Best of Butler County 2023 winner True West Coffee a community centerpiece

Shop is a gathering place and spot for people to study, work.

HAMILTON — With a love for community, quality food and beverages, and an expertise in all the things that make a local coffee shop shine, True West Coffee has become one of Hamilton’s beloved gathering places.

“The thing that we come back to and are most pleased with is that we have loved this community, and the community has loved us back, and we just appreciate that so much,” said Chris Cannon, owner of True West Coffee. “I hope we do a great job with the service we give, along with our food and drink, but ultimately, that support is just amazing.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

True West Coffee, first-place winner in the Journal-News’ Best of Butler County 2023 contest, was founded in Hamilton in 2011 and is in a 150-year-old, two-story home in the heart of downtown Hamilton. The coffee shop has an extensive coffee menu with espresso drinks like lattes, fraps and cappuccinos. They also offer pour-over single-cup brews as well as milkshakes, smoothies and sodas.

“Our coffee is really what we’re proud of and what we’re doing there. We partner with Deeper Roots, who is a roaster in Cincinnati, and they have a couple coffee shops as well. They just do things excellently,” Cannon said.

He said, the lattes, iced and hot, are by far the coffee shop’s most popular selling items. The most popular latte is the Pot o’ Gold, which has caramel and vanilla. It’s a super-creamy, sweet drink that highlights the expresso well. Serious coffee drinkers also enjoy the single-cup, pour-over brews.

Offering tasty food items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu at True West Coffee is complete with breakfast items, salads, and gourmet sandwiches.

One of the most popular gourmet sandwiches is the “George Bailey,” which is made with turkey, avocado, bacon, provolone and chipotle mayo on a baguette.

Guests also love the breakfast sandwiches, including the “Lone Ranger” wrap, which has egg, avocado, pepperjack cheese and a side of salsa.

Cannon, who co-owns True West Coffee with his wife, Vanessa, said they attended Ohio University and there was an abundance of coffee shops at college. They moved to Hamilton after they were married, and they really saw the city’s potential, even before all the explosive growth that’s happening now.

“We thought this what the town was missing, so we started building a business plan, and we found our location, and we renovated it for a very long time. We just thought it would be a great thing to build community, and to be a part of the city, and we really love Hamilton. Back then, we believed it could become what it’s becoming right now. Although some people didn’t believe us, here we are,” Cannon said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

He said True West Coffee is set apart by the level of service the coffee shop offers and how they care for people. They also offer a personal touch, along with being a unique place to be. On the food and beverage side of things, their goal is to do things “consistently and excellently.”

“Our hope when someone comes into True West Coffee is that they feel extremely welcomed. We want to be a place that’s comfortable for everyone.” Cannon said, “We want to offer high quality coffee, great food, but in a comfortable, relaxing environment, where people feel they can hang out, do work, and meet people, or whatever it is, and that it’s a fun, nice environment for them.”

True West Coffee employs about 20 part-time team members. Most of the staff members are high-school or college age.

True West Coffee has a number of seating options, including bench seating, booths and outdoor patio seating with picnic tables. The second-floor meeting room can accommodate 12-15 guests. There’s also a drive-thru for those on the go.

Getting into it in the beginning, Cannon said he and his wife were naïve, and optimistic, and they didn’t realize how hard it would be. He also shared that it has been an extremely rewarding endeavor.

“We set out, and we did a lot of what we wanted to do, but it’s been better than we dreamed of. Our idea was to create community through this space, but to see people respond to it the way they have, and to really support us in such beautiful ways has been incredible,” Cannon said.

As Main Street grows, and as the city grows, he said True West Coffee continues to come up with ways they can do things better and new things they can offer on the menu. For example, a bagel is one of the new menu offerings.

“At the start, we’re going to do plain bagels with cream cheese and things like that. You can also substitute a bagel for sandwich bread. So, if you want your sandwich on a bagel instead of wheat bread or a wrap, we’re going to offer that,” Cannon said.

True West Coffee will begin offering several new syrup flavors for lattes, too. One new flavor is Herbalicious, which is herby flavored with mint, thyme and lavender. Another new syrup flavor is one that’s honey, cinnamon and vanilla flavored.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Everybody from coffee lovers to individuals and business owners have embraced True West Coffee. It has become a local gathering spot for people from all walks of life — from high schoolers to young professionals and beyond.

“We see the intersection of all the people in the city. True West becomes its own community when you’re there,” Cannon said. “It’s people that might never meet anywhere else, but they’re here getting coffee.”

How to go

What: True West Coffee

Where: 313 Main St., Hamilton.

Hours: 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday


Best of Butler County 2023

See the full list of winners and read articles about them.

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