Best coffee shop


Kaitlyn Finchler

Barista Isabelle Roeder gives fellow employee a task at Scribbles on March 20. Scribbles won first place for best coffee.


The family-owned coffee shop in Kent won first place this year for best coffee shop.

The buisness relocated to Kent from Cincinnati in 2007. Beth Budzar bought Scribbles Coffee Co., which is located at 237 N. Water St., in 2013 after being one of the first employees.

“It just seemed like it was right,” Beth said. “I was always like, if I owned it I would do that, and then it was my opportunity to be like I can do that now.”

Beth is the sole owner and operator, but her family helps with the business. Scott Budzar, her husband, does all the coffee roasting on top of his full-time construction job. The shop started doing its own roasting six and a half or seven years ago, Scott said.

The couple working together is comparable to different types of coffee machines, Scott explained. Each has their own purpose.

“This is the reason why there’s three different grinders over here,” Scott said. “They all handle different kinds of coffee, whether it’s just the drip brew or a pour-over or espresso, they all have a different result depending on the grind itself.”

Although they work together, the roasting side and the shop side are two different entities.

“There really [are] two different businesses arising out of the one that’s between roasting and artisanal work here at the shop,” Scott said.

After learning all of the behind-the-scenes aspects of it, such as the espresso machine, they tried roasting themselves.

“It really just became a question of, ‘why don’t we just learn to do it ourselves?’” Scott said. “We literally started roasting coffee on our front porch with a popcorn maker.”

The couple then moved to roasting in the coffee shop until they outgrew it, Scott said. The roaster in the shop only roasts two pounds of coffee beans every 15 minutes and is now used to show people how coffee is roasted, he said. 

They now roast in a new location and have over a dozen flavors that change periodically.

Scribbles Coffee Co. is located 237 N Water St, Kent Ohio (Lillie Leasure)

“We take great pride and a lot of joy in it, so a lot of these coffees are fairtrade organic, some are women farm,” Scott said. “So we really try to focus on those and make that a really part of our core being [of] who we are.”

The favorite drink of the shop changes with the seasons but right now it is anything shaken, Beth said. Last month for Valentine’s Day, they had a raspberry cheesecake shaken espresso. The drink currently featured is a 16 ounce brown sugar cinnamon shaken espresso.

“You’re gonna do the brown sugar, cinnamon syrup, then we sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon with the espresso and shake it all up, take some oat milk and pour the oat milk on top,” Beth sai.

Scott is a man who loves his black coffee. He never puts cream or sugar in it, he said. But when Beth started making the shaken espressos, he began drinking those as well.

Beth usually picks the specialty drinks, but sometimes she gets staff input as well. Before a drink goes on the menu, she has all her staff try it and leave a thumbs up or down on a piece of paper, she said.

The drinks on the chalkboard menu are Scribbles’ regular drinks, and the ones on the corkboards get changed every month.

The Budzars have six kids, ages nine to 22, who have helped with the business. Some of them worked in the shop over the years and some now help with the roasting process, Scott said. The family side of the business is what gave them the motivation to keep the coffee shop alive during the pandemic.

“It was like the motivation of can’t quit. We’ll have nothing if this place goes under,” Beth said. “Feeding our children was our motivation, taking care of our family, which I think really helped because under any other circumstances, a lot of people … would have just been like ‘forget it, close it down, onto something else.’”

There are many different aspects to the shop beside the coffee, including Scribbles-branded stickers, mugs and pins. They also sell pastries from a local bakery to pair with any drink on the menu.

The shop also displays local artists starting the 15th of every month. Scribbles featured three artists for the month of February, with a table jewelry, gnome-related items and looms, Beth said.

“We do it as just a service,” Beth said. “We don’t charge a commission or anything like that.”

Scribbles is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

SECOND: Tree City Coffee & Pastry 

Rebekah Gillespie, an Army veteran and emergency room and critical care nurse of 20 years, became the owner of Tree City Coffee & Pastry May 1, 2020. Gillespie had her eye on the little coffee shop located at 135 E. Erie St. since December 2019.

“I’ve always had a dream to have my own place where people can kind of come and gather and have either a good dessert or a nice drink, whether that was coffee [or] wine.”

Since Gillespie took over as owner, she made it her mission to get staff more involved. Instead of the seasonal menu method, Gillespie now offers a monthly menu with the help of her staff. Their baristas also create specialty drinks each week.

This business would not be what it is without the staff that works there, Gillespie said.

Tree City Coffee barista Zach adds caramel syrup to a drink on March 20. Tree City won second place for best coffee. (Kaitlyn Finchler)

“My staff … is everything to me,” Gillespie said. “I really feel like treating your staff like they’re part of your own family is more important now than ever.”

Besides coffee, Gillespie features baked goods from women-owned businesses she pairs along with the drink menu. Tree City also carries wine from local businesses.

“I’m hoping to give Kent and the Kent State students and the community … something that Kent doesn’t have,” she said. “That’s always been my goal: to kind of stand out and be able to bring on things that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Tree City is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.


THIRD: Bent Tree Coffee Roasters

Bent Tree Coffee Roasters opened 10 years ago at 313 N. Water St., co-owner Mike Mistur said. The owners expanded their brand by selling their coffee in grocery stores such as ACME, Giant Eagle and Whole Foods.

“As the wholesale [business] expanded, we had to make changes,” Mistur said. “We turned the very limited offering café into more of like a full-scale café.”

Bent Tree roasts some of its coffee in-house, which differentiates it from other coffee shops, Minstur said. Due to the demand, they now have a second shop for the wholesale side of the business. 

“We do all the roasting for everything there in the café itself,” Mistur said. “So, a lot of customers come in and they like to connect. … They’ve never seen the process.”

The customers seeing the process happen is one of the elements Mistur likes about the business.

The interior of Bent Tree Coffee Roasters is warm and inviting. The shop roasts almost every other day so customers can watch the roasting process. (Lillie Leasure)

“It’s kind of … a nice moment for them to make the connection between how the coffee starts as, like, a crop to how it ends up in their cup as a brewed cup of coffee,” he said.

The shop roasts almost every day, so customers are welcome to come in and watch the process happen while enjoying their own cup.

Bent Tree is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.