This story is featured in CityBeat's Nov. 1 print edition.
Over-the-Rhine is a central attraction in Cincinnati known for its small businesses, bars, restaurants and more that the area has to offer. OTR continues to draw in crowds no matter the time of day, as businesses have something to offer whether you are looking for coffee in the morning, or a few classy cocktails during a night out on the town. On the edge of OTR, a new Colombian-inspired coffee shop, Coffia, recently opened on 32 East 13th Street.
Coffia is owned by married couple Edna Quiroga and Christian Gonzalez. Gonzalez originally owned a coffee shop in Colombia, but after meeting his wife in New York, decided to bring a Colombian coffee shop to Cincinnati. The couple moved to Cincinnati to still have the city atmosphere without the high costs of New York. Quiroga decided on the name Coffia based on the flower that coffee comes from, coffea.
Gonzalez typically does most of the in-shop work, such as helping out in the kitchen and with the barista work, while Quiroga deals with much of the out-of-shop work, such as communications and planning. Both, however, worked together to establish the business, menu and overall imagery.
“We wanted somewhere central, where people go to explore, and OTR is the place people go for the most part,” explains Quiroga. “It is also close to Kentucky, so you get different types of people. A lot of people come in from different parts of the country to get married or go to a wedding, or all types of events that happen downtown. It’s a good place to mingle and meet other types of people who we can influence through the coffee and the coffee shop.”
At Coffia, everything is inspired by Colombian culture. With opening the coffee shop, the couple’s main goal was to share their culture with anybody the shop may reach. Aside from Colombian culture, the couple drew inspiration from places they have traveled to and places they want to go for Coffia’s menu and atmosphere.
“The idea of it mostly is bringing the Colombian coffee, the culture, the food, the feeling of the jungle, and where you pick the coffee beans from in Colombia, over to Cincinnati,” says Quiroga.
The quaint coffee shop is lined with basic brown tables and tall green plants. A pink neon sign that says “Coffia” catches the eye at the center of the shop. The menu is a trendy letter board that can be rearranged as items vary. The counter-service shop not only offers a coffee menu, but an extensive breakfast, lunch and Colombian food menu that continues to expand.
The main food feature of Coffia is tapas. The tapas are Quiroga’s take on a Spanish dish, with a Colombian touch. They come in about 10 different variations. Soon, Quiroga hopes to add more Colombian food to the menu, as she did not realize the wide Latinx community in Cincinnati prior to opening Coffia.
“We're gonna add some very original Colombian food because we didn't realize that there were so many Colombian people here, and so many Latin people here, and they are kind of thirsty for their culture,” says Quiroga. “Then also, Americans are very thirsty to learn about a different culture and consume different types of food. It's very interesting how people are interested in it.”
Coffee-wise, Coffia uses coffee, sourced from Colombia, that has a bit of a purposeful fruity touch. “The coffee is very, very fruity. If you ever try our cold brew, you'll taste the fruits in it, with chocolate sometimes, but you will still taste the different notes,” explains Quiroga. “It's a medium to dark roast. So we try to keep it as caffeinated as possible for people to get the jumpstart that they need in their mornings, or an afternoon pick-me-up.”
Currently, the most popular coffee on the menu is the “Cafe Bom Bom,” two espresso shots mixed with sweetened condensed milk, topped with frothed milk or skim milk. A popular non-coffee drink is the matcha lemonade. The drink mixes sweet with matcha tea, while still being caffeinated. Coffia recently began serving alcoholic beverages as well.
A huge project that Coffia is currently working on is the Nomad wall located just inside of the coffee shop's building. With the help of a curator and friend of the couple, Alejandro Munera, the owners feature international and national artist murals on the Nomad wall. The format is unique, as even the windows can be used for murals, so the space will be taken advantage of to feature various artists as soon as possible.
“Coffee is like sharing energy, sharing love, sharing roots, sharing plans, sharing fruit, sharing birds,” says Gonzalez, when explaining his motivation behind the business. “The base of coffee is around trees, around flowers, or birds, around communities. I think coffee is, or absorbs, the sands and the aromas of the flowers of that area, but it also absorbs spiritual energy. And I really think that people are drinking that energy. Those are positive things about coffee.”
Both Gonzalez and Quiroga are very excited to expand the shop. They recently began selling their coffee recipe in coffee bags in-store and soon online, and they will be expanding the menu next. Coffia is for anybody seeking something new or familiar in the heart of OTR.
Coffia, 32 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine. Info: instagram.com/coffiacoffeeshop.
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