Coffee Houses of the Miami Valley
By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
No matter how much you love your home and your job, everyone needs a place to go to develop and nurture a sense of community. For many, these “third places” are bars or barbershops or bowling alleys. Thanks to the ‘90s explosions of Starbucks and “Friends,” America has now added coffee houses to their third place options. When it comes to finding our third place, we’re all Goldilocks, looking for a space that’s just right. When a coffee house is vying to be your third place, it must satisfy your need for accessibility and proximate location, present a price stratum that lines up with your resources and create a space that you find comfortable. DCP has developed a guide to help you along your journey to find your own third place.
10 W. Main St.
Owners Joe and Laurie Reiser have traveled the world selecting the best coffee to serve at their coffee and chocolate shops. The menu offers a variety of espresso drinks, and there’s always the option to add something sweet from their glass cases filled with fine chocolates, all made in Piqua, Ohio. Their shop in the square of downtown Troy has several chairs and small tables and direct access to the lounge area of the building it resides in.
Night Sky Coffee House and Eatery
18 N. Market St.
Night Sky has garnered the reputation of being “The Spot” to hang out during the day. Not only do they offer buffets and a full menu, they boast having some of the best desserts in the city. An ample supply of tables, chairs and couches provides plenty of seating for the packed house they get on Saturday nights for their live music. The coffee menu is extensive and is one of the few in Ohio that offers an extra layer of flavor to their drinks by using flavored coffee beans in addition to flavored syrups for premium beverages. Many of their coffees are from Coffee Break in Cincinnati, but they source from many others including Batdorf and Bronson in Atlanta, notable for supplying the Dancing Goat blend. “It’s probably the only coffee that’s as good cold!” said manager Dave Pottenger.
Grounds for Pleasure
115 E. Main St.
Open in this location for more than seven years, Grounds for Pleasure has found ways to ingratiate itself into its community and in doing so has been able to skip over any so-called “slow season” that may plague other coffee houses. “We were open during the Winter Gathering to welcome in the holiday season,” said barista Grace Farmer. “We have live music throughout the year and offer seasonal drinks to keep people coming in during the warmer times of the year.” The place is stuffed with over-stuffed chairs and has plenty of nooks and crannies to settle into, giving a moderate amount of privacy in a public space. Espresso drinks rule the menu, the most popular of which are the Raspberry Truffle and the Snickers.
8321 N. Main St. (next to Cassano’s)
A Dayton original and one of the few roasters in the Miami Valley, Boston Stoker has aptly adapted to coffee house culture from its origins as a cigar shop. Opened originally in Englewood, they now have locations all over the Miami Valley. Each location has a slightly different vibe, but all offer comfortable and plentiful seating in a non-rushed atmosphere. The vast and varied menu offers everything from straight shots to the biggest, baddest flavored energy charge you can conceive.
The Ohio Coffee Co.
1 S. Main St. (Fifth Third Center)
Formerly located on the corner of Fifth and Ludlow Streets, The Ohio Coffee Co. now resides in Fifth Third Center, nestled at the foot of the central staircase. An ideal lunch destination, they offer baked goods, sandwiches and soups made from scratch. They have an extensive coffee and tea menu with some signature drinks, markedly “The Big Lebowski,” which makes as close an approximation to The Dude’s cocktail as one can get in an alcohol-free establishment.
257 Wayne Ave.
Owners Brett and Janell Barker have lived, worked, trained, eaten, slept and breathed coffee all over the world in an effort to experience the upper echelon of coffee drinking. Press shares all the experience that has educated the Barkers and will continually improve their product as coffee culture evolves. Great care is taken in the training of their baristi, specifically in developing the art of texturizing milk, a steaming method that brings out the optimal creaminess and sweetness. A streamlined space adorned with a rotating gallery of local art, comfy chairs are sacrificed for being able to offer an affordable yet sophisticated cup of coffee. A few nibbles are available, all baked by Brett’s mother, Debi.
1201 Wayne Ave.
Big windows and soft lights and warm, re-purposed wood all make Ghostlight Coffee about as inviting a place as you can find. Coffees and teas from Deeper Roots, MadCap and Northbound adorn the menu, and baked goods from Thistle Confections and Sweet Nothings tempt from the counter. Look for special late hours on nights they play host to musical guests, occasions as intimate as your own living room gatherings.
Eclipse Coffee and Tea
2841 Wilmington Pike (between La Rosa’s and Frisch’s)
New kid on the block Eclipse opened earlier this year amid massive construction on Wilmington Pike in Kettering. “I thought this area really needed a place like this,” said owner Wesley Crick. A long room with high ceilings, Crick has created cozy corners by putting up low false walls to tuck in couches and lamps and let everyone make the space their own. Crick has also installed a Wii, which he has found can keep children occupied while their parents get work done on laptops. Simple breakfast and lunch sandwiches are available, as are pastries from Ashley’s in Oakwood.
Heather’s Coffee & Café
505 S. Main St.
Heather’s is reminiscent of a bar you might find in Europe, offering gourmet coffee alongside local beer and wine. Also offered is a full menu for breakfast and lunch and pastries from Cake Diva. Finding a space to sit isn’t nearly so difficult as choosing one as Heather’s has a parlor, several sitting rooms, rooms upstairs and an expansive, multi-tiered patio where one can enjoy live music in the summer.
10-B Parker Dr. (shares the building with Watkins Heating & Cooling)
Jumpstart Java is the result of Lisa Watkins saying to her husband, Randy, “Wouldn’t it be fun if you had a coffee cart in your showroom?” Randy more than obliged and put an addition on the existing Watkins Heating & Cooling building. This space, bright and charming, looks in on Randy’s showroom and also has patio seating out in front. The Watkins have been all over the world learning their additional trade and have brought back the latest in espresso technology. The Christian-based business also offers tokens of hope and affirmation. “We’re kind of a ministry as well,” said barista Randi King, who has become so gifted at her craft, she can create a likeness of the Taj Mahal in the foam of your cappuccino.
26 N. West St. (just north past Valero)
BellHOP Café is a community coffee house where everyone is welcome. “It’s about relationships,” said owner Heather Sabin of the atmosphere she and husband, Mike, have created in their Christian-based space. Their menu features homemade soups and sandwiches and coffee from Stoney Creek Roasters in Cedarville.
Stoney Creek Roasters
85 N. Main St.
Built along Massie’s Creek and just off the Ohio-to-Erie bike trail, Stoney Creek Roasters has established itself as a go-to for locally roasted coffee in the Miami Valley. The recently-added ice cream shop and back patio overlooking the creek have added to the draw of this family-owned and operated business.
65 N. Main St. (corner of Routes 42 and 72)
Beans-N-Cream is the place to go if you need a beverage and somewhere to studiously apply yourself. Coffees and teas and small bites to eat blanket the menu. The spacious main room lofts into an open balcony, both with abundant seating and tables. A small stage hosts live music in the evenings.
117 S. Fountain Ave.
A world-conscious company located in the old municipal building, Un Mundo strives to make the world a better place with every business decision that it makes. Vintage tables and comfortable chairs line the length of the room, and vaulted ceilings and high windows let in an uplifting amount of light. Choose from a variety of socially-responsible coffees and teas, and feast on breakfast sandwiches and paninis if the mood strikes you.
1111 N. Plum St., Suite #1 (next to Burger King)
This petite coffee house tucked in a strip of businesses on the north side of Springfield offers Crimson Cup coffee from Columbus and California Suncakes from the Healthy Baking Company.
The Spirited Goat
118 Dayton St.
Deriving its name from the mythical Ethiopian goats that showed Man the way to simulated intelligence, The Spirited Goat was opened by Michael Harrington a year ago in the space formerly occupied by Brother Bear. A new artist is featured every month on the walls of the airy space, and the menu offers a bevy of your favorite forms of battery acid, as well as soups and baked goods.
225 Xenia Ave.
Friendly and cozy – if a bit unwieldy – in its décor, Dino’s has become establishment in Yellow Springs over the past decade and a half. The extensive espresso menu provides patrons with more options than they could shake a stick at, and baked goods are available at the counter.
The Underdog Café
233 Xenia Ave. (inside Emporium Wines)
Not the place to go if you require flavored coffee or espresso, but if you’re looking for a good cup of coffee and a place to sprawl out and converse with thy neighbor, The Underdog Café is the place for you. Owner Kurt Miyazaki has created a realm where personal and public space collide, the result being the intoxicating vibe of the table and chair-laden corridor adjacent to Emporium Wines. If coffee and conversation aren’t enough, come for the delicious homemade soups.
Expressions Coffee House
313 W. Main St.
Expressions is all about the music (and some about the coffee, which comes from Boston Stoker) and features live music almost every night of the week with no cover charge. Soups and sandwiches festoon the menu alongside Expressions Coffee House original drinks, such as the Writer’s Desk, which contains a stimulating five shots of espresso. In addition to the open front room and all of its seating, owner Bill Bohrer also offers a back room for meetings free of charge, under the condition that drinks are purchased from the coffee bar, of course.
If you’re looking for…
…a place to stay all day, to eat and drink and work and hear live music, try Night Sky Coffee House and Eatery in Troy.
…a cup of coffee that will open your palette to the best of what the world has to offer, try Press in the Oregon District.
…perhaps a cup of coffee, but maybe a glass of wine, try Heather’s Coffee and Café in Springboro.
…big, over-stuffed chairs and comfy corners for warm conversations, try Grounds for Pleasure in Tipp City.
…a quiet oasis along a bike trail, try Stoney Creek Roasters in Cedarville.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at firstname.lastname@example.org