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Drifter Coffee Floats Into Permanent Ferndale Space

The cafe arrives this spring

Drifter Coffee founder Alleah Webb at the site of her upcoming brick-and-mortar cafe space in Fendale.
Courtesy of Alleah Webb
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Mobile caffeine caboose Drifter Coffee is preparing to go brick-and-mortar in Ferndale this year. The roving coffee trailer founded by Alleah Webb in 2015 recently had its plans approved by the city of Ferndale for a location in the burgeoning Iron Ridge District development.

Webb tells Eater she’s leased a 1,600-square-foot, two-story building at 780 Woodward Heights, not far from Urbanrest Brewing Company and Farm Field Table. With help from Five/Eighths Architecture (the designers of Voyager and upcoming Lovers Only), she plans to add a greenhouse-style structure at the back of the building with year-round seating and space for Drifter’s new coffee roasting program.

Webb says she was in the market for a cafe space when she first learned about the Iron Ridge District project, which spans a triangular stretch from the 696 freeway down to Nine Mile along the train tracks on the east side of Ferndale. “It seemed like it was a really good opportunity and I live just around the corner so that was a plus,” Webb says of the location.

An early drawing of the permanent Drift Coffee shop.
Courtesy of Five/Eighths Architecture

The new Drifter Coffee will seat roughly 40 to 45 patrons, with a coffee bar on the first floor and a cozier seating area “that makes you want to stay a while with lots of sunlight and lots of plants all over the place” on the second floor, Webb says. The shop will feature a neutral color palette with pops of bright colors — particularly Drifter’s signature turquoise.

On the menu, customers can expect to find a full complement of espresso beverages with homemade syrups as well as smoothies and kombucha on tap. Webb says she’s also planning to offer food such as bagel sandwiches, salads, soups, and baked goods (some sourced from local purveyors and others made in-house).

Drifter is currently planning to start construction on March 1 in hopes of opening by the end of May or early June.

Webb plans to keep the original caboose on hand for events but says she’s welcoming the prospect of staying in one place for a while. “It’s a hustle. I’m really looking forward to planting my roots.”

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Drifter Coffee

780 Woodward Heights, Ferndale, MI