Ohio knows how to do coffee well: roasting it, serving it and experimenting with it. Whenever we travel around the state, we always find a local coffee shop to fuel our explorations. It’s an excellent starting point for the day’s adventurous. I love asking baristas where they like to eat, hang out and explore.
Ghostlight Coffee in Dayton
Ghostlight is a wonderful hybrid shop, one that appeals to both coffee nerds and the casual caffeine-seeking crowd. They pull their coffee beans from different roasters around the Midwest (including Cincinnati’s prolific Deeper Roots); I love how they brag on their roasters for producing such great roasts. The historic location in South Park heightened my desire to hang out there all day long, taking in the old storefront, the wooden floors and brick walls, and the artwork hung around the space. You seriously could sit there all day, sampling pour overs and tea and the occasional espresso, then taking in some live music in the evening.
Rising Star Coffee in Cleveland
Rising Star has three shops plus a roasting facility in Cleveland, and one of my favorites is the original location in the old Ohio City Firehouse (I love that whole neighborhood). Rising Star roasts their own beans, with a focus on organic coffees. Stepping into the shop, you get that lovely whiff of rich espresso, the kind of smell that makes you want to stay all day sipping cup after cup. You can certainly do that, but coffee also makes for a good starting point. I love beginning a day of exploring Ohio City – the West Side Market, Great Lakes Brewing Company, everything – with a shot of espresso from Rising Star.
One Line Coffee in Columbus
The folks at One Line are the nicest. I’ll just start by saying that. Not to say that baristas at other coffee shops aren’t welcoming. It’s just that the One Line crew has always shown a genuine interest in helping their guests fall in love with coffee. I’ve stood near the espresso machine waiting for a drink and listened to baristas discuss the optimal serving temperature of milk in their espresso drinks, all with the goal of creating the best experience possible for their customers. That just heightens my love of their cappuccinos, their sweet honey latte, and their simply amazing Kyoto cold drip coffee. The Kyoto coffee is a slow drip technique that takes twelve hours to make; the result is an intense but remarkably clean coffee that’s served over ice, like a cocktail.
Donkey Coffee in Athens
Before we made our first trip to Athens ever, everyone suggested starting the day at Donkey Coffee (and then returning later in the day). It was a good thing, too, because it was a chilly November day, and a little espresso and hot chocolate went a long way. The coffee shop seems small when you first step inside, but as you explore you’ll find one room leads to another, with little nooks and crannies full of tables, chairs and couches for reading, studying, or just catching up with a friend. (There’s even an upstairs!) The back room of Donkey Coffee is a small music venue, so you can return in the evenings for concerts and other performances.
Collective Espresso in Cincinnati
Tucked down a side street, Collective Espresso‘s Over-the-Rhine location is a one-room coffee haven. We stopped in there on a freezing January morning, but the coffee shop was oozing with warmth and welcome. It feels like a little hidden gem in a neighborhood full of hidden gems. The barista asked what I was in the mood for, and that morning the answer was a cappuccino and a cortado (an espresso cut with milk). As I waited for the drinks, the barista chatted with sleepy regulars who lined the counters. I strolled around the creaky wooden floors and looked through the beans and coffee equipment. Then, with drinks in hand, we headed out for a day exploring the Queen City.