Chic Spotlight: Marianne Breneman

Chic Spotlight: Marianne Breneman

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Cincy Chic: How did you find yourself here in Cincinnati?
Marianne Breneman: Brian, my husband, and I came here from East Lansing Michigan in 1999 so I could attend graduate school at The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). After graduation, we both had opportunities here and we decided to stay. My chamber music ensemble called Conundrum, is a quartet of transplants to Cincinnati who found that the arts scene here was enough to stick around!

Cincy Chic: You have quite a diverse career… how did you come about owning a coffee shop when you were a full time professional clarinetist?

Breneman: We live in a developing neighborhood (the East End) where there aren’t many services available to residents. We met some neighbors who had moved here from New York City and we hung out a lot and one night after some cocktails, we decided that we couldn’t complain about things in Cincinnati and not help change them. The whole “what would you do if you could” discussion…so we did!

Cincy Chic: Other than your coffee and clarinet, what else are you passionate about?
Breneman: I’m really involved in fundraising and education about ovarian cancer. My dear friend from Michigan State was diagnosed in her early 30s and it was then that I realized how serious this disease is, how little attention it gets in comparison to other cancers, and how little information was available to women. Along with a wonderful group of women, we started various forms of fundraising and awareness events including a black tie event benefiting UC’s Barrett Cancer Center (where incredible ovarian cancer research is being done), we participated in triathlons and running events, we started an honorary fund for research in our friend Amy’s name with The Lynne Cohen Foundation, and more. The local chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition is hosting The Walk for the Whisper 5K on Saturday September 29th at Lunken Playfield and I hope it’s a huge turnout.

Cincy Chic: How can people get involved in the upcoming 5k?

Breneman: You can walk or run, get pledges or not, bring your family, whatever! Forms are available at both Koka Coffeehouse and Koka Coffee Lounge, or you can register online at More information about ovarian cancer and the NOCC is available online at And since September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, this is a great way to raise your level of knowledge about the disease and to support the women who are dealing with it personally!

Cincy Chic: Back to your career – since you're a professional clarinetist and own coffee shops – how do you like your joe prepared and who do you idolize as a musician?

Breneman: I’m a decaf girl and I like a sugar-free vanilla skim latte!

I don’t know that I really “idolize” any musicians but I really appreciate diverse music and people who have handled their career on their own terms. I’m really into Pink Martini right now, I love Jane Monheit, and I think the Cincinnati Symphony is one of the best orchestras in the country – I just wish more young professionals would give classical music a try.

Cincy Chic: What's your favorite thing about Cincinnati

Breneman: I love the diversity of the arts scene here, I really appreciate the philanthropic nature of Cincinnatians and I adore Graeter’s!