Latte art from Banjoe's Cafe at Hopkins Airport
blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio
It was 1976, the era of disco balls and the BeeGees. I was four years old, my parents had just bought a fixer-upper in Kirtland, OH, and my younger sister was just being born. Meanwhile, Carl Jones, my future husband, was opening the first Arabica coffee shop, the first shop of its kind, on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. Lew Zipkin was his landlord. About a month from now, Carl and Phoenix Coffee will be re-opening on Coventry, with the same landlord, at exactly the same address. The thought gives me goosebumps.
As a middle schooler and high schooler in the 80s, I used to visit the Arabica on Coventry, driving all the way from Kirtland (once I could drive) to pay homage to its landmark status. I remember standing in line at 9:00 on a summer night to spend $2.50 (or so) on my first Cafe Mocha. I fished the bills out of my red corduroy wallet that my Mom had made for me when I was a lot younger; it was cute, but certainly not stylish, and it certainly didn't seem to belong on Coventry, so it went back in my pocket quickly. I stood at the high counter and handed the money over to the "clerk" (I certainly didn't know that she was a barista at the time) and stood there wondering where I was supposed to stand and what I was actually going to get for my $2.50. My friend Kathleen had told me that the Mochas were good, otherwise I wouldn't have chosen a drink with such a random, foreign name. Although all the drinks sounded foreign: cappuccino, latte, red zinger tea, what the hell were all these? I was impressed that Kathleen knew what a Mocha was. She knew what to order, she was in the know. She probably knew what all those other exotics were, too, but I wasn't about to ask. I purposely didn't act surprised when I got handed a mug piled high with whipped cream.