Cafe Review: Collective Espresso in Cincinnati, OH

Collective sign

The specialty coffee scene in Cincinnati just got a huge shot in the arm.  Nestled on a quiet side street in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Collective Espresso is a new craft coffee shop raising the bar in the Queen City.  Even though Collective has only been open a month, owners Dustin Miller and David Hart are crafting espresso in Cincinnati like seasoned professionals.

Collective storefront

Collective’s selection

Collective serves coffee from local roaster/charity Deeper Roots, and Ohio River neighbor Quills Coffee, in Louisville, KY. Hart developed a relationship with Quills while working as a coffee buyer for Whole Foods, so when he wanted to highlight a regional roaster at Collective, Quills was a natural choice.  Collective also features a rotating guest coffee from a nationally known roaster, such as Four Barrel or Madcap.

strada pulling espresso in Cincinnati...

Espresso in Cincinnati

As implied by the name, espresso is up front and center at Collective. Their shiny La Marzocco Strada MP is the first thing you see when you walk in, and all of the the seating surrounds the action. Collective normally serves Quills’ Blacksmith Espresso blend, but for a small up-charge you can order a single-origin espresso.  I tried the La Armonia Hermosa, Guatemala; a direct trade coffee imported and roasted by Deeper Roots. The shot had a syrupy mouth feel and a candied orange sweetness. I’ve had the same coffee at Sunergos before, and it’s yet to disappoint. For their cortados and cappuccinos Collective uses milk from Snowville Creamery, which is is known for their sweet, grass-grazed, low-temperature pasteurized dairy. Hart and Miller explained that it only made sense to use such a high quality milk when they work so hard to make great espresso.

Collective espresso

Collective also offers filter coffee, brewed to order as a pour over. Julie and I shared a Chemex of Four Barrel’s Hawa Yember, Ethiopia: a sweet, citrusy coffee with rich, floral aromatics. Four Barrel was our favorite cafe in San Francisco, so it was a treat to have a cup east of the Mississippi.

So if you’ve been searching for the perfect cup of espresso in Cincinnati, look no further. Or if you’re passing through town, Collective is definitely worth the detour – just don’t mention the Bengals.

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About Michael

Michael Butterworth is Director of Education at Quills Coffee in Louisville, KY. When he's not debating the merits of different pour-over techniques you can probably find him on his bike or pretending to be a photographer with his trusty Fujifilm x100t . Michael is a two-time USBC Competitor, licensed Q Grader, and frequent contributor to Fresh Cup Magazine. Michael and his wife Julie write about travel at


  1. Barry Strum says:

    Wonderful, quirky, esoteric to a fault. The shot presentation on rectangular tray sitting opposite a small faceted glass of Pelligrino water delivers a wonderful, civilized punch!! Bravo Espresso Collective !!

  2. Couldn’t agree more Barry!


  1. […] two years now Collective Espresso has been raising the bar in Cincinnati for specialty coffee. Given the popularity of their […]

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