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La Grassa Coffee and Gelato

I love coffee and sweets.  That’s no secret.  I’d be hard pressed to pick between the two if someone made me.  Most days I can’t articulate clear thoughts (or say words) without coffee so I guess coffee wins.  Luckily, I don’t have to pick because La Grassa in Madeira serves quality coffee and homemade gelato! If you’re anything like me, you enjoy your coffee and your sweets together.  At La Grassa you can do just that.  Order one of each, or, get a little wild and try an Affogato (espresso poured on top of vanilla gelato) or some Espresso Chip Gelato! Either way, it’s a taste of sweetly caffeinated heaven.

Speaking of caffeine, La Grassa serves Intelligentsia coffee which is a well-known roaster in Chicago.  It’s direct trade, exceptionally roasted coffee that the baristas at La Grassa brew with skill. We enjoyed a few drinks on a recent visit; my husband loved his Cortado (espresso mixed with equal parts steamed milk) while I ventured into somewhat familiar territory with my Mocha.  

Now, I love my mochas.  It’s my go-to frou-frou drink.  But, I’m a real milk kind of girl; I’ve tried various kinds of nut and soy milks and I just can’t do it.  I don’t like the flavor, but even more importantly, I don’t like the texture.  I made that very clear when I was asked to try mine with oat milk.  Oat milk?! Gotta say I was hugely impressed.  The oat milk didn’t break up in the hot coffee and the consistency was super creamy and rich.  If you try to avoid dairy in your coffee drinks (regular or frou-frou), I highly recommend a coffee break at La Grassa.

Cortado

Mocha made with oat milk.

Minor Figures oat milk shipped in from Europe

Even more impressive than the coffee bar at this sweet little shop in the heart of Madeira, is the gelato which is made by hand using only the freshest ingredients by an owner who actually studied the art of making gelato in Italy! Yep, in Italy.  The secret to this gelato, in addition to the skill and knowledge of the maker, is the fresh ingredients.  Remember, I only write about places I like and we tasted every single flavor of gelato on that menu.  Each was creamy, not too sweet, and a celebration of fresh flavors in subtle ways.  From the Apple Cider to the Pistachio, from the Passion Fruit to the Salted Caramel, it was just so good and so refreshing.  I loved the slivers of rich chocolate, the taste of actual vanilla beans, and the boldness of real passion fruit. Even their chocolate and caramel sauces are made from scratch!

Cookies and Cream

Espresso Chip

After stuffing ourselves with gelato and coffee, we got a tour of the kitchen (which was clean and highly organized).  We were told that the question that drives the business is this: What are we using and how are we using it?  I have zero doubts about that.  The owner, who studied in Italy, has a manufacturing background which is reflected in his meticulous notebooks of perfectly balanced ratios.  Everything at La Grassa is thoughtful.

We ordered one of these cheesecake gelato pies for the holidays and it was delish!

So, whether you stop in for coffee, gelato, or both, I highly recommend a visit to La Grassa.  It’s a great location and an even better product.  Get your coffee and gelato to go or sit for a while with a friend.

GO THERE (La Grassa)! TRY THAT (Espresso Chip gelato, Passion Fruit sorbet, Latte, Cortado)!

La Grassa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ALL/ 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)!
Urbana Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato