Monday, May 12, 2014

@ Coffee Proper in Lakewood

Hold the Coffee returns to Lakewood to review another local coffee shop on Detroit Avenue--this one hardly even a mile west from the last coffee shop I featured in the city. (I wish Euclid/Cleveland's east side/Lake County had these many neighborhood coffee shops nearby.)

This photo should definitely jump-start Andrew's 
modeling career.
On our way to a Lakewood house party Saturday, May 3, News-Herald reporter Andrew Cass and I made a stop at Coffee Proper, an espresso bar and tea lounge at 17823 Detroit Ave. We needed to fuel up on caffeine before we started our two-hour marathon of Cards Against Humanity, and most importantly, I was eager to try an unfamiliar neighborhood coffee shop on the west side.

Location: Coffee Proper's location isn't very different from what I wrote about in my blog post of Root Cafe, also the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. There's a lot of mixed-use buildings with dense housing and a total lack of frontal parking spaces. 

What's different with Coffee Proper than your typical Lakewood coffee shop is that is connects right inside to the Beck Center for the Arts--something I admittedly knew nothing about until my visit Saturday with Andrew.

Table art is included in the price, I assume.
I actually asked the barista at the counter if Coffee Proper had an expanded art gallery in the back. How embarrassing.

Food and Beverage: News-Herald Reporter Liz Lundblad introduced me to Coffee Proper's existence and website a few months ago. Not all coffee shops post their menus and prices online, but Coffee Proper does, and both Liz and I were a bit taken a back by the numbers. A six-ounce Latte for $4? Yikes! No matter what you order, you're going to at least spend $3 on coffee. It's like buying desk tchotchkes at an art museum.

I later noticed that Coffee Proper contracts its roasting with Rising Star Coffee--a popular local roaster with premium-level prices. I guess that's the justification.

I asked everyone to clear the room beforehand. Haha. 
Just kidding
That Saturday, I ordered a large iced coffee (which I can only assume was somewhere around 12 ounces) for $5 and Andrew ordered a pour-over coffee for $3. I also purchased a Yawp bar for $3.

I was a bit disappointed by the selection of sweeteners. Coffee Proper seemingly doesn't support the artificial stuff, nor does it offer Stevia. On Saturday I had the choice of unbleached sugar or "simple syrup." Considering my terrible relationship with unbleached sugar in the past, I sided on trying simple syrup. (I was relieved to find no chunks of sweetener at the bottom of the glass, but it still wasn't as good as my dear Stevia.)

Space and Atmosphere: Coffee Proper's interior includes more than four-digit-priced wall art. It has a waterfall mounted on a wall beside its counter, wooden flooring, and plenty of ceiling and natural lighting.

Three photos featuring Andrew? He should feel so lucky.
What blew my head out of the sky, however, was the arcade machine sitting near the entrance of the shop. It was a small table unit with approximately 60 different arcade games like Pac-Man. The unit even had an option for two-player modes.

What blew Andrew's as well as my minds even more was the pile of quarters laying near the machine. Andrew counted more than $5 of quarters. We didn't ask questions, but I would like to think Coffee Proper's staff left the quarters for patrons to play. If so, that's deserving of a good-Samaritan award.

There was no way Andrew and I were going to pass up a chance of playing Pac-Man. I gave a valiant attempt at beating the game--as soon as I quickly figured out that the goal in the game is to avoid the ghost avatars, not chase them. Andrew's valiant attempt ended far shorter. He lost all three of his Pac-Man's lives within a minute, but he'll tell you I am exaggerating and it was actually four minutes.

And through that back hallway is the Beck Center, I learned.
There's no way around it: Coffee Proper is pricey, too pricey for my earning power anyway. But it has plenty of attractions that separate it from the competition, and if I was suggesting profound sites for first dates in Cleveland, Coffee Proper would be one of a few topping the list.

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via email--shusted@news-herald.com--or on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

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