MASON, Ohio -- Chuck Pfahler is returning to Mason this summer for a special homecoming.
The 1994 Mason High School graduate is staking a claim in old Mason to open Adesso Coffee at 125 E. Main St. in late August. Pfahler currently operates an espresso cart at the Mercantile Library downtown.
"My goal from the very beginning of Adesso was to expand into a brick-and-mortar," he said. "I started with the espresso cart to bring great coffee to unexpected places, to build the brand and generate awareness."
The building, previously occupied by Sheldon Cleaners, is next to Tucker's Whippy Dip. Pfahler plans to build 26 seats inside and construct a front patio for eight more outside. He's considering the roughly half-acre of land in the rear for other future uses.
"We plan to incorporate raised beds that will grow items that will be used on the coffee menu, like lavender and mint," he said. "We don't expect to have the back seating built out by launch, but plans are in place to utilize the green space behind the building, complete with outdoor seating, raised beds and fire pits."
Todd Hudson, chef and owner of the Wildflower Cafe, alerted Pfahler to the location when it became available. Adesso Coffee will be just a few doors away from Wildflower Cafe.
"It's exciting to link arms with some really talented people and create something really special … something our community can get behind," Pfahler said.
Hudson is in awe of Pfahler's artisanal sensibilities.
"Chuck is an artist and a scientist," he said. "He treats coffee like a great winemaker sees wine and great chefs see ingredients."
Pfahler will source roasted coffee from La Terza, a coffee roasterie he started but has since sold. Adesso's offerings largely will reflect a traditional Italian espresso menu, featuring espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, caffe marocchino and caffe shakerato. Coffee drinks from other parts of the world, such as cubano, cortado and cortadito, will join the lineup.
Java drinkers will have their choice of batch-brewed coffee or manual brews, using specialized equipment such as a Hario v60, Chemex and Kalita Wave. There will be a strong lineup of teas as well.
Beyond lavender and mint, Pfahler will incorporate other local ingredients in seasonal espresso drinks, such as elderflower, peach, walnut, honey and maple syrup.
"We will have an ever-changing menu that celebrates what is good and honors the abundance of local artisans we have in this region," he said.
For those reasons, Pfahler will work with a legion of local suppliers, including local bakers such as Blue Oven Bakery, Crackling Crust and Brown Bear and farmers such as Jon Branstrator. Adesso also will feature kombucha from Fab Ferments for mixers.
Get ready for happy hour -- of the caffeinated kind. Pfahler will be making coffee aperitivo (coffee happy hour) a new tradition where coffee and traditional cocktails are served, along with small bites like local cheeses and cured meat.
Adesso also will offer food options including fresh pastries, yogurts, granola and quiche.
If you adore latte art and want to learn how to do it, you're in luck. Pfahler plans to carve out a kitchen space in the back for classes, workshops and even special events. He said the interactive classes will cover topics such as brewing methods, espresso basics, latte art and tea education.
With everything that's on his plate, Pfahler anticipates he will soon be unable to hold regular hours at the Mercantile Library. However, he's hanging on to the mobile espresso cart and may do events at the library from time to time.
"(The Mercantile Library) is such a gem and underused resource in our region," he said.
Further down the road, Pfahler envisions Adesso Coffee becoming a "base camp for culinary expeditions." He wants to take customers on tours to experience the artisanship of the area's food producers. This, he thinks, might lead to bigger excursions, possibly to coffee farms around the world.
"I am excited to be coming back to my roots in Mason," Pfahler said. "We are part of a community of artists that have collectively decided that craft matters and that authenticity is important."
Hudson is eager to welcome Pfahler to the neighborhood.
"We're trying to build something unique and make old Mason a destination, and Adesso will be one of the hot spots," Hudson said.
125 E. Main St., Mason.
Projected opening: Late August 2018
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek