Originally posted in Seven Days
By Corin Hirsch [04.30.13]
For the three years that Chris and Heidi Townsend owned Black Cap Coffee in Stowe, they felt like the business had a split personality, they say. In front, they were running a busy café that they both loved; in the back, they were roasting coffee for a growing network of clients.
Last winter, the Townsends decided to sell the café (to Spanish native Laura Vilalta) and focus solely on the hot drinks. They serve those at their new spot, Brave Coffee & Tea Co., in the Cabot Annex plaza in Waterbury Center.
“We were essentially running two businesses, and it was hard to expand roasting with that kind of setup,” Chris Townsend says. “Here, we’re sticking to a hot menu that focuses on the quality of the drinks.”
Behind a glass wall in their new retail shop and roastery is a roasting machine that Chris Townsend, a former ceramicist, built himself (“and built and rebuilt,” he jokes). There, he roasts coffee for clients such as the Trapp Family Lodge.
Out front is a mélange of gifts, as well as a counter where Heidi Townsend serves up what her husband calls “a traditional Italian menu of espressos and espresso coffee drinks,” such as macchiato and cappuccino (plus a not-so-traditional maple latte). On a wall behind the counter, shelves hold gleaming, copper-hued urns filled with a variety of teas — Heidi’s passion.
“I spent all winter tasting tea,” she says, and jokes that she and her husband vie with each other to give their preferred beverage pride of place in the shop. He favors coffee; for her, tea “is a window into the rest of the world.” The loose-leaf teas for sale by the cup or the ounce include Jasmine Green, and a floral, addictive Coconut Oolong.
Despite their allegiance to competing brews, wife and husband agree that the brewing of coffee and tea takes care and time — as evidenced by the high-end tea infusers they use and the Kyoto drip tower they plan to employ this summer for iced coffees. “Those little rituals in our lives, such as coffee and tea, are a way to savor and explore,” Heidi Townsend says.
Find Brave Coffee & Tea Co. at 2657 Route 100, Waterbury Center, open daily.