When it comes to coffee many people are either a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. I’m often asked to which chain my java allegiance lies. I drink coffee from both, but my favorite isn’t either one.
I prefer the mom and pop coffee shops, although I confess it isn’t always easy to use them exclusively. I often go through the drive thru Starbucks in Wethersfield on my way to work, and the drive thru Dunkin’ Donuts in Rocky Hill is the closest coffee to WFSB.
But my fave for Joe is JoJo’s, on Pratt Street in downtown Hartford. It has that cool laid back atmosphere you might find in a place like Ann Arbor, Michigan or Greenwich Village. Their breakfast sandwiches and pastries are awesome, though not exactly good for your abs.
Owners Kathy and Bill are wonderful. They are from China and have a tremendous dedication to the renaissance of Hartford. Best of all, JoJo’s is open 7 days a week, and they are open late.
That’s what bugs me about Starbucks. Here they are devoted to the environment, and communities yet out of step with the billion dollars in development happening in your capital city. In fact here is a line from the mission statement on the Starbucks website.
“Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.”
With that in mind, why does the Starbucks in downtown Hartford not cater to the people of Hartford? They are closed on Sundays, evenings, and shut their doors at 2PM on Saturday. Hundreds of people have moved downtown in recent years. Dunkin Donuts has opened 4 locations downtown within blocks of each other. The tallest residential skyscraper in all of New England went up mere yards from Starbuck’s. They are right across the street from the perpetually busy Trumbull Kitchen. JoJo’s is busy on weekends and evenings. Doesn’t Starbucks want to be a part of this?
I’ve actually seen people stare at that Starbucks on a Sunday…disappointed they can’t drop $4 on a latte on their way into a UConn game.
More than a handful of people have complained to me about this strange Starbucks phenomenon. On their behalf I wrote to Starbucks asking why they don’t open on special occasions, for instance First Night Hartford, when 30 thousand people are walking the streets looking for a warm beverage. Why would Starbucks remain closed when vendors set up stands to sell coffee and hot chocolate?
Another great place for coffee downtown is Cafe Bellini, outside the Goodwin Hotel. Gianpaolo Bellini makes a great espresso. I’m also a fan of Tisane in the West End.
I’d love to hear about your favorite coffee. The Houses are always looking for new places to check out.