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Mad Llama Coffee in Madisonville

In case you hadn’t heard, my name is Mindy and I am a coffeeholic.  I heart coffee.  Coffee all day.  Coffee made at home.  Coffee from local coffee shops.  Cold brew.  Mocha.  Cortado.  Breve.  Medium Roast with a hint of sweetener and a touch of cream.  I’m a fan of all things coffee!  My newest discovery, thanks to a coworker, is Mad Llama in Madisonville.
Mad Llama is equal parts coffee and baked goods.  All made in house!  I got the opportunity to talk with the owner, Jeff Gardocki, to ask some questions!  Check it out:
So the name?  Where did Mad Llama come from?

Mad Llama came out of my quirky head and there is really no backstory for it.  It’s a conversation piece and I like that.  Some people ask if the llama is angry or crazy, really the Mad is just short for Madisonville and gives the llama an adjective.  Llamas are a weird but cute animal and I think our logo is memorable.  I really had no idea how many people would love the llama but people really like them and bring us drawings and stuffed llama’s ( or at least things that resemble llama’s) all the time.

What makes Mad Llama unique?

Well, a local family coffee shop with a drive-thru is pretty unique.  I like to think it’s our approach to being a specialty coffee shop.  My wife has been a barista and coffee roaster in this city for over 15 years and I have learned along with her.  We both get really excited about trying new coffee, roasts and brew methods but never really enjoyed some of the exclusivity that often surrounds coffee culture.  I think we have done a pretty good job at hiring and training enthusiastic baristas in a non-judgemental atmosphere where we can introduce people to new things and provide coffee education and have fun with it.  It’s a family business and the staff are family.

I can attest to the quality of your baked goods.  I may have sampled a few different items. Who is the baker? 

I am the baker and I have trained some of the staff to help me out.

I am a huge fan of coffee shops with drive-thru windows. Not really a question, but more of a thanks.

Thank you!

Do you roast your own beans? If not, are your beans from a local Cincinnati roaster? 

Yes, we roast our beans.  We have recently started sourcing green beans from several smaller exporters so we are excited to be offering a lot of new and different coffee’s very soon.

 Why Madisonville? Also, love the coffee. Love the menu. However, you do not have much indoor seating. Is there a specific reason?

Originally, the business was going to start as just a wholesale bakery which is why the majority of the building is bakery and not seating.  It was not easy to get the drive-thru because zoning didn’t allow it and the bathroom is in the very back making the building not ideal for retail.  I wanted a coffee shop so we decided to just do it.  Not a major reason but I also have a historical connection to Madisonville.  My many great grandfather and grandmother were the first family to settle and build a home there.  Two roads are named after them, Bramble and Ward.

How do YOU take your coffee?

I drink it black.  I enjoy coffee like people enjoy wine or a cigar and I get excited when I find a unique coffee; something that stands out.

What should coffee lovers know about you that I haven’t asked?

We are very involved in the coffee culture; people can find us at most of the coffee events around the city and we travel to other cities for coffee events and festivals.  I would like to bring more of a coffee experience to my customers in the future.  We do pour over’s and experiment all the time, possibly baking classes and coffee tastings may be in our future.

If, like me, you enjoy supporting local businesses and dig a solid cup of coffee, please check out Mad Llama!  My favorite order, so far, is a Llama Latte (a mix of dark and white chocolate) and a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich on housemade sourdough bread! Yep, I’m a fan!

P.S.- For those into Chai Tea, I’ve heard on good authority that Mad Llama makes a stellar one!

GO THERE (Mad Llama Coffee)!  TRY THAT (Llama Latte, House Made Chai, Cold Brew, Egg Sandwich, Bagel)!
Mad Llama Coffee Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Cheapside Cafe Downtown

Cheapside Cafe is one of those restaurants that’s been on my list for awhile.  If you drive around downtown Cincinnati very often, you might have spotted this corner restaurant with the teepee outside.  Cheapside Cafe, sitting on the corner of E. 8th Street, offers a strong breakfast and lunch menu.  Although small, the restaurant is bright, light, and clean.  The white paint and wall of windows works nicely with the natural wood finishes.  Considering the number of customers coming in for takeout orders, Cheapside’s location makes it convenient for downtown employees to get fresh and filling food! This place is hopping!

Cheapside Cafe

Cheapside gets their coffee from Wood Burl Coffee, a roaster in Dayton, Ohio.  When good coffee meets good food, it’s a beautiful relationship.  Cheapside offers drip coffee, pour over, and cold brew for the traditionalists as well as everything from a cortado to a macchiato for those who prefer something a little fancier (or sweeter).  It was a chilly day so I went for hot coffee, but I saw someone order the cold nitro brew and I was so jealous!



The menu at Cheapside Cafe is small yet original!  The portions are generous without going overboard.   Diners peruse the menu posted on the wall just inside the door, place an order at the counter, and find a seat.

Sandwiches are the scene stealer at Cheapside.  Served on Sixteen Bricks bread, these sandwiches are perfectly grilled and perfectly balanced.  We had the Mufaletta, the Chorizo Egg, and the Grilled CHZ.  The Chorizo/ Egg is not for the faint of heart.  With plenty of spicy chorizo and egg packed inside ciabatta bread, this one is hot and delicious.  I devoured it!  My favorite, though, was my husband’s Grilled CHZ; this was a surprise because if I had known what was on it, I might not have even tried it.  One of the main components is spaghetti squash?  What?  And it works.  Spaghetti squash, slow roasted tomato, green chile, and cheddar on multigrain bread. It’s all melted, gooey goodness.

While we were eating, we saw tons of Curried Chicken Salad sandwiches going out so I definitely need to try this one soon.


Grilled CHZ


The fact that Cheapside has Spicy Garlic Pickles on the menu made my day.  Pickles are my favorite food.  No joke! I’m a pickle enthusiast of sorts.  These dill pickles at Cheapside are crunchy, crisp, and not too spicy.  So.  Flipping.  Good.

Side bowl of pickles!

Nice spot for warmer weather!

I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the customer service issue at Cheapside.  The food was incredible, but the service left a lot to be desired.  I’m hoping it was an off morning.  It was strange because the staff barely smiled and asking a question was difficult because no one really stopped by our table.  To be honest, I felt like I was intruding. Again, maybe it was a weird morning and this is not the norm.  Now, will I go back?  Yes!   The food is fresh and worth it.

Hours: Monday through Sunday open 7am to 3pm.

GO THERE (Cheapside Cafe)!  TRY THAT (Chorizo/Egg, Grilled CHZ)!

Cheapside Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato