A sweet sip by the seaside at Rhode Island’s Coffee Grinder.Photo Credit : Erin McGinn
Set out on a java-inspired journey to one of these New England cafés where the view is as buzz-worthy as the brews, and turn your coffee run into a day trip to remember.
If your coffee cravings are as powerful as Lorelai Gilmore’s, a double dose of exhilaration is in store at this petite bakery and café on the green in Washington, the Connecticut town that inspired Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. You’ll be looking at its historic architecture—not a TV set—as you sip one of chef-owner Maggie Colangelo’s playful beverages, like a latte swirled with her own Flirtation Farms lavender syrup. But whether you’ve settled at an outdoor table or on a stool at the old-time soda fountain, you’ll love sampling farm-fresh comfort food and binge-watching the goings-on at the hub of this small Litchfield Hills community.
It’s like coffee theater when Lea King works behind the pouring station that her partner, Wayne Gelinas, built from wood that once supported the building’s first pump. Kettle in each hand, she can craft up to six cups of flavor-rich, pour-over coffee at once. On summer days, though, curious motorists who pull over at this resurrected Mohawk Trail landmark often opt for the refreshingly smooth cold brew: It’s become a local legend—along with monster-size maple-bourbon whoopie pies—since these creative owners transformed a long-abandoned gift shop into a café and cabin resort. Take your coffee out to the deck, where show-stealing, panoramic views encompass mountains in three states. In a heartbeat, you’ll understand why this scene has been called “America’s Switzerland” for a century.
In the early morning or pre-sunset hours, when golden light rests on the bay, there’s no better spot to put down your phone, pick up a dirty chai or frozen cappuccino, and feel swept up in the life of Newport Harbor. Hidden at the end of Bannister’s Wharf, Alyssa Gladchun’s coffee shack attracts caffeine aficionados to its handful of tables, benches, and Adirondack chairs. Join them in savoring hand-brewed Italian espresso beverages, which start with beans that are small-batch-roasted in a historic Massachusetts gristmill. Add a pastry, sandwich, or chowder to your order, and you’ll have cause to linger as sails are raised, lobsters are unloaded, and this classic seaport adheres to its heritage.
Venture 14 miles south of Brunswick to the southern tip of Orr’s Island for breakfast or lunch at Alison Prince’s seasonal takeaway café, and the briny air will perk you up even before your first sip of Maine-roasted Carrabassett Coffee. Nab an outdoor table or angle your own chair to watch boats bobbing in Harpswell Sound or cars crossing the world’s only granite cribstone bridge on their way to Bailey Island. Prince, whose great-great-grandfather opened a general store here in 1845, showcases local ingredients like the wild blueberries and other Maine-harvested fruits she bakes into scones and muffins. The Wicked Big iced coffee, a summertime favorite, was an accidental invention, though: Customers demanded their own 32-ounce cold jolts when they saw an employee chugging from a quart-size chowder container.
You don’t have to be a resort guest to kick back on the Kaffeehaus deck with cappuccino and strudel and the same stunning mountain view that reminded the von Trapp family—those famed singers turned hospitality entrepreneurs—of their Austrian homeland. If the high hills of the Worcester Range don’t make you come alive, the Austrian-style coffee, roasted locally by Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co., certainly will. Sweet pastries and chocolate-glazed Sacher torte are balanced by savories like wurst sandwiches, hand-twisted pretzels, and fresh-gathered eggs on homemade English muffins. When shaggy Highland cattle graze just below, as they often do, claim a pasture-side picnic table and enjoy your favorite things in the company of these adorably friendly beasts.