Camp Washington is home to one of brothers Austin and Tony Ferrari's most recent projects, Mom 'n 'em Coffee. The shop has gained quite a bit of attention from local coffee fanatics, foodies and wine aficionados since opening in the spring of 2019. Now, the coffee and wine café is being recognized under the national spotlight via a recent article from Food & Wine magazine, where writer David Landsel goes behind the scenes and spends a day in the life of a barista.
Mom ‘n ‘em is a passion project four years in the making for the Ferrari brothers. Food is a family business for the pair; they also operate Provender Coffee and Hillside Supper Club in San Francisco, where they lived until this past February. Locally, they operate Ferrari Barber & Coffee Co., a barbershop formerly owned by their great-uncle on Garfield Place downtown, and they most recently opened Fausto in the Contemporary Arts Center. Fausto is named after their father, who immigrated from Italy in the early 1970s; Mom ‘n ‘em is a tribute to mom Theresa, the American girl next door.
Landsel paints a picture of a typical Saturday morning in the Queen City, mentioning perusing the bustling Findlay Market, followed by a hearty helping of goetta at OTR's Tucker's diner. Though, for him, these leisurely destinations are not in his cards, as he plans to wake up at 5:15 a.m. and begin training for a day in the life of a barista with Mom 'n 'em's Austin.
Landsel explains how he met the brothers in San Fransisco years ago: "During our first meeting, on a sunny and warm February day, we mostly talked about Cincinnati, and their plans to go back and invest in their hometown, which lately had been on the upswing. This wasn’t even two years ago; at this writing, they have opened three businesses in the city, complementing the two they still own, and co-own, in San Francisco."
After discussing the brothers' other Cincinnati projects, Landsel goes on to introduce the coffee shop. "And there’s what I think might actually be one of the best new coffee shops in the country, deep in the heart of Camp Washington, a working-class section of Cincinnati known best for its vintage, 24/7 chili parlor," he says.
He goes on to describe the shop, a tastefully renovated century-old home, like many in Cincinnati. He explains the well-curated offerings at Mom 'n 'em, noting the tasty pastries, breakfast sandwiches and (of course) coffee, as well as their afternoon draws like their generous selection of wine and tinned fish. Landsel calls the shop, "one of the very best all-day cafés I’ve seen."
Landsel begins the training process with Austin before the shop opens at 8 a.m. Austin carefully prepares the espresso machine for the day, as well as dials in the coffee. "Dialing in means that you take whatever you’ll be using that day, and try and get it to extract to the correct flavor profile,” Austin says.
Austin performs some test pulls on the espresso machine until reaching his ideal consistency while Landsel attentively watches. After about four pulls, a perfect espresso is made. "The espresso hits your tongue like a bouncing ball, then ricochets around your mouth; the citrus notes a perfect complement to a summer morning where the humidity is already off the charts, the way it often is down here, along the Ohio River," says Landsel.
Hours have passed and after Austin's thorough instruction, it's time for Landsel to show off his skills. "Grind. Weigh. Tap. Tamp. Pull. Steam. Pour. I’ve done it. After a feeble attempt at latte art, it’s time for Ferrari to sample my work. My multitasking skills definitely let me down, I already knew as much," he says, but Landsel wonders, is his coffee creation drinkable by Austin's standards?
"Yes, he admitted. He’d most likely drink this. Followed up by, of course, a great deal more training, including an urgently-needed lesson on latte art."
And there's plenty of opportunity as more coffee-fiends pour through the door.
Read the full feature by Food & Wine here.
Mom 'n 'em is located at 3128 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, facebook.com/momnemcoffee.