Freshly made espresso just steps from a corporate office?
It sounds like the stuff of executive dreams.
Yet, tenants of 100 West Putnam Ave. and surrounding residents in Greenwich now have gourmet coffee literally at their doorstep, with Espresso NEAT operating a coffee bar in the lobby of the office building.
Espresso NEAT is better known as the outpost for gourmet coffee in Darien, where Rachel Haughey opened a cafe in 2009 to bring handmade, quality coffee to Connecticut. Since then, Haughey has been longing to expand to other parts of Fairfield County; this Greenwich coffee bar, which has been open for about a month, represents the first test of the market.
"Just having a physical presence there allows us to do things in Greenwich," Haughey said. "We're there in the lobby first and foremost for the tenants, but the lobby is open to the public and we've definitely seen a lot of customers who know us from Darien, but are closer to Greenwich."
NEAT in Greenwich, like the coffee shop's larger counterpart in Darien, offers a full espresso bar and fresh coffee made by the cup, along with snacks like chocolate, chips, and sandwiches from Green and Tonic. To cater to the office crowd, NEAT in Greenwich, which is run by cafe manager Joanne Zambo, also brews coffee in bulk quantities for those early morning conferences or lunch meetings.
Like so many entrepreneurial ventures, Espresso NEAT sprung out of a deep-seated love -- in Haughey's case, for well-made coffee. The germ of the idea began when Haughey left the corporate world in 2008, as the walls of the financial world began to crumble, and wanted to invest something in the Fairfield County community she had recently moved to. Trained as a barista at Gimme Coffee in New York City, Haughey "decided to pursue something I was passionate about."
"I found myself in Connecticut without a good coffee place I loved, inspired anew, and with a lot of time on my hands," Haughey said.
Haughey is enthusiastic about the science of coffee, elaborating on the right balance of water to ground beans that produces the "sweet spot" of peak flavor, or paying close attention to the perennial nature of coffee harvesting.
"We are coffee geeks beyond coffee geeks," Haughey said. "We want the true nature of the coffee to shine through."