Grounded, a small artisan coffee spot on Main Street (869) Willimantic, opened about a week ago, and it's been all the buzz. Multiple people suggested I stop in and give it a whirl. It's important to note that I rarely drink coffee lately, but I was happy to make an exception for Grounded.
According to their website:
We couldn't be more excited to announce the launch of a new, quality focused coffee shop in northeastern CT. We are looking forward to highlighting coffee roasters from all over the East Coast who we think do an exceptional job sourcing and roasting coffee. Keep up on our website or follow our Instagram and Facebook pages for all the exciting news leading up to our open, including our pop-up stands all over town. We can't wait to see you all soon.
At first glance, it's almost hard to identify Grounded off the street, save for a few tables outside and an open sign on the rustic door. The building is very homey, and at first glance, the interior is rustic, yet minimalist. This aesthetic works really well in 'organic Willimantic' and the raw wood and burlap touches lend well to the vibe. With this aesthetic, in most coffee shops, some air of pretentiousness is almost expected, however I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and friendly the staff was. I met Nick the barista and Victoria the owner, and both were exceptionally sweet and eager to explain the menu.
Victoria manages the Kerri Studio and Gallery on Main Street, and was inspired to open up a coffeeshop where the atmosphere lent itself to sitting and staying awhile, and that's how Grounded was born.
I tried the Quiche, with ham, asparagus, broccoli, mushroom, and onion, and Madison went full out and got a slice of blackberry pie, and we both ordered iced mocha lattes, with almond milk. Everything was delicious, reasonably priced and presented beautifully. The menu is small, but according to Victoria, it's quickly growing. Bagels are available from Bagel One, and other food is sourced from Willimantic as well. Victoria is looking to seasonally edit and switch out menu items, and keep it very fluid, including seasonal local items.
Coffee, according to Nick, is a community based cultural drink, and Grounded expands coffee culture into an incredibly accessible, welcoming atmosphere, while also providing fair wages to all involved, as well as creating a great product. The name is a nod to coffee, while also alluding to the ethical, fair trade mindset that they strive for. The non-judgey atmosphere allows patrons to learn more about what they're drinking, why ethical production is important, while also still receiving the quality drink they'd get at a snooty, high brow coffee spot.
I learned loads about coffee and how the coffee culture works from Nick, so expect another post soon, detailing the ins and outs of the coffee world, what to look for, and what to run from.
Grounded is a great shop, with a great atmosphere, and I can't wait to come back. I'm dying to try the honey latte, as well as the manually brewed blends. Hit up Grounded, you won't be disappointed.
I've got good news for my fellow tea lovers- I found a gem. Simpson & Vail has been around since 1929, and hails from Brookfield CT, but I'd never gotten a chance to try their tea until recently. They send over a few teas to sample, and I can say with complete confidence that they know exactly what they're doing. I tried Louisa May Alcott's Green Tea Blend first, and it was incredible, and a clear favorite. The fruit and nut pairings worked really well with the green tea, and not only was it super aromatic, but it tasted as lovely as it smelled.
The second tea I tried was Jane Austen's Black Tea Blend, and I loved it. The mint really added depth to the flavor, and the inclusion of vanilla made it a lot more unique.
I also tried the Almond Sugar Cookie Tea, and the almond was strong, but not aggressive. I've found this to be a great breakfast tea. It plays really nicely with early morning vibes.
Finally, I tried the Caramel Walnut Shortbread Tea, and this was another favorite. The caramel and walnut blended together, creating an aromatic masterpiece. I no longer drink coffee, and this tea almost reminded me of my caramel latte days, and I loved it.