she visits Ann Arbor) she gets a hookup.

But you my friend are in luck, Sweetwaters has an online shop. http://sweetwaterscafe.myshopify.com/collections/coffees


September 17th, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

Yes they have coffee available to purchase on their website.  Me however, I'd take Zingerman's and Bearclaw's coffee over Sweetwaters any day...


September 17th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

This is pretty much unrelated, but I didn't want to start a topic for it. Living Social has 50% off a five course tasting menu for two at Grange. I've not been there, but I remember Brian writing about it in his "places to eat" post last year and have wanted to try it ever since. Therefore, I jumped on it.


P.S. Yes, that's my link, but I'm not posting this simply to try to get my deal for free. The coffee post just reminded me of it.

Feat of Clay

September 17th, 2012 at 4:11 PM ^

We were just at The Grange for brunch earlier this month, trying to figure out when it got so busy/popular.  A regular at the next table said the Grange had recently done a Living Social deal and had been busy since.  Guess they decided to do another based on the success of the first.



September 17th, 2012 at 3:54 PM ^

Mighty Good Coffee on Main would also be worth your time. Another local roaster that makes an excellent product.  Better than Sweetwater's, to be honest, and in general more reasonable than Zingerman's.  I would be hard pressed to pick between MG and Zingerman's, though.


September 17th, 2012 at 5:07 PM ^

I know this is beside the point, and I really don't care, but how does someone who goes to Indiana love Michigan?  Did your Michigan football love precede your college choice?  Again, not trying to be dickish, just curious.


September 17th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

A couple of reasons and no worries about asking. I moved to Indiana after living in Big Rapids and Dearborn for a while. I was born in Big Rapids and my mom was born in Ann Arbor, so that's where I was influenced to like the Wolverines. My grandfather was an All-Big Ten tennis player for OSU. My parents and grandparents now live across the street from each other in Indiana, so when the Michigan - OSU game is on it's a pretty fun time being on our block.

Anyways, I thought I would share that so you get why I'm a Michigan fan. I grew up a Wolverine fan and when I was younger I went to Memorial Stadium and watched Braylon against the Hoosiers. From that day forward, I've been an even bigger fan.

Now why I go to Indiana University. Out of state tuition for me was way too much, especially for what I'm studying. I'll be lucky to be making roughly $60,000 to $70,000 a year, so it's not like I'll have loads of money. I probably would have been about $50,000 in debt or so. Out of state tuition for a Junior/Senior at Michigan is $41,000. Plus the cost of living and eating. Where as Indiana University is $10,000 for me. Plus I get some of my tuition covered, so it's really about $5,000 a year for 2 years. That's only $10,000 in debt, which is way better in my situation.

That's about it. The cost is about the only reason I didn't attend. I should also mention my parents have next to no money either, so they couldn't help me out either. To be honest, I was a slacker in high school and if I wanted to, probably could have gotten scholarships that would have helped me actually get into Michigan. But, I didn't work as hard as I could, so it didn't work out. My dream was always to attend the University of Michigan, but my work ethic and lack of any kind of money prevented that.


September 17th, 2012 at 6:04 PM ^

Thanks man, and you don't have to offer an explanation to me.  I'm literally a Wal-Mart Wolverine.  I worked at Wal-Mart for a little bit when I made poor life decisions and was unemployed.  I consider being able to attend any Div 1 caliber university an accomplishment in and of itself.


September 17th, 2012 at 10:44 PM ^

Committee for Institutional Cooperation. It's roughly the academic equivalent to the Big Ten for athletics (except schools tend to be in multiple different academic alliances), and it consists of all the Big Ten schools plus the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, it looks like the program being referred to is only for doctoral students who have a need for access to special labs/libraries/etc. that aren't available at their school but is available at another CIC institute.


September 17th, 2012 at 9:09 PM ^

Out of state tuition at Michigan is a fortune....the last I looked, the highest OOS tuition of any public university.  IU is an excellent school.  Regardless of where you go, as I think you already know, it is up to you to determine your own success.

Good luck and (have to say this) Go Blue!

ugli dude

September 17th, 2012 at 5:15 PM ^

As somone very interested in coffee, I appreciate Ann Arbor's coffee scene.

Ann Arbor's probably Michigan's place to be for quality coffee.

Maybe even in the Midwest, excluding Chicago, home of Intelligentsia the face company of the third wave coffee movement.

In regards to shops and tasting excellent coffee, these are my recommendations in order of excellence (my opinion) 

1. Espresso Bar in Kerrytown: opened in the spring, they serve excellent single origin espresso roasted by a Detroit roaster, Anthology coffee. Sandy, the co-owner is in my recommendation the top barista in Ann Arbor. He used to work at Coment coffee. They only serve espresso/espresso based drinks though.

2. Lab at Liberty St.: They serve Intelligentsia coffees as their main espresso, sometimes rotating different blends/single origins. Their pour overs are quite excellent also if you pick the right ones. My go to place for kind of close to campus-ish location.

3. Comet coffee: Probably the first of the third wave coffee shop that appeared in Ann Arbor around 2008(?). Had my first true "espresso" there pulled by the owner a few years ago and can not forget that experience. A very cute shop with very hipster baristas haha.

4. Ugly Mug: This is actually located in Ypsilanti but a quick 15 minutes drive from Ann Arbor. As far as I know they were the premiere third wave coffee shop of Michigan before the arrival of the Ann Arbor shops and Mad Cap of Grand Rapids, MI. Very funky interior but serve excellent coffee 

If you are more into getting loca roasted coffee beans as gifts, I would recommend Zingerman's. Their "#1 espresso blend" is quite good, not as good as the premiere artisan coffee roasters of the country maybe. Other choices include Mighty Good Coffee and also Roos Roast but was not impressed with either.

swan flu

September 17th, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

I fell in love with coffee in Ann Arbor.  Sweetwater, Zingermans, Roosroast...

But I have to say, I take offense to someone saying Ann Arbor is the best coffee scene in the midwest.  Milwaukee has 3 times as many local coffee roasters, and they do it with far less pretense and sell it cheaper than Ann Arbor.

Another reason that Milwaukee is the best kept secret in the midwest.


September 17th, 2012 at 5:52 PM ^

Thanks! I am just getting acquainted with everything that Bloomington has to offer, and I've had a hard time finding any place around here. There's a place called Sonoma here that I've been wanting to try. I am always looking for good local places, so I will definitely check these out too. I guess google is my friend when it comes to stuff like this, but like I said, it's always nice to here from locals! I will be checking out a lot of these places here in Bloomington now, I can always use good coffee.


September 17th, 2012 at 6:19 PM ^

Born in Michigan but raised in Indiana and attended IU. Bloomington's a great town. Any of my local knowledge is way out of date now, but I am sure you will find plenty of things you will like down there. My then girlfriend, now wife generally bought her coffee at the Bloomingfoods co-op. Aside from south Chicago Bloomington has the best quality pizza density of any place I've surveyed (obviously I'm not a fan of NYC-style), and the variety of food choices is really good for its size.


September 17th, 2012 at 6:51 PM ^

I love Sweetwaters Cafe's coffee, and you can buy it online: (http://www.sweetwaterscafe.com/)

I like Zingerman's, too, but Sweetwaters has two particular blends: 4|12 and Abianno, which are terrific. 

Michigan is really becoming a mecca for locally roasted beans. There are no fewer than half a dozen or so purveyors between Leelenau County and Mackinaw. Then there are several in the Grand Rapids area including Schuil and Ferris, and the dozen or more in and around Metro Detroit (to include Ann Arbor-based roasters).

One of the really great places I've found is in Plymouth, called "Espresso Elevado". They roast in-store in small batches. If you get a cup of coffee, they'll brew each cup separately using the uber-trendy "Chemex" method (a pour-over technique that produces an insanely smooth cup of coffee). 

Enjoy your coffee! I think I'll go make myself a cup as well....

Silly Goose

September 17th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

One nice thing about purchasing coffee at Sweetwaters is they have a Skyline Blend, which donates money to the athletic department of the newest high school in Ann Arbor bearing the same name. With all the cuts being made to high school athletics it is a nice thing for a local company to do.