CLEVELAND, Ohio — Matt Ashton said he studied coffee in the same way he studied classical music. Now, those studies have paid off with Lekko Coffee, his new cafe in Ohio City.
The musician, who has studied and performed the French horn since he was a kid, became interested in coffee roasting about five years ago. He picked up jobs as a barista at Rising Star and Solstice Rosters while practicing and gigging in the evenings.
He said he used the same diligence he had when it came to long rehearsal days and practice sessions, when it came to studying the science of coffee.
“I got into coffee and realized there’s a lot of room to grow both in the industry and the city,” Ashton said. “I just took to studying in my extra time — getting in early and reading books available to me, or going home and taking some courses on sourcing coffee or what the different terroirs are that affect how coffee tastes, or can affect the quality of a coffee and how that impacts pricing.”
Ashton studied music at Bowling Green University for his undergraduate degree, and got his masters degree from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University. He and his wife, Laura Ashton, moved back to Cleveland in 2016 for Laura’s job as an architect and designer with Vocon, the company which designed The Quarter apartments in Ohio City.
Lekko Coffee is located across the street from The Quarter, at 2529 Detroit Avenue — the former Foyer and Beauty Shoppe space. Foyer opened in 2018 and closed in 2020, during the pandemic.
“We knew the potential of this area and what was coming up,” Matt said.
Laura laid out a design for Lekko, opening up lounge spots and work spaces with comfort in mind. Lekko makes use of its natural light, adding bookshelves and local art to its walls — currently, Cleveland’s Svona Studio curates the art at Lekko.
“We brought in all local things. When Foyer was here, they were a Pittsburgh company renting in Ohio City, selling coffee from New York,” Matt said. “I am all about local Cleveland everything.”
The shop stocks foods from Dramatic Snax, a pastry company run by Annabella Andricks, who has worked with Lola, On The Rise and The Black Pig. Grab-and-go options will be stocked by PrepSlutz, a Cleveland-based gluten-free and dairy-free meal prep service.
When it comes to coffee, Lekko keeps it straightforward, offering traditional cups of coffee, lattes, cold brew, espresso, tea and more. Syrups and spice mixes are made in-house.
“We have a tight control on how our coffee is coming out. We have rigorous quality control,” Matt said. “It’s allowing us to put something out there, knowing exactly how it’s going to be.”
Matt roasts his own beans for Lekko, ensuring that he follows the “living wage coffee” guidelines he sets in place for his own shop, and for his suppliers.
“I know the farmers and importers and all of my baristas are getting paid a living wage, or higher,” Matt said. “There’s good intent behind all the things we have, specifically in accordance with living wage and products we can feel good about, that are not bad for peoples’ health — that’s what’s coming through here.”
Lekko is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., every day. You can find more information about the shop at lekkocoffee.com.
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