Hampton Coffee Company: A Great Cup of Joe
by john bobey
|Hamptons Coffee Company beans, awaiting the daily grind|
“This will be our second year offering our holiday blend,” says Jason Belkin, owner of the Water Mill landmark Hampton Coffee Company. “It took us 17 years to create, but we waited until we got something that we really wanted to share.”
For decades, the simple cup of coffee was something people relied upon but took for granted. Then connoisseurs like Belkin recognized that truly transcendent coffee was an attainable, everyday luxury and began offering top-quality custom coffee blends, including the esteemed holiday blend now available at Hampton Coffee Company. “Eighteen years ago, it was really unique to open an espresso bar,” says Belkin. “Most people didn’t even know what a latte was, let alone one made with locally hand-roasted coffee.”
Most gourmet coffee—even at the most exclusive, highest-end cafés—is roasted who knows where, when, or by whom. It could be weeks or even months old, with the delicate roasting process controlled by computer. “Our only computer is the one that prints out the labels,” says Belkin, who runs Hampton Coffee Company’s three locations alongside his wife, Theresa. Every morning roastmaster Dwight Amade hand-roasts a proprietary blend of beans from Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, and other optimal growing areas; they are then ground less than an hour before they are finally brewed on the East End in one of Hampton Coffee’s signature blends, including the East Hampton, made with Hawaiian Kona, or Westhampton Beach, using beans from Indonesia, Africa, and Central America.
“As [someone] passionate about the availability of artisanal mushrooms from local farms, honey from East End hives, and goat’s- and cow’s-milk cheeses from the North and South Forks, I treasure the regional significance of Hampton Coffee,” says Silvia Lehrer, author of the locavore cookbook Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End.
Open since 1994, Hampton Coffee Company’s main location in Water Mill is a converted 1940s filling station. In the summer, the doors open to reveal the roasting process, and the heavenly aroma of freshly baked muffins and scones has devotees lining up at 5:30 in the morning. A second location in Westhampton Beach opened in 2005, and Belkin added a Mobile Espresso Unit in 2009 that offers the same quality espresso at popular Hamptons philanthropic events like The Hampton Classic and Super Saturday.
In making coffee, there are but two basic ingredients—coffee and water, produced on quality equipment. Asserts Belkin, “A cup of coffee that was roasted the day before and brewed on proper equipment and served by real baristas is going to taste much better.”
photographs by gettyimages.com