BLOC Coffee: Gathering a Community; Transforming a Neighborhood

 From mission to food and beverage offerings, BLOC Coffee, established in 2007 at the heart of the Incline District in Price Hill, has a really special thing going. The location may seem top secret to many Cincinnatians, but this hidden treasure needs to be exposed.

 Having just wrapped up a sweet conversation with one of its founders, Stephanie, it’s definitely no secret why it’s a success. Not only does her very presence radiate joy, her outlook of “I get to do this” is so authentic. But what exactly is “it” that she gets to do?

 The acronym “BLOC” stands for “Believing in the power of hope to save; Living where we serve by being consistently present in our community; One to one relationships and mentorship; “Christ in us in all that we do.” Their mission is “building relationships with our neighbors and sharing hope in brokenness.” It’s evident as I look around the beautiful, restored building, that each individual who works there is walking out that mission.

 BLOC Coffee began with a spark from local Price Hill visionaries desiring to transform a drug ravaged block of Price Hill. The fringe of society living nearby had gotten stuck in a whirl pool of drugs and prostitution they couldn’t see their way out of alone. How can one coffee shop play a transformative role in uplifting a block of the city so notorious and with such embedded history of drugs and crime?

 According to Stephanie, that begins and ends with relationship. The coffee shop is one leg of their organization. The first step to getting women off the street and out of dire situations is providing them an overnight shelter to meet their basic needs. From there, they have the opportunity to choose to move into a more permanent setting at BLOC’s Redeemed Home. This space is the home of up to 11 women at any given time, mostly local to the Price Hill area, who commit to a 90-day course which helps uproot a life of worthlessness to a new life of knowing her worth. Much of that is built on regaining the ability to trust again—no easy endeavor.

Stephanie, who wants no accolades, sums up the personal impact she’s experienced with, “It’s just joyful to be able to watch a woman [realize her] infinite worth. You can’t describe that. It’s incredible.” Unveiling the mask of pain, choosing a path to recovery entails learning basic life skills along with holistic care. These women must overcome deeply rooted trust issues. That can only come with one of BLOC’s underlying missions, relationship, “supporting the personal growth of ourselves, our neighbors and our city through the power of community.” Therefore, it’s no wonder the entire full-time staff resides in Price Hill neighborhood, maintaining authentic neighborhood sustainability.

 With a major hurdle being earning “honest” after escaping a life in the sex industry and addiction, BLOC Coffee not only empowers but employs such women of hope. It’s at this darling coffee shop the staff implements their philosophy of “uniting ‘third place’ principles with ‘third wave’ coffee practices is one of the many ways we can share hope in brokenness.” In other words, they serve the highest quality coffee with an outstanding purpose. Furthermore, the owners put their money where their mouth is by giving their net profits directly to their “Weightless Anchor” and “Redeemed Home” programs.

 With such a solid foundation in all regards, it’s no wonder this small business has endured these unpredictable times. They even have plans to renovate and open their second floor to use for event and conference space as well as a softer environment with more comfy couches and chairs. BLOC Coffee boasts an in-house chef who prepares a delicious, homemade breakfast menu, I’ll vouch for having sampled their waffle with blueberries and homemade whipped cream. They source their offerings as locally as possible, from being one of Deeper Roots first vendors to 16 Bricks Bread, along with a retail side celling Queen City Clay pottery to locally made Kombucha and Brews. They even carry screen-printed T’s crafted at their very own BLOC Screen Printing.

Sharing a conversation with Stephanie on a sunny, Wednesday morning was a true delight. I can’t wait for my next visit to BLOC Coffee. If you’re passionate about supporting local businesses, I believe there’s no better spot to venture to than BLOC Coffee.


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