Best coffee


Matthew Brown

Kent State alumna Poppy Henrikson (left) and junior Polina Kisileva (right) work behind the counter at Scribbles Coffee Co. March 15, 2023. Scribbles Coffee Co. received several Best of Kent nominations and is located at 237 N. Water St.

Leah Shepard, Staff Reporter

FIRST: Scribbles Coffee Co. 

Scribbles Coffee Co. is community-oriented before anything else, according to eight-year owner Beth Budzar. 

Scribbles’ location moved from Cincinnati to Kent in 2007, and Budzar said Scribbles has changed since then. 

“When I purchased Scribbles, we were not roasting our own coffee,” Budzar said. “So when I took over, I decided we have to be our own coffee shop. We have to have our own taste and brand. We need to start roasting.”

Now, Budzar said Scribbles roasts “every last bean in the shop.”

Her husband, Scott Budzar, roasts all the coffee in-house after it’s purchased from ethically-sourced farms all over the world.

“We like to support other women,” Beth Budzar said. “So, we seek women-right farms, where women have the same rights as the men or even, women-owned farms.”

Budzar said in addition to sourcing coffee from women-owned farms in places like Rwanda and Peru, the business also partners with farms which serve as outreaches in their own communities.

Jenny Cureton (left) and Karen Rumley (right) enjoy coffee and conversation at Scribbles March 15. Scribbles Coffee Co. is located at 237 N. Water St. (Matthew Brown)

In addition to Scribbles’ “coffee-house vibes,” the shop is also known for its signature Junior Bolts drink, which consists of two shots of espresso and steamed half and half. 

Scribbles sells not only locally roasted coffee but products of local artisans too. Additionally, all of Scribbles’ merchandise is designed by members of the Budzar family. Stickers and mugs stamped with the shop’s mascot, a black squirrel, are also sold. 

Beth Budzar said community remains at the heart of Scribbles’ identity as a coffee shop.

“I love that friends come together and catch up with each other over a cup of coffee,” she said. “I like providing a place for folks to do that.”

Scott, Beth’s husband and “master roaster,” echoed her thoughts. 

“When you think business, you think of what defines business in terms of success,” Scott said. “And sometimes that looks like turning one business into many businesses. For us, it’s contentment, happiness, community engagement, loving our neighbors and being successful at that.”

Scribbles is open 7 a.m.–6 p.m. seven days a week. 

SECOND: Tree City Coffee

Founded in 2011 with hopes of being a community-oriented coffee shop, Tree City Coffee employees say the coffee shop turned out to be just that.

“The owner is really heavy on making it a family kind of place,” said Violet Rado, an employee at Tree City. “A ‘home away from home,’ that’s our tagline.”

Rado, a local, said Tree City gets a mixed crowd of both locals and students for customers, as well as other small business owners downtown. She said the environment is welcoming and friendly. 

“It’s pretty warm in here,” Rado said. “It’s pretty fun. Everyone is always laughing.” 

Best of Kent
A worker makes coffee for customers at Tree City Coffee & Pastry, located in Acorn Alley at 135 E. Erie St., which placed second for “Best Coffee Shop.” (Kait Murray)

Lucy Riddell, a sophomore general business major, has worked at Tree City since September 2022, and she described her job as an “inviting” and “welcoming” environment. 

Tree City ethically sources all their coffee and serves a variety of coffee, bakery and alcoholic products, including their signature Tree City Maple Latte. 

Riddell said Tree City is known for its seasonal drinks as well as the variety of cheesecake the business serves daily. The business offers bagel sandwiches, scones, desserts and flavored cold brews and lemonades among other drink options. 

THIRD: Bent Tree Coffee Roasters

Situated across the street from popular bar Brewhouse and at the foot of Saint Patrick’s school, staff at Bent Tree say they attract a good mix of both locals and students. 

“We attract a lot of different types of people,” said manager Jonah Onuska. “People from all walks of life end up here ahnd I think everyone feels welcome. Whether it be students, townies, or whatever.”

Customers can choose from expresso, drip french pour and cold brew coffee options, among others. The coffee shop also sells teas, baked goods and bags of its freshly-roasted coffee beans. 

Kent State sophomores Corey Buckner and Abby Knapp do homework and study inside Bent Tree Coffee Roasters, which is located at 313 N. Water St. Bent Tree placed third in the “Best Coffee Shop.” (Matthew Brown)

Onuska, who has worked at Bent Tree for two years, said Bent Tree makes most of its syrups and roasts all its coffee in-house and this sets them apart. He said Bent Tree also added a slushie machine to their repertoire in October 2022. 

Bent Tree is most well known for its drip-coffee, Onuska said, and the business has maintained its original price since the store opened 12 years ago. 

He said this price consistency is “to stay true to where we began.”

Bent Tree Coffee Roasters is open from 7 a.m. –6 p.m. Monday–Friday and 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Leah Shepard is a staff reporter. Contact her at [email protected]