coffee and bagel
The “encarnacion” drink and an everything bagel with cream cheese, pickled onions, and garnished with mint, at Encarnacion, 8016 Kercheval Ave. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

This week the doors opened and coffee flowed freely at new Detroit coffee shops in Corktown and West Village. BridgeDetroit went to check them out, drinking too much coffee in the process.

The additions mean Detroit now has 94 coffee shops, up from 51 in 2015, according to Alex B. Hill, a researcher and cartographer in Detroit.

inside Alba coffee shop in Detroit
Alba opened in the space of the former Astro Coffee on Michigan Ave. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

Alba– Corktown 

2124 Michigan Ave. 

Specialty drink: the cafe de olla, made with Mexican coffee, spices like anise and cinnamon, raw, dark sugar, and creamer or sweetened condensed milk. 

This coffee shop opened in the former space of Astro Coffee, which closed in 2022 after operating for more than a decade. Co-founder of Alba, David Valdez, worked at Astro when he first moved to Detroit in 2018, which introduced him to the city and the community. 

David Valdez behind the counter
David Valdez, co-founder of the new Alba coffee shop, 2124 Michigan Ave. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

“Astro was such a cool spot and played a huge, important role in a lot of people’s lives especially here in Detroit in Corktown,” said Valdez. “It’s not just a cafe, this space kind of goes beyond that,” he said about Alba. “We’ll make good drinks, but I want it to be almost like an experience, as cheesy as it sounds.” 

‘Alba’ means sunrise or dawn in both Italian and Spanish, the native languages of Valdez and co-founder Carlo Liburdi, owner of The Kiesling and Milwaukee Caffe in Milwaukee-Junction. 


“We’re trying to pay homage to our heritage,” Valdez said about the cafe. Valdez is from Mexico while Liburdi is Italian. 

The renovated space has a lot of nods to its history and was built with local designers including Line Studio, Woodward Throwbacks, Teikaut and Sultan Signs. 

This week Alba is having a soft opening with just espresso drinks, but Valdez and Liburdi are planning to soon serve a small food menu including an egg sandwich and gluten-free coffee cake, and eventually gelato, all made in-house. 

The hours of operation are Mon – Fri 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sat – Sun 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Encarnacion– West Village 

people at Encarnacion coffee
Neighborhood resident Dan Ngoyi stopped in Encarnacion for coffee Tuesday morning. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker) 

8016 Kercheval Ave. 

Specialty drink: the encarnacion, made with espresso, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and steamed milk. 

For the last several years Robert Encarnacion has been renovating this house on Kercheval to transform it into Encarnacion, a cafe, and soon-to-be casual Latin dining restaurant. 

“We are trying to keep it as Latin American infused as possible,” said Encarnacion, who is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved to Detroit in 2019. 

Encarnacion brought on chef Mauro Gonzalez, originally from Venezuela and raised in Puerto Rico, whose signature dish for the cafe is a Cuban sandwich, to build out the food menu.

two people posing for a picture
Chef Mauro Gonzalez (left) and owner of Encarnacion, Robert Encarnacion. (BridgeDetroit photo by Jena Brooker)

In the next several months they plan to expand within their space, selling Latin-American street food like rice bowls, tacos. 

Everything is made in-house except for the bread and bagels from the Detroit Institute of Bagels. 

Dan Ngoyi, chief executive officer at Rocket Connections, grew up in the neighborhood. He stopped by Encarnacion on Tuesday morning for some coffee. 

“It’s great to see new places in the neighborhood,” he said “Even over the last three or four years to see everything that’s happening both here on Kercheval and on Agnes has been awesome.” 

The hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Jena is a BridgeDetroit's environmental reporter, covering everything from food and agricultural to pollution to climate change.

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