Patience is not a virtue of mine.
And while I understand that standing in line is just something we all must do, I have come up with numerous ways to avoid lines, such as going grocery shopping at 7:00 a.m. (It's actually quite lovely. Try it.)
But, when it comes to grabbing a cup of coffee, that's when I find it unbearable to wait in line for very long. Plus, I need my coffee in the morning, when my lack of patience is at an all time high.
Here's how some of our local coffee shops fared when I just had to have my cup of joe.
Darien Doughnut is a catch-22 for me. While I simply adore their coffee, I don't adore the long wait times.
With my go-to Noroton Heights Station right across the street and the on-ramp to I-95 a block away, it seems the logical stop off for a cup of coffee.
The scenario is always the same: each staff member helping each customer from beginning to end. Meaning they take the order, get the order, including preparing any food items such as egg sandwiches and bagels, and then ring the person up at the register.
It's a procedure that doesn't work, whether it's busy or not.
Plus it seems to be a place where people bring their small children, which always causes a back-up.
I try to allow myself more time, especially when I am catching the train, because the coffee really is wonderful.
These guys have it down to a science. They deploy a wonderful team, with each member assigned to a particular task.
I often walk in and find myself in the back of a pack of latte drinking, gotta-go workhorses, or ladies who are there to chat the morning away. Either way, the line goes by very quickly.
"Anybody for an espresso drink?" the barista shouts before folks even get to the register to place their order.
Food is often grabbed by the staff member that's closest to the refrigerator case, and anything that needs to be warmed up is handed off to yet another team player.
There's no doubt that you pay a premium for Starbucks coffee, but I believe the consistency and level of service is worth the few extra cents.
Like their competition (you know, the one with green logo), you can tell these guys know how to handle a crowd. This is where you really see customers on the move.
Many early morning visits to DD had my car sandwiched between large trucks in their tiny parking lot. With all the construction going on by the I-95 ramps, it seemed the entire project team was calling DD their home.
Add them to the downtown train station commuter brigade, and you have one hoppin' joint!
While not as polished as "the other one," Dunkin staffs its counter with an ample number of people, all of whom are some of the friendliest I've encountered at six in the morning.
While the coffee and donuts are commercially pleasing, Dunkin Donuts is a comfort zone of sorts. You always know what to expect.
I've grown to really like Panera.
A bakery/cafe, it offers some of the best pastries and breads in town and the self-serve coffee station is heaven.
The spaciousness of the Panera entry has a calming effect, so even when it is jammin' with people, you don't feel packed in. That makes for a more relaxing wait—if there is any.
I've been here at all different times of the day, and it never made a difference in service, coffee or food quality, or even the pleasantness of the staff.
Perhaps not many coffee lovers think of Panera as a place for coffee, but you really should.
What can I say? Espresso Neat is the epitome of coffee shops.
However, I don't regard it as a "quick stop" for high octane fuel. I'd say it's more of a place to start your day or take a break in the day, and linger over a frothy cappuccino and a sweet treat.
The folks at Espresso Neat will surely get you moving and on your way if that's what you so desire. But I prefer to visit this charming café when I can savor the high quality of their fresh "current coffees" that change frequently.
It's one of the few places where you can enjoy a cup of coffee al fresco, so take the time to savor Espresso Neat.
Good Food Good Things
Need a quick fix? Self-serve coffee it is! (5-6 types)
Park in the back lot, enter through the back door and you are ten steps away from coffee nirvana. There's always a fast checkout and wonderful baked goods if you are so inclined.
Need I say more?