Miguel Williams grew up in downtown Farmington. Now he’s opening a coffee shop there

There’s a new small business brewing in downtown Farmington, one that marries the city’s past with its future.

Work is underway at the former location of Tre Sorelle International Gifts and Home Decor, which has been temporarily shuttered to make way for a new coffee shop. Fans of the international arts and crafts store will be relieved to learn that it will reopen in a separate space accessible from within the coffee shop.

“We don’t want mass-produced coffee,” Williams says. “We want to take our time.”Owner-operator Miguel Williams expects a summer opening for Apothecary Espresso & Coffee. It’s an aggressive timeline, he says, but one buoyed by his confidence in the concept and the community.

“It’s getting exciting. When I mention it to people, it’s apparent that there’s a need for specialty coffee here. This is a huge opportunity to fulfill that need,” Williams says.

Apothecary has become Williams’s passion project. He’s tapped Ann Arbor’s Stovetop Roasters as the shop’s coffee roaster. The company has also served as consultant, advising Williams on flavor profiles, equipment, and even the layout of the space. In focusing on providing high-quality coffee, Williams says that he wants Apothecary to be known for doing one thing and doing it right.

His goal is to make downtown Farmington a destination for coffee lovers throughout the region.

“We’re in this to help improve downtown. We are excited for other coffee shops coming to the area and, you know, a rising tide lifts all boats. If people want a cup of coffee, I want Farmington to be where they think of coming,” Williams says.

“Whether it’s Apothecary or coffee shop A or coffee shop B, I think it benefits everyone.”

‘It’s all been downtown’

If Williams sounds like a champion of downtown Farmington, it’s because, well, he is one.

Miguel Williams has deep roots in the community. He was born and raised here, attended Our Lady of Sorrows school and church. His parents are business owners in the downtown community. His father first purchased a building downtown in 2005, where he opened the Williams Family and Sports Medical Center. His mother has two businesses in the same building, the temporarily shuttered Tre Sorelle and a medical consulting firm.

“I’ve spent most of my time growing up downtown. Most of my formative memories, the good times with my family, it’s all been downtown,” Williams says.

After leaving Farmington to attend Hope College, Williams would return after graduation in 2019. That’s not to say that he’s lived in a downtown bubble. Both of Williams’s parents have international backgrounds and he’s been fortunate to travel the world with them. His dad was born in Baton Rouge but grew up in Central and South America before returning to the United States for high school. His mother, born in Taiwan, was the daughter of an Argentinian diplomat.

Williams himself was spending some time in Buenos Aires, staying with family in the first few months of 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic sent him home. He’s back to working at his mother’s firm while he builds his own business, Apothecary Espresso & Coffee.

Williams became the youngest member of the DDA Board of Directors earlier this year at just 23 years old.It’s through his relationships with the family businesses that Williams became involved with the Farmington Downtown Development Authority. Starting as a volunteer, Williams would soon become the youngest member of the DDA Board of Directors earlier this year at just 23 years old.

“I feel like downtown has never been so lively. There is so much investment happening, so many developments,” he says. “There’s something in the air. We’re right on the verge of something big.”

And that’s not just youthful enthusiasm talking. Williams points to projects like The Syndicate social district, GLP Financial Group and their Farmington State Savings Bank, the Maxfield Training Center, and Farmington streetscape developments as examples of why people should be excited about downtown.

Williams believes that projects like these will only broaden downtown Farmington’s appeal.

“Farmington is not just a retirement town. It’s becoming a place where young people want to come to,” he says. “We’re starting to appeal to young people more effectively.”

’Come and stay awhile’

For all of his excitement about the future, Williams’s own business maintains some roots in the past. The name Apothecary is a nod to the family healthcare businesses. And the space itself used to be a pharmacy.

He wants to build a coffee shop that is as much a community gathering place as anything.

Inside the old Tre Sorelle storefront, which is soon to be transformed into Apothecary Espresso & Coffee“We don’t want mass-produced coffee. We want to take our time, to have a place where people want to come and stay while. Let’s get away from that ‘turn-and-burn’ model where it’s all about how many butts you can get in the seats in a day. The more I hear that term, the more I want to get away from it,” Williams says.

“I want a place where people spend a whole afternoon, where they come to read the paper and meet people and talk.

“We have the library in the morning and the bars at night but no happy in-between. I want to build that community.”

To accomplish that, Williams is working with the architects to build an outdoor seating, green space, and walking garden area. The interior will be warm and inviting. And once COVID-19 restrictions pass, he hopes to host live music, poetry, and art events to give people a reason to stay.

Of course, the coffee itself should play a critical role in getting people to stay, too. Williams credits Stovetop Roasters for that. There will be baked goods, perhaps from a local establishment, but the coffee will be the “number one star.”

“I want Apothecary to do coffee and to do coffee extremely well. I’m keeping my focus on coffee. Just focus on one thing and do it extremely well,” Williams says.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.