For two years now Collective Espresso has been raising the bar in Cincinnati for specialty coffee. Given the popularity of their Over-the-Rhine café, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise owners Dustin Miller and Dave Hart wanted to take their multi-roaster model to more parts of the city. The newly opened Collective Espresso Northside is the first of a couple of planned 2015 expansions.
The street side entrance to Collective Northside takes you through an ominous alley which turns into an unexpected garden. The café resides inside a greenhouse-like space with large glass windows and ceiling. The resulting natural light creates a space that feels simultaneously warm and elegant. It’s the sort of coffee shop I could spend hours nursing a cup in the corner with a good book, or knock back a quick shot at the bar while chatting with the baristas. It’s the quintessential neighborhood shop, where the barista knows your name and your order.
The space is subtlety different from Collective’s original OTR location. The La Marzocco Strada was exchanged for an American-made Synesso Hydra. Chemexes and Hario V60s are still the brew method of choice in OTR, but Northside is riding the Kalita Wave. Both shops feature a minimalist menu, grass-grazed milk, and high standards for beverage preparation.
Collective works with a rotating cast of nationally known roasters, but regional favorites Deeper Roots and Quills Coffee remain a constant on the menu. I drink quite a bit of Quills at my other job, so I ordered a shot of La Palma, Colombia from Deeper Roots. The beautifully presented espresso featured a bright acidity, rich sweetness, and creamy body. An excellent shot that reflects a bright future for coffee in the Queen City.
Collective Northside is the sort of shop every city would be lucky to have: a quiet neighborhood getaway, one step removed from the bustle of the city. From the maple countertops to carefully crafted beverages, we wouldn’t change a thing.
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