1. Sarah – 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab
OTR’s mornings just wouldn’t be as bright without the amazing work that Sarah does with everyone’s drinks. The truth is that she’s a wonderful soul that just has an effect on anyone who gets to see her smile. It’s more than just about the drinks to her, and that’s what makes her so special. Instead of simply serving up whatever latte you order, she takes the time to make it with precision and care, all while readily having a conversation with anyone who comes through her doors.
After working at 1215 for the past two years, you could say that she has everything down to a science. She knows the regulars, she knows the lattes, and she pretty much has the best advice ever for anyone looking to try something new. As for her favorite drink? Well, that’s like asking her to pick her favorite child, but she definitely thinks everyone needs to try the new Maple Latte for the fall. Hey, if someone as experienced as Sarah recommends it, you know it has to be good.
2. Isaac – Coffee Emporium
It’s hard to find a well-rounded barista, but Isaac has mastered every aspect of being the perfect guy behind the espresso machine. Just sitting there, he engaged literally everyone in a conversation, and you can tell that he genuinely cares about every one of his customers. Not only that, but his a real stickler when it comes to his work. If he doesn’t feel like something is perfect, he won’t put it on the counter for someone to pick up. Just like the people behind the scenes at Coffee Emporium, he appreciates the fact that quality drives excellence.
Maybe it was the fact that he was hopped up on espresso, or maybe it was just that he appreciates the value of a quality conversation, but he was down to chat with anyone about basically everything. What’s amazing is the fact that he can multitask to the point of having a deep conversation with someone all while making some of the most impressive latte art in the city. Seriously, you want to talk to this guy. He’s got plenty of wisdom, and three years of experience will provide you with an amazing drink while you’re at it.
3. Jay – Highland Coffee
When it comes to Coffee Shops, Highland is a definitely a place that is the furthest thing from traditional, and that experience just wouldn’t be the same without Jay. He may claim that he’s a “shy” guy, but the buzz about his work has caught more attention than even he can imagine. In an industry where dedication to service is everything, Jay knows how to appease everyone who comes through his doors. As soon as you walk in, you feel the relaxing vibes that the place gives off, and he only adds to that.
Highland doesn’t even open until 5:00 P.M. but that’s the perfect time for them to play a part in your life. They operate on the idea that they should be able to “put the edge on, but take the edge off” by mixing caffeine from the coffee with a little bit of alcohol. The good thing is that those drinks that mix both together happen to be a favorite of Jay’s. Give his Irish Coffee with Jamison a try. The sensation and taste are wonderful, and it will warm you up in more than one way on a chilly winter day.
4. Keaton – Rohs Street Cafe
Rohs Street Cafe has become a center for the arts, and none of that would be as successful without Keaton, who is both a manager there and one kickass barista. When he’s not busy planning the daily activities for the shop, he spends his time in pursuit of creating the perfect latte. Diligence and friendliness aren’t lacking with him, and that probably explains why he even has his own set of fans. Even while we were taking our pictures, others were taking pictures of his latte art as well.
After five years in the game at Rohs Street Cafe, everything is pretty much second nature to him. He knows when everything is happening, and he’s not afraid to tell you which bands you need to check out and when the next poetry night is happening. That just comes to second nature in a place like Rohs Street, though. With the kind of drinks he’s cranking out, it’s no surprise that he has a following. Just order a simple Cappuccino and prepare to have your mind blown.
5. Henry – BLOC Coffee
If you already know about BLOC Ministries, then you know the kind of guy that Henry is. He’s always helpful and all about seeing the community become a better place. He gets that a barista plays a vital role to the people of a community, and that drives him to give people the pick-me-up that they need. When it comes to going above and beyond to make someone’s day a little better, he’s always that guy.
That’s not to take away from his skills, though. After seven years of being a barista, he gets the bigger picture on more than just his impact within the community. In fact, he has quite the balanced intelligence when it comes to his drinks and what to accompany them with. He always recommends a Latte with Whole Milk, complete with Deeper Roots Coffee. It sounds simple, but it always goes down smooth. Plus his art is always on point. It’s people like Henry that really make the community a little brighter for everyone.
6. Luca – Collective Espresso
Luca’s the new-comer to the scene at Collective Espresso, but he’s effectively picked up all there is to know about his coffees. He comes off as the dark and mysterious type at first, but that’s probably just him capturing the essence of the delicious dark roast that Collective serves up. Truthfully, he’s always down to have a conversation about pretty much anything, and always has an artistic perspective to give. Plus the dude has style. You have to respect a dude with style.
While it’s only been four short months since he’s started, he always seems to point you in the right direction of an espresso that you’re going to love. While he does enjoy making cappuccinos most, that doesn’t stop him from giving you the low down on the espresso. Oh, and he loves to talk about books, which makes him even more of a badass barista than before. Come on, books and coffee shops just go together.
7. Rachel – Reality Tuesday
How do we put our love for Rachel into words? She’s easily one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, and she always seems to have something positive to say. Well, aside from when she’s busy making some of the best drinks to ever grace the planet. Whether it’s iced, hot, or frozen, she always delivers. Even though she’s a little timid when calling out her orders, it’s only because she’s too sweet to want to disturb you anyway. Besides, we would prefer to enjoy our drinks with our ear drums intact.
While we’re always down for one of her delicious Twenty Below Frozen Hot Chocolates, we’re down for pretty much anything she makes. While the weather’s getting a little colder, you should never pass up the opportunity to let her make you an iced latte. They’re her favorite drinks to make, and you can tell she goes the extra mile to make them perfect. Maybe its the love she puts behind it, but these drinks are consistently fantastic, and that’s why we’ll keep coming back.
8. Aaron – Carabello Coffee
Aaron seems like a simple dude from the outside, but his modest nature doesn’t reflect just how excellent his work really is. When it comes to the art of coffee, few in Cincinnati can even come close to the dedication that he puts behind every drink. Just watching him pour the foam, you can tell that every drink is a single entity to him, and deserves the utmost attention to detail. Just check out this latte art…
Aaron has been at Carabello since its creation, and he’s got his regular’s drinks memorized by heart. While pretty much all of his works are complex, he likes to keep it simple when it comes to his personal favorites. To him, there’s no better way to pull the flavor of a coffee out than enjoying it in a fresh, hot cappuccino, which probably explains why that’s his personal favorite drink. Don’t get him wrong, though. Even if he doesn’t act it, he loves showing off his skills in every latte.
9. Sasha – Sidewinder
Sometimes it’s not all about the artistry as it is the ability to make someone genuinely happy, and Sasha’s perky nature is sure to brighten up anyone’s day. With plenty of spunk and love for people, you just get this feeling that she’s your best friend as soon as you have a conversation with her. In fact, that’s why it comes as no surprise to us why many of her regulars always say that they’re looking forward to seeing her after a long day at work. She just makes everyone’s lives a little bit better.
While you’d think that should be expected from a barista, sometimes that quality gets lost in translation, but that’s far from the case here. She loves making the fun lattes for everyone, too. The Funky Monkey is her favorite, but she’s down to make just about anyone. If you haven’t been in yet, you have to try one of those Funky Monkeys, though. They’re nothing short of a little cup of heaven.
Did your favorite barista get left out? Give them a shout out in the comments below. We’re sure they’d love the support!