|Brilliant! Those two just know how to model a photo.|
I often brush my shoulder every time I see a blog or news website post a "Top # coffeehouses in Cleveland." Part of my angst is tied to what is often a failed effort at naming each coffee shop within Cleveland's urban foot print. More importantly, however, I am tired of seeing authors grouping different shops together under the shared brand--namely Pheonix's four locations, Erie Island's two shops and Rising Star's two shops. Sure, all of those locations serve the same branded coffee, but they often have different baristas, roasters, furniture, space design, and menu offerings. To me, they're more like independent coffee shops that share a license with the same roaster.
The most hideous offense is when a writer tries to group an unclear number of local coffee shops under the "Arabica" name. Yes, it is a Euclid-based company that roasts beans and licenses coffee shops (seemingly across the globe), but the existing Arabica shops I know between Parma Heights, Downtown Willoughby and Chester Township are thinly tied to one another and have enormous differences. It's a mystery of what really is an Arabica Coffee House because the business' corporate website doesn't even list the locations.
In the third hour of our visit, a large group of period-dressed
cyclists called "Cleveland Tweed Ride," visited. It was pretty
sweet, but at that point, we knew it was time to wrap up our
Opened this past August, I had only been to the shop once before with Matt and our friend Kristen soon after it opened. Not too much had changed since then--which is a very good thing.
Location: I'll be quick about what makes Ohio City such a great place to visit: It has its own Red Line rail station; it's a quick bike ride away from downtown; it has historic homes that date back to when the neighborhood was its own municipality, and housing and business are densely packed with few parking lots and even few private driveways--making it ideal for a live-work-play vibrancy. But there's also downsides. The neighborhood, specifically West 25th Street, is noisy and congested with cars and tourists visiting the West Side Market and Great Lakes Brewing Company.
The baristas pour the Nitro Toddy in the tall, beer-style glass.
That's another attractive feature of ordering a Nitro Toddy
Food and Beverage: Thinking strategically ahead, Andrew, Matt and I filled up on Ohio City Burrito before we visited Phoenix. Andrew still ordered a chocolate-chip cookie when we got there though. (The baristas do on-site baking, so it was a yummy decision on Andrew's part.)
Matt and I ordered a cup of pour-over coffee (the shop is exclusively pour-over, unlike its sister shops) and a Nitro Toddy for $6 and change. The Nitro Toddy is their cold brew coffee infused with liquid nitrogen or something I am clearly not qualified to explain. All that matters is that we absolutely loved the Nitro Toddy. Matt and I ordered two more throughout our visit.
I have to say, Phoenix coffee shops have some of the best
bar stool areas I have ever seen.
Since I got outed, I gave a true effort in being a real coffee connoisseur. That means I held off on mixing any milk or creamer in my mug and I only used raw sugar as sweetener. Surprisingly, I drank the coffee with no problem. (I am still a ways off from drinking coffee black though.)
Space and Atmosphere: Like all Phoenixes, the Ohio City shop has a great bar stool area, terrific community art, and uses an eclectic mixture of colors and materials throughout the space.
Matthew and Andrew burned through topics like how to deal
with ISIS to the distinction between muffins and cupcakes.
Despite the chilly temperatures, that Saturday was a great day to drink some Nitro Toddies outside. The patio is enough to persuade someone to move to the attached apartment building. Not surprisingly, they're all leased out.
Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter at @SimonGH_Says.