Dave Hart of Collective Espresso

Dave Hart is a co-founder, along with Dustin Miller, of Collective Espresso, an Over-the-Rhine coffee shop known for its obsession with high-quality coffee and espresso.

How did you start your business?
This was the first attempt either of us had made at starting a business on our own, so a lot of the process was just us fumbling our way though. Because of that, it took a little while for us to get our doors open, but in retrospect, I think the extra time did us good. It allowed us time to practice our barista skills, which for me at least, had gotten rusty over the past few years.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Dustin Miller (my business partner) and I grew up together, and we have dreamed about opening a coffee shop since we first learned to drink coffee. The dream got slightly delayed when I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and Dustin to Virginia. When we both re-located to Cincinnati several years ago with the intentions of starting a food-based business, we somehow circled back around to our original plan and started talking coffee once again.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The local community has been our most valuable asset. We order our Snowville [Creamery] milk from Madison’s in Findlay Market and our soy milk from Park + Vine. Our aprons were made by Chris from Noble Denim, who lives next door to our shop, and the guys from Deeper Roots have been there to help us along every step of the way. And most of our promotion has come from stories on local blogs.

What inspires you?
I have a lot of really talented friends who inspire me in a really direct way. Besides that, I’m inspired by good design, good food, the Pacific Northwest and, of course, a good shot of espresso.

What’s next for you and your company?
We are constantly dreaming about other ideas and future plans, but right now, we are focused on growing into our space here. This will mean adding additional seating, cold-brewed coffee for the summer and some outdoor space.

Interview by Robin Donovan