Rachel Rosenthal, Kenny Showler, Adam Magy and Gasana Theophile
Rachel Rosenthal, Kenny Showler, Adam Magy and Gasana Theophile

Berkley Coffee is a welcoming and inclusive space to gather.

Seeing the Berkley Coffee staff at work, there is no denying they are masters of a craft. Rachel Rosenthal, the coffee shop manager, loves feeding people and sharing the world one beverage at a time.

Rosenthal, born in Jerusalem, moved to Michigan eight years ago. Today, she and her family call Oak Park home. Rosenthal’s career started with AISH. She specialized in Jewish outreach and education for adults and young families. Bringing people together and creating space for meaningful growth and bonds are the anchors of her life work. These are also sacrosanct to her work at Berkley Coffee.

Attracted to the Berkley Coffee mission to slow down with intentionality, wonder and exploration were just one part of the coffee shop’s appeal. “I felt like I was walking into someone’s home,” recalls Rosenthal of her first time entering Berkley Coffee. At the time, Rosenthal was working for Fresh Collective Kitchen and Market where Berkley Coffee sources its sandwiches.

That first time, Rosenthal entered through the East Room, also known as the Quiet Room. She was in awe of the quality, care and detail of the space. The space caters to young children and individuals seeking to enjoy their coffee without music. The coloring books, Rosenthal recalls, are the type she would invest in for her own children.

Rosenthal shares one powerful business choice of Berkley Coffee: to offer the full bar-music-gathering experience and be fully non-alcoholic.

The Berkley Coffee mission statement reads: “Our non-alcoholic bar exists to encourage consciousness, life balance and appreciation of all those other ingredients shadowed by ethanol in most ‘adult beverages.’ For the full spectrum of strictly sober to struggling alcoholic, we exist for you to enjoy well-considered, often complex/challenging adult drinks devoid of the negative impacts of alcohol.”

Rosenthal takes great pride that Berkley Coffee is not your typical coffee shop minimalist music space. The absolute opposite. Kenny Showler, the owner and creative force behind Berkley Coffee, studied sound design at Michigan Technological University and honed his skills working at theme parks and museums around the globe.

Berkeley Coffee is a top-of-the-line music performance space. The venue regularly hosts talent of all ages, offering everything from open mics on Thursdays to a monthly student expo series for AIM High School.

Pedro Meadows performing on Thursday night open stage at Berkley Coffee.
Pedro Meadows performing on Thursday night open stage at Berkley Coffee. Yevgeniya Gazman | Detroit Jewish News

Rosenthal said Showler’s top goal is creating and nurturing the growth of Berkley Coffee as a community center — a welcoming and inclusive space to gather and explore and thrive.

Showler also made the conscious choice to invest in his employees. The full-time staff are on salary and the part-time staff are paid a living wage. All tips collected go toward supporting the musicians who perform at Berkley Coffee.

Berkley Coffee opened in April 2022. As part of its central goals of inclusivity and being a welcoming community center for all, Showler decided to close the shop on at least one major holiday of each community of faith.

Showler’s ironic humor pervades the space, from the sign on the bathroom stall, “PLEASE DO NOT WRITE ON THIS” to the sign directly across above a bunch of markers, “Do not write on it with these;” and the advisory notice with skull, bones and a cup of coffee, “Coffee Snobs Ye Be Warned.”

The sign on the bathroom stall
The sign on the bathroom stall Yevgeniya Gazman | Detroit Jewish News

All the coffee beans and chocolate at Berkley Coffee are single origin. Signs on each tube of fresh beans provide details on the country of origin as well as flavor notes and other nuggets of information to pique your curiosity and enhance your global journey one sip at a time. Are you in the mood for a mocha? Every ingredient can be customized by you, with the curated genius, upon request, of the Berkley Coffee staff.

And if you enjoy some nosh with your hot beverage of choice, Jerusalem Bagels are available six days a week, and NY Bagels every Saturday. And if bagels are not your jam, grab some Stroop Club stroopwafels or a Raaka chocolate.

Berkley Coffee is also available for private events and group meetings. From The Well’s Taste of Sukkot collaboration with Zingerman’s to a weekly AA meeting, Berkley Coffee aims to be a space where connections are made, community blossoms and all feel welcome, seen and satisfied from the belly to the soul.

Berkley Coffee is at 14661 W. 11 Mile Road in Oak Park.

Previous articleNext Dor: Germany Up Close
Next articleHere’s To – January 2023