The days are gone when signs of vital economic growth were clouds of smoke billowing into the air from manufacturing and steel plants.
There is still isolated manufacturing along the Cuyahoga River, but entrepreneurs are looking at new ways to breath new economic activity throughout Cleveland.
They are doing it in a bold manner but quietly behind the paned windows and brick walls of Cleveland’s former factory buildings.
We’re talking coffee. And lots of it. From Collinwood to Hingetown, those craving a cup of caffeine have a locally owned coffee shop nearby as an option.
In the past five years, Cleveland’s food scene has exploded, ranking it as one of the top food cities in the country. Breweries quickly followed, earning Cleveland a new reputation to replace what was lost when manufacturing jobs left the region.
Following beer’s example is coffee.
In the last couple of years, there’s been an explosion of micro-roasters, slowing developing Cleveland’s coffee scene.
“We’re seeing pretty strong growth across the market. It’s a nuanced thing, though,” said Christopher Feran, the Coffee Director at Phoenix Coffee and a coffee consultant, who has worked in the coffee industry for almost ten years.
Coffee shops and micro-roasters are opening up shops throughout Cleveland, alongside the dozen, big and small, already established businesses. Phoenix Coffee announced on May 8 that its fifth café is coming to the Warehouse District in the summer. Nearby in the East Bank Flats, Six Shooter’s is extending its location on Waterloo Road to a small café at their micro-roasters on May 20.
“Just because we’re seeing more shops and roasters opening, doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is doing well, but it does fit a larger national trend of growth in the specialty segment which is tied directly to a growth in the millennial population in Cleveland,” Feran said. “Around the Rustbelt there is some growth in Detroit and Pittsburgh, as well.”
Cleveland has experienced millennial migration since 2008 because of low rent compared to cities like Boston, Los Angeles and New York, according to “Fifth Migration: A Study of Cleveland Millennials.”
When Rising Star started in 2012, there were not many roasters around; Now there are more than a dozen third wave coffee shops and roasters scattered throughout the city, usually in former factory buildings, repurposed and renovated for much less than other cities.
Brandon Riggs, the coffee director at Rising Star, explains how the availability and discussion of coffee at local coffee shops allows customers to make a connection to the cup of coffee they are drinking, even though they may be thousands of miles away from a farmer.
“I think education is a part of the growth among the independent coffee roasters. The old way of thinking of coffee roasting is ‘it’s a big secret,’” said Riggs. “Now customers can see how their beans are roasted on a local level. It lifts the veil of the secret roasting process.”
Robert Stockham, general manager of Rising Star, has seen growth in over the last three years.
From 2014 to 2015, sales nearly doubled. In 2016, sales increased by 17 percent.
“For the wholesale side, we have seen sales grow at a slower pace. That is, if you don’t calculate in the sales to our own cafes,” explained Stockham.
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Article Courtesy of WEWS News 5 Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of Francesco Perre, EyeEm, and Getty Images