For those of you who do not know the difference between a barista and a barrister, this article is probably not for you. These are serious coffee houses with people who take pride in what they serve. For those of you who feel an excellent cup of coffee is the crowning moment of a perfect day, the following coffee houses may be of interest to you. Grab your favorite book and settle in with a delicious cup of joe at these Cleveland locales.

Algebra Tea House
2136 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 421-9007

This tea and coffee shop has been described by many as a quirky, hole-in-the-wall cafe with a quant Middle Eastern motif. As you enter the tree branch-covered front entrance, your eyes are greeted by tree bark-shaped furniture and an assortment of comfortable couches. The longer you linger, the more you become aware of the eclectic mix of music that ranges from classical to electronic and everything in between. Nearby college students like it as a great place to study, read, eat a casual meal, play board games or scribble on art pads scattered around the place. The café offers a great assortment of teas as well as a small but tasty assortment of foods. Most notable is the Iraqi-kebab sandwich and the home-made ice cream.


2366 W. 11th St.
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 621-3838

It is always a joy when you find people who would rather renovate old buildings than tear them down. Thus it is with Civilization which is located in the recently restored Flandermyer Drug Building that was originally constructed in 1881. The shop is located on the corner of W. 11th Street and Kenilworth Avenue in the Historic Tremont neighborhood. Modeled in the tradition of Old World European cafés, Civilization offers an array of fine locally roasted coffees, teas, chocolates, pastries, soups and sandwiches. Bring a good book, order a light lunch and something hot to drink and relax in quiet luxury.

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Phoenix Coffee
1700 E. 9th St.
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 771-5282

One of three Phoenix Coffees (the other two are located in Cleveland Heights), this is the place to go in downtown Cleveland if you want real coffee served by people who know their business. This shop knows its way around a tea leaf. While there is some seating, which is usually open due to the large amount of take-out orders, if the weather is nice, grab your cup of joe to go and head over to the Eastman Reading Garden located just around the corner next to the Cleveland Public Library on the corner of Superior and Sixth Street. Grab a book from the library and enjoy this little bit of quiet paradise in downtown Cleveland.

The Coffee House of University Circle

11300 Juniper Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-0300

Arabica in Cleveland is synonymous with the word coffee. It was one of the first true coffee houses in the United States (founded in 1976 by Carl Jones on Coventry Road in Cleveland). In 1985, it began to franchise, and the Juniper Road location at University Circle is one of the few of the original franchises left in the country. No longer associated with Arabica, the shop offers indoor and outdoor seating. Offering 26 blends of coffee and 18 flavorings as well as an assortment of teas as well as light lunches and desserts, this is the place where Case Western Reserve students flock to. Meet friends, bring a date or just hang out and read a book (there is no pressure for you to leave) and enjoy an extraordinary cup of coffee.

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Savor the Moment (Credit, Mark Horning)

Savor the Moment
4080 Rocky River Drive
Cleveland, OH 44135
(216) 941-3014

If Cheers were a coffee shop, it would be much like Savor the Moment. This family-owned business (begun by Jim and Laurie Pantelemon in 1998) is the neighborhood gathering place for folks living around or passing through the Kamm’s Corners area. The décor is an eclectic mix of movie posters, antique coffee pots and memorabilia that is a pleasure to explore with your eyes while sipping your beverage. It is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed Sunday. Savor the Moment offers 75 varieties of coffees, espresso drinks, blended drinks, frappes, teas and chai lattes. If you’re hungry, it offers all types of baked goods (including cookies, muffins, cakes and bagels), wraps, panini and croissant sandwiches as well as salads and rice bowls. Bring a book and spend the whole day inside this cafe.

Mark Horning is a freelance writer covering all things Cleveland. His work can be found on

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