Autumn is a time for red and yellow blankets of leaves, crop harvest and, most importantly, coffee weather. There are few things as satisfying as sipping a cup of coffee — or a hot chocolate, if that’s your jam — while inside a coffee shop with fogged up windows surrounded by fellow coffee lovers. As you bundle up and prepare for the frigid chill of a Michiana winter, consider these cafés when looking for a place to warm your bones.
Clifford’s Coffee Canal
If you find yourself closer to the coast this autumn, make sure to stop into Clifford’s Coffee Canal in Benton Harbor.
Nature lovers will find themselves at home among the forest of plants inside of Clifford’s as the owners began their business ventures with plant nurseries. Many of the plants are available for purchase year-round.
“We want to create an environment for people to hang out with their family and friends,” says Mary Clifford, manager of the café. “We have things for the little guys and gals to do, too, like coloring books and games.”
The café offers a full coffee bar as well as a juice bar and a smoothie bar, including their popular drinks the Yosemite Cold Brew and the Mango Mania Smoothie.
In addition to its regular breakfast and lunch menu, Clifford’s will offer caramel apple cider, chili and tomato soup this fall.
Don’t worry about feeling cramped at Clifford’s; there’s plenty of seating inside, on the deck and on the roof. However, in the harsher winter months, Clifford’s will close for the season.
“If the weather is still nice, we let people hang out on the dock,” Clifford says. “This year, we’re going to try to stay open as long as possible.”
Clifford’s Coffee Canal is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. It’s located at 619 W. Main St. along the St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor.
Located in the heart of downtown South Bend, Chicory Café has been a hot spot to gather for coffee, food, music, games and talk for more than a decade.
“I like to think that we’re kind of a centerpiece of the downtown area in terms of downtown business and community support,” says Andrew Schreiber, general manager for Chicory Café. “We support the local music scene and (Downtown South Bend) First Fridays. We are leaders in the downtown dining alliance and participate in the wine walks and beers walks.”
Chicory sports New Orleans flair across the board: the coffee at the café is sourced from New Orleans roasters and the menu is full of Cajun fare such as gumbo, jambalaya, muffulettas and beignets.
Schreiber says you can expect to find pumpkin spice lattes on the menu this fall, and this winter you will find a favorite at Chicory, Frosty’s Favorite Hot Chocolate — white peppermint chocolate with crushed candy sprinkled on top. The café has a full coffee bar, so there will be something for everyone.
This winter, Schreiber says Chicory will be opening a brunch bar on Saturdays and Sundays that will include a bloody Mary bar and a build-your-own-Belgian-waffle bar.
Chicory Café is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. It is located at 105 E. Jefferson Blvd. in downtown South Bend.
Top Heavy Coffee
Top Heavy opened a year ago in downtown Niles, Michigan, and has seen robust business since.
“We were looking for a place to go to have a place for coffee and to chill (in Niles),” says Wendy Halder, co-owner of the café. “We were hoping people (in Niles) were looking for that too.”
The café has a full coffee bar, with coffee from Mad Cap in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and tea from Rishi Tea in Milwaukee.
“We always have our seasonal (coffee) menu up,” Halder says. “We’re working on some new drinks and hopefully bring back a favorite we didn’t have over the summer.”
You won’t find a full restaurant menu at Top Heavy, but you can satisfy your hunger (and your sweet tooth) with baked goods.
Halder says that Top Heavy also occasionally features music and special activities.
Top Heavy Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It’s located at 205 E. Main St. in downtown Niles.
Lucky coastal dwellers may also visit David’s Delicatessen and Coffee, a specialty coffee and sandwich shop in New Buffalo to get their java fix.
David’s offers a full coffee bar, hot apple cider, soups, pastries baked fresh daily, breakfast sandwiches and house-made pickles.
“We change our sandwich specials every few days, based on what’s available at the market that we work with,” says Emma Brewster, co-owner of the shop. “There’s always a vegan option.”
Brewster says that the house black coffee is popular, as is the cortado and the pour-over coffee. She suggests marking your calendar for the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day for the café’s popular Corned Beef-off, which features corned beef from more than a dozen different restaurants and suppliers.
David’s Delicatessen and Coffee is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday; 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It is located at 30 N. Whittaker St. in downtown New Buffalo.
La Place for Latte
It doesn’t get more homegrown that La Place for Latte. Co-owner Cheri LaPlace grew up in the Edwardsburg area and graduated from Edwardsburg High School, as did her husband and two daughters.
“Through college, I worked in a deli and enjoyed the catering aspect. I went to school for dental hygine and practiced for 10 years,” she says. “Edwardsburg didn’t have a coffee shop, so I wanted to give it a shot.”
Ten years after opening the café, it’s safe to say La Place has given the coffee shop a double shot of espresso.
The café offers a full coffee bar as well as a smoothie bar. This fall, coffee lovers may expect to find three different types of pumpkin lattes, toasted marshmallow hot chocolate and white mocha, and caramel apple spice.
La Place offers made-to-order breakfast items and sandwiches for lunch and offers baked goods from The Country Bake Shop.
La Place for Latte is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. It’s located at 25990 U.S. 12 just east of downtown Edwardsburg
Photography by Emily Sobecki