Latest News

Dayton’s Not Dead: Reza’s

Reza's Cafe | Photo by Marissa Couch | The Wright State Guardian

Reza’s Cafe | Photo by Marissa Couch | The Wright State Guardian

Having only been open since June, Reza’s has already built an impressive clientele.

Two years in the making

“I started roasting coffee five years ago in Fairborn in an incubator space. We were open to the public but we couldn’t get enough people to come to where we were,” said Audria Maki, owner of the coffee shop.

Maki had been looking for a place to open their shop for several years, but she had her eyes set on Yellow Springs.

“I didn’t have super high expectations,” said Maki.

“I didn’t expect to like the city as much as I do, I was super attached to my Yellow Springs people, but they’ve started coming here too,” said Maki. “Now I can probably tell you everyone’s names who walks in here during the first two hours of the day, which is a dream come true for someone owning a coffee shop.”

Maki spent two years remodeling the building. She was there every day working in hopes to cut costs when it came to hiring contractors. It took 16 dumpsters to clear out the space.

‘It’s a lot more of my neighbors’

Barista Jessi Ross has been a part of Reza’s since April, before the shop opened. She previously worked at Starbucks for over seven years.

“It’s just so chill, after being somewhere that’s very corporate, everyone is a lot kinder,” said Ross. “I was really looking for somewhere local where before I was working in a community that wasn’t my own. Working here, it’s a lot more of my neighbors.”

“The coffee shop is really a salesroom for my roasting business. I sell a lot of wholesale coffee to restaurants and coffee shops and businesses,” said Maki. “We also sell bags of coffee and drinks here. I’ve sold to a lot of coffee shops that went under, I’ve learned what not to do. I have a lot of opinions in my head of what I like and don’t like.”

The roaster will be moving from Fairborn to the Dayton location, which Maki believes will help make things run more smoothly.

“I’ve been racing to roast coffee because we keep running out. I actually moved all the packaging here so the baristas can help us package when we’re not busy in the cafe,” said Maki. “I’m dragging these huge 25-pound buckets of coffee back and forth.”

A unique type of coffee

Reza’s coffee is sourced ethically through small coffee farms that Maki prides herself on building personal relationships with.

“If you go to these farms directly, you can ask a lot of hard questions to make sure that the people you’re buying from aren’t being taken advantage of,” said Maki. “I can guarantee that every bean I buy was grown and picked by people who weren’t being taken advantage of and the environment isn’t being damaged.”

Maki sources from farms in Colombia, Nicaragua and Thailand and is actively searching for a farm in Ethiopia to source from.

“So the first farm we came up with was in Nicaragua. We buy from small family farms that have been able to afford electricity for the first time since selling to us,” said Maki. “The quality of the coffee is amazing. We pay more so they’re able to invest in their farms.”

This farm introduced Maki to the family in Colombia.

Maki found the farm in Thailand through Instagram and was able to travel there with her store manager, who was native to the country. A mother and five sons run the farm.

Combining a love for travel with coffee

“The coffee farmers there are hill tribe people who used to grow opium. The king of Thailand didn’t want them to do that, so he did a lot of investment in coffee growing and it’s been a really big success,” said Maki. She buys all of the coffee they export in a year.

Maki loves to travel not only to build relationships with her farmers, but to get a better understanding of what coffee shops around the world are doing right.

“I haven’t been to any coffee shops in Dayton in probably three years on purpose, because I didn’t want to subconsciously copy anyone, but I’ve traveled a lot. I’m obsessed with coffee shops in the Middle East and Australia,” said Maki. “If you like the menu and vibe in here, I’m pulling a lot of it from stuff that haven’t ever been in Dayton before.”

Maki hopes to expand clients to students as well. Reza’s stays open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to offer a study space for a younger demographic.

“I love the openness of the place, there are many different seating options. The big couches in the front room are my favorite,” said Skyler Foster, junior at Wright State University. “It’s not too busy but not too quiet that I’m actually able to focus and get work done.”

Foster is a criminal justice major who frequents Reza’s for a place to study off-campus.

“We did that for students because we were in school once and we know you don’t out till after then anyway. If you want to come study, this is definitely a welcoming spot, we’d be happy to have you,” said Maki.