There is quite the shortage of local, independent coffeehouses in the suburbia of Hartford. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts can be found on nearly every corner of every main intersection, but true, honest to goodness, homegrown coffee shops are sadly few and far in between.

So when I stubbled upon The Bean & Grape in Old Wethersfield, CT, I was more than thrilled.

The little coffee shop is innocuously located in an old, shared building next to the locally famous Comstock & Ferre seed company. Although the shop is not free-standing, it being within an older building gives it a lived in, “I’ve been here before” feeling that is irreplaceable when stopping by for a Sunday morning caffeine fix. The interior was recently renovated and not only are there cozy tables facing Main Street inside the cafe, there are also a fair number of (fenced in) tables outside. These outside tables, where I sat, give a beautiful view of the Comstock and Ferre flower beds. It was a great area to just sit back on your chair, take in the fresh[ish] air, and have a conversation over a relaxing cup o’ joe. The garden and the pleasantly refurbished but aged interior certainly allow for a cozy, cheerful, and pleasant ambiance. I have three words for the setting of this coffee shop: splendid, splendid, splendid.

And, of course, the coffee…the main point of contention when visiting a coffee shop. It was good. I am not a coffee connoisseur so I cannot accurately critque how well the coffee was brewed, how fresh the beans were, etc, etc; but for an average person with a fairly tuned-in palate, the coffee was great. Not too strong or bitter and definitely not watery. I think my favorite part about the coffee is that there is a rotating “regular” blend; some days it might be Ethiopian and some days it might be Columbian so there is a large variety of beans to be found, pleasantly surprising given the shop’s petite size. For non-coffee-drinkers, there is also a large variety of teas, from chai to black to green. [At night, the Bean & Grape serves wine instead of coffee, making this cute little coffee shop transform into a nice place to wind down and taste some good vino. I am underage so of course I cannot partake in the libations as of yet 😉 ].

The Bean & Grape also offers normal coffee shop treats, such as bagel, muffins, and pastries…all I presume to be locally bought or made because of the un-freezerlike quality that my accompanying friend’s bagel had. This may be a hasty assumption, but based on the fact that this is a local coffee shop with local aspirations, I would like to give the benefit of the doubt. Other non-traditional foods are also served, such as fruit plates and summery salads.

But the creme de la creme of this coffee shop had to have been the customer service. The service, which I was not expecting to be all that different from Starbucks, only accentuated the setting and the coffee. Although it was more than apparent that the girls working behind the coffee bar were fairly new at the job, they were 100% willing to do anything to make the customer happy. The girls were extremely personable and did not give off any “you’re just another customer with money for us” vibes–when I ordered an iced coffee, me waiting for the brew to finish was a concern of theirs. Would that sort of thoughtfulness be readily found in any chain place? I think not.

Overall, I give The Bean & Grape 5 out of 5 stars. I was extremely pleased with the service, the quiet and non-intimidating setting, the reasonable prices, and the non-chain carmfrapaccinolatte coffees. Moreover, I am just over the moon that such a cute little local coffee shop has opened up right when supporting local businesses is the “chic” thing to do; I wish it much prosperity and success and I will definitely be a returning customer.

Bean & Grape Cafe $$
251 Main Street, 860-436-6488

[The area under the large tree on the far left is where the outdoor seating for The Bean & Grape can be found]