My dad, who was an over- the-road truck driver, was a simple black coffee kind of guy. Donut shop, diner, or an exit ramp truck stop was his go to for breakfast and a thermos refill of coffee. His coffee usually came in a styrofoam cup from a driver’s break room or from an abandoned Mr. Coffee in the corner of the warehouse by the loading dock where he waited on the truck to be loaded. (bills photo)
Like my dad I am no coffee snob. I’m as loyal to Speedway as I am Starbucks. Both are convenient and fill my belly with warmth and varying degrees of caffeine. Dayton however has grown a more sophisticated taste for good coffee and good company. A recent boom of coffee shops has provided room for everyone here in town. For fun, I took a tour drinking Latte’s in all the coffee shops in my part of town.
If I am not drinking a black coffee, I am probably enjoying a latte. I like it from a big mug. The kind that requires two hands to lift and tip. The latte is entirely Italian and kinda fancy. Often confused with a cappuccino, the latte is espresso with steamed milk and a little foam on top. Technically speaking, 1/6 espresso, 4/6 steamed milk and 1/6 foamy milk providing a frothy head. Perhaps more than you need to know. I like mine straight. No flavored syrup added.
Here is where you can get a great latte in Dayton:
1201 Wayne Ave.
Latte: 16 oz $3.75
Drip: 16 oz $2.50
Everyone’s favorite. It’s comfy and familiar. This is where the Wayne Ave Coffee Trail begins. Check out this latte out. Shane has created a space akin to your favorite aunt’s living room. You will hear a great story, meet someone new and probably share a table with a stranger. Baked goods grace the counter and the baristas are in the know and will help you decide among a flavored latte, a cold brew or something unique just for your taste.
825 Wayne Ave
Latte: 16 oz $3.00
The newest show on Wayne Avenue. Just a scone’s throw north from Ghostlight. Wholly Grounds is the most economical. Just $3.00 for the latte and the baked goods equally priced. My barista was one of the friendliest and the room the quietest on a weekday morning at 8. Plenty of room for a small meeting, friends enjoying cards or grabbing a chair in by the window and enjoying a good book alone.
257 Wayne Avenue
732 Watervliet Avenue
Latte: 16 oz $4+
I stopped into the Watervliet location right after they opened. The latte was perfect. Perfect. Almost a bit too perfect. The room is minimalist in design. Not really cozy and the drink is made away from the counter. One the most expensive lattes, but the most technically correct of them all. Baked goods were few and limited to croissants and few scones.
22 West Stroop Rd. Kettering
Latte: 16oz $4+
Coffee, ice cream, sodas and the most expansive menu that included toast and bagels with a variety of toppings. This place is super comfy and I like being there. I always see someone from Kettering when I am there and it has real local feel. Uniquely Kettering somehow. The one draw back is the unsolicited advice and history of your drink. I don’t need to know that you don’t offer a specific size of latte. Or why my latte is not a cappuccino or a variety of other tidbits you get when you order. I watched 5 customers in a row order and receive this chat about the drink they asked for. However, their latte was among my favorite. It tasted as if they used a ristretto shot, or a short shot of espresso and let the steamed milk carry that flavor. Currently my favorite for flavor, texture and beauty.
34 W Second St.,Downtown Dayton
Since 1973 Boston Stoker has been elevating Dayton’s coffee scene. Originally roasters, Boston Stoker has locations throughout the region for a great latte. Perhaps best known for the Highlander Grogg with its sweet syrup, bourbon flavor and whipped topping, these guys know how to pull a shot of espresso and will leave you dazzled with their latte art. The Downtown location features plenty of room for a meeting and quiet corners for taking a break with a book or podcast.
Side note: I really miss their old Centerville location and have been visiting their downtown 2nd St. location more often.
1500 E 5th St Dayton
16 oz $4+
Two words. Get there. Delightful unpretentious service. A great shot of espresso and a near perfect latte. Which was a surprise in a location billed as a bakery. Did I mention the service? My visit was disrupted only by some kids unattended and making a ruckus. That didn’t even turn me off to this quaint addition to the St. Anne’s neighborhood. Besides the coffee, service, and humble vibe, they have biscuits and jam, tarts and a list of baked goods I will go back for.
Visit the tag wall. Folks buy a treat or drink and leave it for a specific person. What a great way to share a smile with a stranger.
1513 E 5th S. Dayton
16 oz $4+
I am allergic to cats. My wife doesn’t really love coffee shops. We loved CatCafe. I get a great latte and time with a book, and for a few dollars more my wife enjoyed some cat therapy in the adjoining room. She had an iced tea and we shared a sweet treat. Don’t let the cats fool you, this is a legit coffee stop with baristas that can pull a shot and brew great tea.
46 W. 5th St. Dayton,
16 oz $3.50
3rd Perk is oddly enough found on 5th Street and joins Wholly Grounds as the most warm and welcoming of coffee shops. This location is a great spot for early meetings and parking is easy to find on 5th or Ludlow. Pretty sure I saw the owner/barista delivery a drink curbside to a regular who just pulled up outside. This kind of service catches my attention every time.