Large chain restaurants dominate too many of Dayton’s neighborhoods, with the likes of Zagat and other national critiques overlooking too many of Gem City’s home-grown innovations for regional or national brands. One of them is Boston Stoker, a small coffee chain with locations in all of the largest spots in Dayton, representing the major coffee destination in downtown, the Centerville area, and in each of the three Dorothy Lane Markets in town. It’s in this chain of locally-produced coffee spots with a great variety and a great atmosphere, that you find out what Zagat has been missing about this city.
Boston Stoker has roughly half a dozen locations around town, in the highest population concentrations in the city. Its beans are roasted in a facility north of town, and sold both in shops, at Dorothy Lane Market, and wholesale to some other coffee destinations in the region. The basic coffee at Boston Stoker has a pleasant aroma and a well-rounded flavor that isn’t burned or over-flavored with something artificial. Drink it black or with cream, or iced, and you’ll find it pleasant.
Where people tend to invest more, though, is in the other coffee drinks.
- Chai Latte: I’m a big fan of the chai latte, which has just a little of that herbal flavor and a lot of froth as served to make it fun.
- Espresso: I like the espresso – typically a shot but served by itself also with a little bit of froth – as a good pick-me-up.
- Hop Latte: Inspired by hoppy beers, this latte is heavy on the citrus with lemon zest on top and a bitter note to the latte. A nice limited-time offer.
- Macchiato: This classic coffeehouse drink has a strong and aggressive caffeine to it. It’s served with sparking water to weaken as they tend to be, but I like it strong.
- Teas: There are always a few different teas to try, green tea being one and oolong being another common. These are always hot or cold and best in the afternoon.
- Horchata: A traditional Spanish and Latin American drink served with nuts and spiced with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Usually only to be found seasonally, but when it is, go for it.
- Granita: A nice frozen drink, not too sweet, and not overwhelmingly heavy like a smoothie, but with the caffeine and chill of a great cup of coffee. Worthwhile!
- Scones: Can be found at some of the locations, these are heavy on the butter so they’re crunchy within and without. Definitely on the crispier side for a scone.
Each of the retail coffee shops is built with lots of nooks and big chairs in a sizable interior. The downtown spot is a frequent destination for conversations among city officials and other community leaders. The Centerville location is frequented by the young and small groups. So it’s a really nice option for reading a book, meeting someone new, or reconnecting with friends. An interesting eccentricity about Boston Stoker, the locations, especially the ones on the edge of town, also sell cigars. There’s a special cigar room adjusted for humidity and a ton of options for good American options. But that’s another story.
Boston Stoker flies under the radar all too often, but the truth is that this coffee shop is Dayton grown and Dayton proud. It’s the kind of place Daytonians should want to support.
- The coffee itself is good to be mixed with cream or different syrups. Not burned, with a good basic taste.
- Each coffee shop has a mood of a place where people go to talk or hang out. I recommend it as a place to meet a friend or a business contact.
- Also, Boston Stoker sells cigars.