Tuesday, December 9, 2014

@ Rising Star Coffee Roasters in Cleveland's Little Italy

Hold The Coffee returns to another Rising Star Coffee Roasters this week--its second and far more spacious shop that is.

If you look closely enough at Amy's pants, she is indeed
wearing printed sailor anchors. It's the new fashion
symbol these days.
I reviewed Rising Star's home shop in Ohio City this past spring with Devon Turchan, and although I was blown away by the shop's vibe, location and friendly baristas, I think everyone agrees it lacks room for a group of friends to harbor inside from a snowstorm or work in a quiet space.  ("I can direct you to a homeless shelter, Simon," says Matt, my editing boyfriend.  He has more uses than editing, mind you.) That's why I was super excited when Rising Star opened its Little Italy shop at 2187 Murray Hill Road in early October. Using my unscientific counting ability, I estimate the Little Italy shop has four times the seating as its Ohio City home.

News-Herald colleague and friend, Amy Popik, joined me on a visit to the shop Saturday, Nov. 22. It was her first visit to the shop, and my second. (I made a third visit this past weekend, but lets not get into that yet.)

Location: Sitting inside a three-story mixed-use apartment building at the corner of Cornell/Edgehill and Murray Hill roads, Rising Star's shop is something to celebrate. It's in a pretty dense part of the neighborhood with a bike shop, a bed and breakfast, and a couple of restaurants only steps away. But it's also not crazily congested like nearby Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue.

A new Rising Star sign had been installed on the buildings
industrial awning since this Nov. 22 photo was shot.
Don't be fooled by the parking lot behind the building--that's only for residents upstairs. As anything in University Circle and Little Italy, finding street parking isn't easy. That's why I nowadays use RTA's Healthline or Redline via Route 30 to get to the neighborhood from my apartment in Euclid. (Hopefully, that'll be easier when or if the transit agency expands rapid through Collinwood and Euclid.) I would've forced Amy to tag along with me in a public transit adventure, but she was on her way to Parma to see her boyfriend so she settled on driving. She somehow managed to find a parking space only a couple blocks away.

Food and Beverage: Rising Star focuses its time on serving mostly coffee, with baked good like cookies and bagels on the side. That's the way it should be considering how many eateries are nearby. After our visit, Amy and I got lunch at Algebra Tea House, which, despite focusing on the tea side of things, deserves its own blog post here.

At Rising Star that Saturday, I ordered a house coffee and a sea salt bagel with cheddar-chive cream cheese for $6 and change. I meant to save Amy part of my bagel, but I arrived 40 minutes earlier than she and I lacked enough self-control to keep it on my plate for that long. I couldn't even nurse my coffee. Instead, I just ordered another round of coffees for Amy and I at $7 and change when she arrived. (Sadly, there's no discount on refills.)

Just like the one in Ohio City, this Rising Star includes
some of the best presentation of coffee. It made me second
guess once on whether to order a coffee to go.
The menu of coffee and espresso at Rising Star is rather sophisticated, highlighting the coffee bean origins and other attributes. This and the Ohio City shop definitely belong on a coffee trail, if Cleveland had one. For anyone like me who dilutes coffee with sweetener, cream and milk and doesn't know what they really like, it's a good idea to ask the barista for suggestions.

Space and Atmosphere: The Little Italy shop's seating does more than allow people to camp out, work and socialize indoors. Rising Star staff has also used it to host coffee/roasting/cupping workshops. Over the last couple of months, my newsroom's travel editor has passed me two press releases about upcoming workshops there. (I didn't even know independent coffee shops produce press releases.)

The larger space isn't the only difference between Rising Star's Little Italy and Ohio City shop. The new place has more of a cozy and less industrial vibe, too--with a more subdued color pallet and dimmer lighting. My favorite part of the place is certainly the three low bar stool counters that surround the barista station and the building's central brick column.

It's hard to covertly sneak in photos of the place when
so many baristas work at the shop. All three times I've visited
I've seen four people working here.
The Little Italy shop is still very new to the neighborhood, but it's already grown into a popular spot for workers, residents and tourists. On my latest visit Sunday, the shop's seating was nearly filled up by the time I left for lunch. I am not an economics professor, but I would point to that as an example of how increasing supply also increases demand.  ("Actually, that's not how supply and demand works at all, but you're still really cool and I find your optimism extraordinarily endearing," says Matt.)

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via email--shusted@news-herald.com--or on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.


  1. Just to let you know, the Hingetown shop is slated for a make over in the first part of 2015. We are moving the roasting to a new facility.

  2. Wow a blog on coffee places ear me. Doesnt get better than that, now I know where to go to get my coffee fix without getting worried about the place. Love it