If there’s one trend that remains smoking hot in the American coffee scene, it’s modeling a new cafe on the perceived norms of coffee culture in Australia and New Zealand. Typically that means a bunch of food in the cafe; occasionally it reaches full flower of inspiration from the source material, in which an actual restaurant is owned and operated by a coffee company.
Here in Willimantic, Connecticut, the concept behind Grounded Coffee Company came from travel to the Antipodes—Australia and New Zealand, to be exact, although you shouldn’t lump the two together (you wouldn’t lump Canada and America, right?). Grounded is offering up some of the East Coast’s best coffee roasters, bundled together in a charming Victorian house. Let’s go there!
As told to Sprudge by Nick Bentley, Quality Control Manager/Barista Trainer at Grounded Coffee Company.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
The idea behind Grounded Coffee Company came together when two people’s life passions became mixed with a love of the “coffee culture” Australia had to offer. While Steven and Victoria traveled Australia and New Zealand, not a day went by when the couple did not visit and enjoy the local coffee shops. Many of them featuring exceptional coffee with a laid back atmosphere. Grounded has become a mix of the couple’s values; Steve always dreamed of having a successful business while Victoria has always felt strongly about ethical values, fair wages, and giving back. I’ve had the opportunity to create and coordinate our coffee program. We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with a number of coffee roasters on our beloved East Coast who we think are exceptional at what they do. Sourcing and roasting coffee that is of the highest quality while having the farmers and producers best interest in mind. At its core, Grounded is committed to improving the quality of life for everyone involved; ranging from our baristas to the farmers who grew the coffee, to the customers we are fortunate enough to serve every day.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We are very excited to be setting up shop in the bottom floor of a small Victorian house, right on Main Street, Willimantic. It is a little piece of history perfectly placed amongst the brick buildings lining Main Street. The house was built in 1831 and there is an awful lot of history running through both our building and the town surrounding it.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We believe that coffee is one of the most delicious and complex fruits that we have available to us. We are excited to be working with roasters who highlight seasonality and obsessively bring out the best that each coffee has to offer during the roasting process. We also believe that coffee has tremendous power to bring people together and elevate not only their day, but their lives as well.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We are really fortunate to be working primarily with Ceremony (Annapolis, Maryland) and Giv Coffee (Canton, Connecticut). We also look forward to implementing a rotating menu for manual brewing where we can highlight roasters such as Lofted (Bushwick, New York) and Tandem (Portland, Maine). This is a very exciting time to work in specialty coffee, and there are so many people who are doing great things both in our industry and outside of it.
For espresso service, we’ll be using a Linea Classic EE two-group and Mahlkönig K30 Air. For filter coffee, we’ll be using a FETCO XTS-3L, ceramic Kalita Waves, and glass handled Chemex. Grinding duties will be handled by a Mahlkönig EK 43.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We are handling most of the design for our shop in house, but we are working closely with Tim Schofield of Schofield Design & Remodeling who has been extremely helpful in connecting us to the right craftspeople and making some of our grand ideas a little more realistic. Our good friends MBK Murals made a whole collection of beautiful hand-painted signs for us that will be proudly displayed both inside and outside.
Photos courtesy of Winter Caplanson.