Great Coffee: It Takes A Village
Walk into one of the three coffee shops in Stonington Borough’s footprint and what becomes immediately apparent is this: All three are owned and operated by people who care deeply about coffee; and all three foster a strong sense of community.
Owner, certified coffee roaster, and the face you’ll see behind the counter of Social Coffee Roastery is Tom Piacenza, who gets up at 3:30 am, 7 days a week, to roast small batches of organic beans from Africa, Indonesia, Central America, and Turkey at his facility in the Velvet Mill, where he also operates an espresso bar.
He roasts-to-order, creating custom light, medium, and dark blends for his retail clients including Big Y, McQuade’s, and a growing list of restaurants. He’s also just launched Social’s own cold brew, packaged in slick, silver cans.
Tom is very attuned to the “social” experience. He created a space where he hopes people will connect, socialize, and have fun. He even admitted that he reluctantly installed wifi because he really wants his customers to communicate with one another…preferably over a great cup of coffee.
Social offers a variety of coffees (hot or iced, straight or blended), lattes and espresso drinks. Innovative summer sellouts included coffee milkshakes (with real coffee) and gelato drizzled with espresso. There is also an assortment of pastries including croissants, scones, muffins, and bagels, delivered fresh daily.
117 Water Street, Stonington
Hours: 7 am – 4 pm, 7 days a week
Espresso Bar in Velvet Mill
It was a local boy who spent summers working at Dodson Boatyard that brought Angélica Suárez Poveda to Stonington from South America, where she worked for the Red Cross while studying political science and international affairs. The Borough, after all, is a pretty easy sell she says — “the quality of life and sense of community is something I’ve found nowhere else.”
Opening Macondo may not have been a natural career progression, but her love for coffee and her native Colombia made it inevitable. Like a great wine sommelier, Angélica has a sophisticated palate. She can easily differentiate aromas and pinpoint esoteric influences that give nuance to the taste.
“In one country, you can find a world of coffee.”
— Angélica Suárez Poveda
Macondo proudly serves six varieties of Devoción — a brand of Colombian coffee that ranges in flavor from bold to fruity. It also pays farmers fair prices, enabling them to grow a variety of crops such as cacao, nuts, plantains, and berries that enrich and enhance the soil. The beans are picked from small farms situated in diverse micro-climates, shipped to New York via FedEx, then roasted in Brooklyn. It’s a farm-to-cup process in less than 20 days.
In addition to an outrageously good cup (or bag) of coffee, there are five fresh juice combos (try the “Green Lemonade” a mix of cucumber, spinach, apple, and lemon or “Glowing Skin” – carrot, ginger, and celery), and five of the most satisfying and delicious smoothies (Mixed Berries, Creamy Green, Fruity Green, Yummy or Detox). You can also create your own.
The interior is simple, modern, and colorful and showcases a gallery of rotating artists. The countertop, painted by local painter Gray Park, was inspired by Caño Cristales, a river Angélica visited when she was a child.
Angélica credits Macondo’s success with her “amazing, loveable, friendly” baristas. She invests heavily in her team, educating and training them in the art and science of coffee. She also tries to promote a sense of ownership, encouraging them to follow their dreams and assisting when she can.
530 Stonington Road, Stonington
Hours: 6:30 am – 4 pm, Monday through Friday,
7 am – 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday
Geri Moran used to sneak away from her ice cream shop in Misquamicut Beach for a meal at her favorite Stonington Borough restaurant — Dog Watch Café. During an after-dinner stroll, she spotted 17 High Street and knew it would be the ideal place for her café. She dreamed of a place that embodied mornings spent making sandwiches and packing school lunches for her three boys.
Geri humbly admits that it’s taken three years to perfect Indulge Coffee and Sandwich Co.
Fresh off a charming rebrand and renovation, the team at Indulge focuses on making and serving breakfast, lunch, pastries, and ice cream with love.
“We let the experts make the coffee.”
— Geri Moran
After a whirlwind coffee-taste-testing-tour, Geri settled on her favorite — New Harvest Coffee — a family-owned, specialty roastery from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. They roast to order and ship for next day delivery. She says, “It’s consistent. It’s delicious. And I love it.” They grind the beans right before they brew for hot or iced coffee, so it’s always fresh.
Indulge serves a mix of drinks (nitro cold brew, lattes, matcha, iced tea, frappes) and pastries. They generously stuff their sandwiches with the best ingredients they can get (bread from New York, sauces made in-house). Customer favorites include the 71W: grilled chicken, avocado, spinach, bacon, and chipotle aioli on a baguette; or the Sweet Sunday: two eggs, sausage, and cheese on a grilled Portuguese sweet roll.
Without prodding, Geri reveals her biggest reward is getting to know her customers in a way that wasn’t possible through the sliding window of an ice cream bar. “Indulge is magical in the mornings. The customers know each other. They’re talking, eating, happy” she says. Maybe it’s love.
17 High Street, Stonington
Hours: 7 am – 2 pm, Monday through Friday,
7 am – 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday (kitchen closes at 2 pm)