All Posts By:

Mindy Trujillo

EAT (out)/ EXPRESSO

Cincinnati Coffee Roasters

These past few rainy days have provided the perfect excuse to grab an extra cup of coffee.  Really, any type of weather is coffee weather. When it’s hot, grab a cold brew. When it’s cold, grab a cappuccino.  But when you drink, drink local!  Even when we travel, one of the first things we research is local coffee roasters.  We are always in search of an incredible cup of coffee, and an incredible cup of coffee comes from freshly roasted beans. I’ve said this many times, but I am a huge believer in supporting local businesses and Cincinnati has some of the best!  Today I’m talking about local coffee roasters in the Cincinnati area.

Why local roasters?

I’m not a professional coffee roaster, but I’ve watched professionals roast coffee and I’ve taken coffee classes (all at local roasters).  Here’s my takeaway: roasting coffee is equal parts art, science, and passion.  Nothing compares to a fresh cup of coffee and by buying locally roasted coffee, you know it’s fresh.  Each bag is marked with a roasting date!  To ensure the best cup of coffee, you want to use coffee within two weeks of that roasting date.  This is what you find from local roasters and not from coffee sitting on a shelf in a warehouse.  Local coffee roasters are also careful and conscientious about sourcing their beans.  Many of our Cincinnati Roasters have relationships with farmers; they buy direct ensuring that workers are paid fair prices in safe working conditions.  

We have so many great roasters in Cincinnati and while I’d like to eventually cover them all, I’m going to start by highlighting what I love at a few of my favorite roasters.

Carabello:

Located in Newport, KY, Carabello Coffee is a philanthropic roaster.  Carabello donates portions of their proceeds to several different charities.  The older I get, the more important it is for me to consider where my money is going and what it is supporting.  I know when I get coffee from Carabello, it’s fair trade and often farm direct.  The owners, Justin and Emily Carabello, have built relationships with farmers in Nicaragua. This is responsible sourcing at its best.  I’m also a huge fan of Carabello’s Analog Bar.  Basically, baristas serve up coffee cocktails, provide tastings, and demonstrate different brew methods in a small group setting.  Carabello also has a relationship with Braxton Brewery and if you have not yet tried Braxton’s Starter Coffee, check it out!  Oh, and the cold brew on nitro served up at Braxton (roasted by Carabello) is the smoothest, creamiest, most delicious cold brew that ever was!  Carabello Coffee shop is a bright, clean, inviting environment to spend time with friends!  If you stop in, be sure to check out Bello’s Bike Pops as well!  The Vietnamese Latte is my go-to gourmet pop.  I’m positive you will love this local roaster.

Coffee Emporium:

Coffee Emporium, one of the oldest coffee houses in the Cincy area, is the first local roaster I fell in love with after moving to Cincinnati.  Coffee Emporium brews up a consistently great cup of coffee every single time.  This place pays attention to detail and their level of experience is remarkable.  Roasted in downtown Cincinnati, Coffee Emporium roasts high quality beans in small batches; I dare you to smell those beans when you open a bag of coffee from Coffee Emporium. Heavenly!  You can sit down and enjoy coffee from Coffee Emporium in one of their two locations: Hyde Park and Downtown.  I go to Hyde Park because it’s close to my house, the patio(s) are super sweet and cozy, and the baked treats are always fresh.  Downtown is nice because it serves up a strong food menu, has a more industrial feel, and is always alive with customers.  In addition to roasting, serving, and selling coffee, Coffee Emporium also has speciality teas.  And, any fans of New Riff Distillery will like the Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee made in collaboration with Coffee Emporium and New Riff Distillery.  

Urbana:

Urbana coffee began their roasting journey at Findlay Market.  In fact, Urbana still does all their roasting at Findlay.  The owner, inspired by growing up in Venezuela, spending some time in Italy, and seeing the Vespa Apes (three-wheeled light commercial vehicle) in action, began with the Urbana Mobile Espresso Bar! You can see this mobile coffee bar at Findlay and other local events and venues. In addition to Findlay Market, Urbana has two other locations: Pendleton and East Walnut Hills.  Both coffee shops are welcoming, bright, and modern.  When you stop by Urbana, try the Flat White (espresso, steamed milk, microfoam); it’s super creamy and delicious.  And, like the other coffee shops mentioned in this post, Urbana serves up some melt-in-your-mouth treats like Almond Croissants, Banana Bread, and Scones (also made locally)!  

Luckman:

I think what I appreciate most about Luckman is that it’s a great cup of coffee served up in a no frills environment.  The baristas are friendly and knowledgeable, and they can make pretty much any coffee drink even if it’s not on their menu.  Luckman’s roasts their coffee in Mount Washington and plays well to the locals with their Little Miami Blend (an homage to the Little Miami River) and their Peg Leg Jim Blend (a dark roast with a sense of humor).  Best part? The owners of Luckman care about their customers and take time to get to know them!  You can enjoy a cup of Luckman’s at two locations: Mount Washington and Anderson Township.  And, the Anderson Township location has a drive-thru!  Score!

Other notable local roasters include: Lookout Joe, La Terza, Deeper Roots, Seven Hills.  While I haven’t covered all of these in this post, I’ve had a great cup of coffee from each!  Many of our local coffee shops in Cincinnati serve up coffee from these roasters as well!  When you shop local, drink local, and support local, you’re making your money matter.  

I own a shirt that says: Stressed. Blessed.  Coffee Obsessed.  If I had to be obsessed with something, I’m certainly glad it’s an incredible cup of coffee!  Find me at a local coffee shop and I’m a happy woman.  Cheers to my fellow coffee addicts; we know what’s good in life.

GO THERE (Carabello, Coffee Emporium, Urbana, Luckman)!  TRY THAT (Supporting local Cincinnati Roasters)!

EXPERIENCE

Kayaking on the Little Miami River

Paddlefest was last weekend on the Ohio River and the turnout was huge!  If you saw any pictures and you’re curious about kayaking, there are some easy ways to get started!  No equipment needed.  Or, if you’re trying to make the most of summer before the kids go back to school, you might be looking for some end of summer adventure and family time!  And, it’s hot in August so why not get out on the water to stay cool?

I’m not a complete novice when it comes to kayaking; I’ve kayaked a few times, but not too much locally. I’ve been wanting to kayak more, but wasn’t sure how to get started.  It was actually some students who pointed me to Scenic River Canoe Excursions where I was fortunate enough to try a 6-mile excursion on the Little Miami River.  Scenic River Canoe Excursions makes it so easy!  They provide the kayak (single or tandem), life jacket, and transportation to the drop off location.  If you’d rather try canoeing or tubing, those are provided as well.  Personally, I find kayaking more stable than canoeing.  Granted, I’ve only canoed twice , but both times I flipped our canoe and we all ended up swimming.  I think I have balance issues!  🙂 And, if you should tip, a kayak is so much easier to climb back into than a canoe!  Trust me!  And if I can get back in, you can get back in!  But that won’t happen.  At Scenic River, the kayaks are sit-on-top kayaks which I prefer.

Scenic River provides three trip options:

  1. Terrell’s Short Trip- 2 miles:  super relaxed, about 45-60 minutes, easy (great for beginners)
  2. Fletcher’s Mid Trip- 6 miles:  a bit more challenging, about 2-3 hours, good exercise and plenty of places to pull over and swim if you’d like
  3. Isabella’s Long Trip- 10 miles: reservations required, about 4-6 hours, leaves in the morning (I think I want a little more experience before trying this one)

Remember, with all of these, you’re going downstream so you can work as hard or as little as you’d like!  And, unless you’re doing the 10 mile trip, the bus loads up every 15 minutes or so which is perfect timing.  

While we were kayaking, we saw a group of friends and family tubing down the river, each holding the same rope.  It was sweet; everyone was laughing, talking, and enjoying some fun in the sun without having to do any paddling.  If you’d like to tube, try the 2-mile option at Scenic River.  Whatever option you chose, there’s plenty of wildlife, little rapids, and beach areas for resting, swimming, and rope swinging.  I got giddy excited when we hit each of the little rapids; I’m sure these don’t technically count as rapids, but it felt like I was a true adventure seeker while never being in any real danger.

I know that there are plenty of places to kayak in and around Cincinnati; some on the Little Miami and some on local lakes and parks.  You can check out the following: Lake Isabella, Miami Whitewater Forest (they have hydro bikes), Sharon Woods, and Winton Woods.  Most of these Hamilton County Parks listed above have kayaks, paddle boats, stand up paddle boards, and more.

There are places to rent and use kayaks in many areas of the city.  This is something everyone can do- it doesn’t matter if you’ve never been kayaking or you’re a pro.  And I can’t wait to go again with Scenic River! I’m trying to make those summer days count. As I’ve said many times, I truly believe experiences matter more than things!  This is a perfect experience to share with family and friends.

GO THERE (Scenic River Canoe Excursions)!  TRY THAT (Kayaking)!