Detroit’s Astro Coffee quietly closed its Corktown location amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but now a new coffee shop will rise in its place.
Alba Coffee will host a soft opening in Astro’s former home next week. The new spot promises “exceptional coffee experiences” and “thoughtfully prepared” drinks including matcha, hot cocoa, herbal teas, and an affogato featuring house-made gelato.
The cafe was founded by David Valdez, former manager of Milwaukee Caffe, and Carlo Liburdi, co-owner of Milwaukee Caffe and Kiesling, both in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood. Alba, which means “sunrise,” or “dawn” in Spanish and Italian, will be a fusion of its owners’ Mexican and Italian heritages.
The coffee and the interior design will both be inspired by cultures around the world, as well as the city of Detroit. The space was renovated with help from local designers and builders including Line Studio, Woodward Throwbacks, Teikaut, and Sultan Signs.
Alba’s commitment to the community includes supporting local as well as ethical sourcing, according to a press release. Its house espresso will be roasted locally by Anthology Coffee, and a rotating selection of bags for home brewing will be offered from roasters across the country.
“Speciality coffee can be perceived as intimidating. I want to change that with Alba,” Valdez said in a statement. “Whether you’re just popping in for a quick caffeine fix, looking for an excuse to nerd out with the barista over our latest pour-over options, or know nothing about coffee and want to discover something new, Alba’s here for all of that.”
Liburdi, meanwhile, is passionate about the grab-and-go model of specialty coffee, which was inspired by his years living in New York.
“You don’t always have time to indulge in a drawn-out coffee experience,” Liburdi said. “Sometimes you just want to grab a cup of coffee on your way to work or knock back an espresso and be on your way. Alba offers both.”
For Valdez, Alba’s home has a special place in his heart, as working at Astro was his first job in Detroit and where he had early conversations about opening his own cafe someday.
“I know I’m not alone in having truly significant memories in this space,” Valdez said. “It’s our goal to continue that legacy, to make Alba more than just a coffee shop; it’s a place where we create meaningful connections, share laughs, and support one another.”Astro Coffee first opened in Corktown in 2011. In 2019, its owners opened a second location in the Core City neighborhood, which closed in May 2022.