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From college students to corporate America to just about everyone in between, coffee is what keeps America going.
Enter the locally owned coffee shop — where caffeine meets culture.
Each imbued with its own take on the eclectic sensibility of Greater Akron, our locally owned coffee shops are a mini Mecca of culture, capturing what makes our area different from any other city in the United States.
Designed to accommodate both on-the-go and laidback caffeine lovers, these coffeehouses offer one-of-a-kind signature drinks, on-the-fly mochas, lattes, Italian sodas, cappuccinos, hot chocolate, tea and probably more than what’s listed on the menu. Oh … and if you want a straight cup of Joe, well, they’ve got that, too.
I know … because I recently went on a tour of 12 locally owned area coffeehouses, taste-testing caffeinated concoctions everywhere from Canton to Stow to Medina …
As a coffeehouse/restaurant by day and a bar/concert venue by night, Mocha Maiden is the sort of stylish urban hybrid that continually reinvents itself. It boasts bohemian style influences behind the bar coupled with an industrial sitting area. Tables are grounded by tires (apropos for the Rubber City), and the walls feature lots of exposed brick and rock offset by the lounge’s soft, chocolaty brown furniture. A mix of techno music and Amy Winehouse fills the quaint, lively space.
Tucked into the furthermost corner of Maiden Lane, Mocha Maiden offers valet parking and is steps away from Crave and the Akron Art Museum, at the heart of Akron’s social scene, where everybody seems to know each other.
Featured signature drink: Mint Chocolate Supreme Latte — chocolate and mint syrup blend that gets richer with every sip. Maiden offers an array of signature lattes to choose from, as well as a restaurant menu that changes monthly.
Price range: $1.85 - $4.50
Location: 17 Maiden Lane, Akron
Angel Falls Coffee Co.
Angel Falls Coffee Co. is the epitome of quirky urban coffeehouse. With its mish-mash of styles and repurposed furniture (like a red chest for a table/footrest and a coffee bag pressed under a glass tabletop), Angel Falls has no shortage of personality. Portions are ample and served in large white mugs atop saucers, just another stylish throwback to rival the posters on the wall of Dustin Hoffman movies and James Bond flicks from the ’70s. Angel Falls’ specialty drinks and concoctions are only part of its menu, along with an assortment of baked goods like baklava, as well as sandwiches, yogurt and juices. With plugs for laptops, board games and books available, it’s easy to wander into the lounge and spend a few hours in its cozy, relatively quiet atmosphere.
Featured signature drink: Volcan Negro — a decadent hot chocolate made from dark chocolate melted in milk and half and half. (Coffee isn’t the only way to get your caffeine fix — chocolate contains smaller portions of the jitter-inducing stimulant!) But prepare to nurse this drink for a while in all its thick, rich glory, as the Volcan Negro clings to the sides of the white glass mug and languidly works its way down.
Price range: $1.45 - $3.90
Location: 792 W. Market St., Akron
Mocha Joe’s Coffeehouse
Mocha Joe’s offers something many coffeehouses can’t — space. Its large, open square footage is broken up into segments with tables on one side, a fireplace with plush furniture on the other, and even a corner devoted to a kids’ play center with toys and books to keep the little ones busy. But in this airy space, there’s no shortage of personality. Bright, candy-themed art decorates the mustard yellow walls, and there’s tons of Buckeye paraphernalia for sale for the Ohio State obsessed. Shelves along the walls are decorated with brass, porcelain and copper antique coffee pots and urns, as a
reminder of why you came in. A few islands break up the large space, so this coffee joint is ideal for large groups and solo coffee lovers alike.
Featured signature drink: Buckeye Mocha — a chocolate and peanut butter mocha that’s a sweet, savory, velvety treat, even if you’re not much of a football fan. In addition to the coffee basics, Mocha Joe’s is fully stocked with sandwiches, ice cream, vegan cookies and apple fritters the size of your forearm.
Price range: $1.65 - $4.90
Location: 3707 Darrow Rd. #1, Stow
Carpe Diem Coffee
Just inside the Northmark Building, Carpe Diem is a warm center amidst the blistery cold. The shop is narrow but long, with just enough seating, including a few tables in the hall just outside. The décor is mature, with latte-colored walls and clip-art coffee cups on walls, chairs and placemats (the cartoonish steam drifting above them are no exaggeration — the drinks are hotter than hot). But Carpe Diem’s greatest assets are the people. Its workers and customers are personable and offer friendly welcomes to friends and strangers alike. (During my visit, there happened to be a selection of free pizzelles and cookies for the taking — but no guarantees.) While anyone is welcome to come in for a quiet place to sip, Carpe Diem is, at its heart, a social coffeehouse.
Featured signature drink: Gingerbread Man Latte — a light, subtly chocolate, cinnamon and gingerbread latte with no shortage of froth. Limited food items, like donuts, salad and sandwiches are available, along with a customary coffee selection.
Price range: $1.20 - $4.25
Location: 215 Market Ave. N, Canton
The Shay Café
Located in the Summa Wellness Center, The Shay Café is a relaxing place to snack and sip. Light sounds of feet tapping on the track overhead and voices echoing through the corridors add to The Shay Café’s ambience, where workers are ready to help you decide what drink is right for you, even offering a sample of a tropical fruit smoothie. The same clean, modern décor carries throughout the wellness center with shades of red and green and stone flooring. With metal tables as well as comfy couches, a papasan chair and the mellow sounds of Arcade Fire over the speakers, The Shay Café is the ideal place to wind down after a workout or wind up to get through the day.
Featured signature drink: S’more Frap — a refreshing, icy treat with bits of chocolate throughout and chocolate chips waiting at the bottom of the cup. Against all laws of nature, this frozen specialty drink manages to warm you up in the frigid winter wind. The Shay Café also offers health-conscious energy bars, popcorn, veggie chips, soups, sandwiches and hummus.
Price range: $1.50 - $4.75
Location: 5625 Hudson Dr., Hudson (inside Summa Wellness Center)
Cool Beans Café
Cool Beans Café’s large windows provide a great view of Medina’s adorable town square, combining metropolitan style with a small-town view. Exuberant, flowery paintings brighten up the high, plum-colored ceiling, dark chocolate mocha walls and forest green ductwork. Along with the standard coffeehouse amenities, plush sofas and chairs, magazines, books and board games, Cool Beans Café throws a few curve balls — like a separate room for themed children’s cooking classes and a 9 of clubs inexplicably stapled to the ceiling. The establishment is family and hipster friendly — and don’t forget to read the article posted by the door about paranormal activity in the building.
Featured signature drink: Caramello — a caramel mocha blend, like liquid caramel candy melted in a cup. They offer all manner of standard coffeehouse beverages, plus salads, paninis, wraps, juices, subs, ice cream and chocolate covered espresso beans. For an extra caffeine kick, pop open some old-fashioned bottled soda pop made in the Café.
Price range: $1.45 - $4.60
Location: 103 W. Liberty St., Medina
With NPR playing over the speakers, Muggswigz is a classic coffee shop with a modern facelift. In the middle of its open layout is a small stage for performers framed with rustic sacks of coffee beans, while computers for public use sit a few feet away. The character of the shop is a contrast of rustic and modern, as well as urban and rural. Patrons can purchase t-shirts featuring the Muggswigz logo, urban photography and art lining the walls, or share their favorite novels via the book exchange. A large conference table gives coffee lovers a space to get work done, or you can lounge at one of the bars along the windows. The cavernous ceilings and earthy greens,
browns, yellows and oranges give the space an organic, comforting feel.
Featured signature drink: Pumpkin Spice Latte — a creamy, flavorful pumpkin espresso beverage served in a mug the size of a bowl! Speaking of big, Muggswigz enormous, imaginative menu features a myriad of teas and coffees, plus baked goods like anise biscotti.
Price range: $1.70 - $5.15
Location: 137 Walnut Ave. NE, Canton
Nervous Dog Coffee Bar and Roaster
Just outside the hustle and bustle of the city, Nervous Dog Coffee Bar and Roaster is a local favorite — inviting everyone to “Come. Sit. Stay” while sipping on a signature drink or munching on baked goods from local producers. Coffee beans are available by the pound, and everyone is welcome to snag a Coffee Club punch card for future savings upon return visits. With its relaxing, classic décor made up of rich dark woods, Nervous Dog welcomes patrons of all ages, not just the hip coffee lovers uptown. Soft, atmospheric music fills the laidback space, so it’s quiet enough to read but not so quiet that it feels like a library. For those wanting to relax in the shop with a magazine, newspaper or book, mugs are available for that at-home feel.
Featured signature drink: Harvest Spice Latte — a delectable and surprisingly light seasonal treat with a mix of pumpkin, ginger and hazelnut. As a bonus, these sweet fall flavors provide the necessary caffeine buzz, but harbor no ill will toward the caffeine-sensitive.
Price range: $1.75 - $4.75
Location: 1530 W. Market St., Akron
The Bakery Shoppe
Formerly known as Muddy Waters Café, The Bakery Shoppe is primarily a bakery with its custom cakes and desserts, but it offers plenty of coffee options, too. A small shop that extends into Medina’s lush and open Public Square, The Bakery Shoppe’s décor is built for grown-up sensibilities. Seating extends into the open hallway, but the layout is ideal for grabbing a cup of joe or a pastry and heading on your way.
Featured signature drink: Winter Wonderland Flavored Roast — a white chocolate and peppermint flavored roast of coffee with mild flavor to balance the sugar in those desserts. Peppermint notes linger long after you’ve finished the cup. The Bakery Shoppe offers special roasts, espresso and specialty drink concoctions to accompany cookie trays, cinnamon rolls, biscotti, cheesecake, muffins, parfaits, scones, milkshakes, custards, soups and sandwiches.
Price range: $1.50 - $4.15
Location: 23 Public Square #1, Medina
The Espresso Bar
Attached to Italian restaurant Casa D’Angelo, The Espresso Bar is less a traditional coffeehouse than an espresso annex, carrying the same style of the restaurant into the bar. Details like wi-fi and the option of to-go cups ring true of a coffeehouse, while lush paintings of Italian cityscapes and garden scenes remind you where you are. The Espresso Bar is an actual fully-stocked bar as well, but there’s also seating at booths and tables throughout the room. Quiet, classical music hums in the background of this classically decorated and elegantly lit space.
Featured signature drink: Café D’Angelo — a tiramisu chocolate, espresso and steamed milk blend served in an ample white mug and saucer that’s sweet, warm and homey, with an Italian flair. The coffee menu features espressos, signature drinks, standards, frozen beverages and smoothies, which can be accompanied by hand-cut biscotti, cookies, tiramisu, turtle cake or any of the other delectable desserts available.
Price range: $1.75 - $5.15
Location: 893 E. Aurora Rd., Macedonia
Scribbles Coffee Company
Everything about Scribbles Coffee Company screams college town. From its young, jittery patrons discussing their social lives and ingesting highly caffeinated beverages to maintain those long hours of studying and/or procrastinating to its commitment to fair trade coffee, teas and espresso, Scribbles is a coffeehouse with a conscience and a social life.
Though not the most conspicuous of coffee shops with a tree sheltering the entrance, this locally owned and loved spot for Kent students and citizens alike offers free wi-fi, plenty of books to choose from and walls blanketed with flyers for local events, bands, posters and even art for sale.
Featured signature drink: The Black Squirrel — not for the faint of heart, made from four (!) shots of espresso, mocha and steamed milk and named for Kent’s most famous residents. This strong drink goes down easy and is guaranteed to keep you up late into the night.
Price range: $1 - $4.95
Location: 237 N. Water St., Kent
/ Writer Brandi Shaffer guzzled more coffee for this article than she did during her years at Allegheny College and Kent State combined, all despite her grandpa’s warning that it would stunt her growth and turn her knees black. Shaffer lives in Ravenna, and her articles about furries, the Redbox phenomenon, and women traveling abroad have been featured in online and print publications.