With a substantially more subdued atmosphere than many of its neighboring businesses, Cafe Brioso is a welcome escape from the metropolitan hustle and bustle in downtown Columbus. Low lighting and a close-quarters dining room are to be expected in many of downtown’s fanciest places, but Cafe Brioso does it right; the little coffee shop has a very distinct feel which adds to its appeal. People stop in for coffee and bakery items on their way to work, and some swear by this place as the best coffee downtown. I can’t find anywhere else with such a following.
The store roasts its own coffee — which by itself is a great feat in such a busy area where property is at a premium and operating a roastery is likely very difficult. The product of this extra work is what makes this place special.
- Coffee: It’s outstanding. Fresher than most of the other coffee downtown. The roasteries I’ve been to always have better-tasting coffee (and greater selection of flavors) and the options here are notably superior. It’s god a deep, rich flavor in the basic bean, stronger than other coffees. I wouldn’t call it sweet, but the coffee is certainly strong.
- Chai Latte: Heavy on the chai spice and it gives this drink a bit of a kick. Still a fantastic option if you like the full-bodied latte. Downtown Columbus has lots of coffee, this one is especially memorable.
- Mocha: This latte is tall, very chocolaty and has that pleasant froth at the top. It’s less a quick drink than a full-on dessert!
- Focaccia: This sandwich is popular here; make sure to come in early for lunch or you’ll miss it! Thick, crisp on the outside and filled with whatever you like.
- Tuna salad: A pretty sandwich, that tuna salad is very mild and not too fishy. Delicious if you don’t have a big appetite.
- Cafe Cubano: A Cuban-style morning coffee, similar to what you’d find in Miami’s Little Havana. Bitter as it’s supposed to be, but fortunately some semi-sweet chocolate levels it out a bit.
- Chocolate Scone: Ridiculous chunks of chocolate! Just as ridiculous as it looks! Love the sweet and salty.
The shop also sells a number of lunch items and bakery options. The bakery items are decent and satisfying; not the best bakery goodies I’ve ever tasted, but they’re still good. The selection of lunch items and sandwiches look decent; not terribly outstanding, or particularly stellar. The sandwiches and other things from Cafe Brioso I found uninspiring. By itself, Cafe Brioso has a decent product, but there are a hundred other coffee shop type sandwich options in the surrounding few blocks; Cafe Brioso’s food really doesn’t stick out to me. That said, I’m not diminishing the great coffee and some of the better bakery stuff; that truly is exceptional.
All told, Cafe Brioso is a roastery with an exceptional variety and flavor of coffees, which by the way serves other things too. It’s got a subdued, modern atmosphere and an appeal to the cosmopolitan, the young, and the complex appetite. It makes for a great stop in on the work day afternoon, and it will make your morning the best possible. I would contend that a cup of coffee from Cafe Brioso is an essential thing if you’re trying to get a taste for Columbus; a way to understand the city alongside its oldest dining institutions. Don’t underestimate how different it can be.
- The coffee here is easily the best in the downtown area. Brioso runs its own roasting and brewing operation, so it’s an essential Columbus experience to give this java a try.
- There are a lot of bakery items and sandwiches on the menu too. I like the stuff on the bakery menu, but the rest of it was only “good.”
- There’s plenty of room, and outdoor seating, should you stop by for a visit on a nice day.