Everybody loves coffee. Not only does it taste great, but it transforms us from walking zombies into energized work machines. Coffee-goers crave good quality coffee, and that's sometimes hard to come by. Well, there's hope. Many of Connecticut's cafes actually roast their own coffee beans, which means no more watery coffee. Below is a list of places in Hartford and New Haven county that roast the beans themselves.
Dick Portfolio, owner and roaster at Coffee Trade in Avon, has been roasting his own coffee since 1989 and offers 80 different coffee beans from 18 countries of origin. "Roasting is like a loaf of bread," he says. "If you take four slices from the middle and toast one light, one medium, one dark and one darker and take a bite from each one, they're all going to taste different. The same goes with coffee." The French Roast, one of his dark roasts, is popular with his customers. "I also use the bean in four to five different blends including my espresso," he says. "Since it's a dark roast, I leave it in the roaster longer than most. When it's done, the bean has a dark oily wet look to it." According to Portfolio, all beans have oil inside them. When a bean dries out from the roasting, the oil is forced to the surface. And for him, roasting can take anywhere from 15 to 18 minutes. "The rule for how long you do it is really governed by the individual roaster. I might roast my beans a particular way, but the guy across the street might do it differently. It's not right or wrong, just style," he says. "You just have to maintain consistency." In honor of Obama's election four years ago, Portfolio also created an Obama blend. "Since the president is Kenyan and Hawaiian, I blended together beans from those two countries," he says. "I actually had a customer who worked with Obama in Washington at the beginning of his administration who would come in and ask for a few bags for the President."
Although Ashlawn Farm in Lyme has been roasting its own coffee for over 10 years, it was originally established in 1909 by the Dahlky family as a dairy farm. "A little while ago, we started taking a unique approach to the farm by using the existing buildings on the premises as places for people to go and savor a fresh cup of coffee while also enjoying our farm life," says owner Carol Dahlky. Where the farm used to house its big milk tank is now the cafe, where they currently roast their coffee beans. With at least 27 different roasts and blends, Dahlky has a lot to offer her customers. "What I've noticed about coffee buyers is that even as they begin to be more explorative in trying single-origin coffees or different types of roasts, they generally have a lot of faith in the blend that a roaster comes up with," says Dahlky. "The fact that it's blended shows that it's the creator's own creation, which generally means it's going to be good." One of her own blends, the Farm Blend, is Dahlky's most popular offering with beans from the Americas and Asia. "When we make the Farm Blend, we roast the different components in bins separately and then blend them into another big bin together."
Some CT Cafes That Roast Their Own Coffee Beans
Ashlawn Farm Coffee
Bean & Leaf
463 Bank St., New London, (860) 701-0000, bean-leaf.com
Blue State Coffee
84 Wall St. New Haven, (203) 764-2632; 276 York St. New Haven, (203) 787-9929; 320 Congress Ave. New Haven, (203) 785-0354, bluestatecoffee.com
Cilantro Coffee Roasters
85 Whitfield, Guilford, (203) 458-2555, cilantrocoffee.com
21 West Main St. Avon, (860) 676-2661
1096 Main St Branford, (203) 488-2326, commongrounds.com
Daybreak Coffee Roasters
2377 Main St. Glastonbury, (800) 882-5282 daybreakcoffee.com
Green Marble Coffee House
8 Steamboat Wharf Mystic, (860) 572-0012
Jojo's Coffee Roasting Co.
22 Pratt St. Hartford, (860) 524-1488
J.René Coffee Roasters
320 Park Road West Hartford, (860) 578-5093, jrenecoffee.com
Kevin's Coffee Roasters
78 Windsor Ave. Vernon, (860) 871-7797, kevinscoffeeroasters.com
1247 Main St. Branford, (203) 488-2600, shoreline-cafe.com