By Eileen Weber
If you’re looking for a great place to enjoy an organic, fair trade cup of coffee, head to Steam Coffee Bar on the northbound side at the Westport train station. Opening their doors only about a month ago, they also have a coffee shop at the Greens Farms train station house.
It’s a cute little space, homey and relaxing. Large windows stream in natural light and wood tones give it a warm feeling. The hustle and bustle of everyday commuting might make it a bit too busy, but it is a nice place to hang out. (Their Greens Farms location is much smaller. So if you’re looking for a new meeting spot, you may want to choose the Westport shop.)
Fairfield Green Food Guide stopped by to check it out. We tried their coffee from Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters, the only USDA Certified Organic coffee roaster in Connecticut. In a previous article on this site, we sang owner Ed Freedman’s praises so we knew we were in for a great cup of coffee. And if you’re a tea drinker, they’ve got a nice display of loose teas from Arogya in Westport. Steam co-owner Briana Pennell hand-packs the tea blends for an extra fresh cup.
While we were there, Freedman stopped by to check in. “I like to make sure everyone is happy,” he said. “They’re a great customer to have and they’re great exposure.”
We also enjoyed their tasty treats. Some of them are handmade by Pennell, a pastry chef who runs the Westport shop while co-owner Chris Barrett runs Greens Farms. She made the muffins “du jour” lovingly wrapped in parchment paper.
“That’s our little hand stamp,” Pennell wryly smiled. “Everything’s handmade.”
Pennell knocked the blueberry muffin out of the park. It was saturated with enough blueberries to pack it full of fruit flavor but not so much as to overpower the moist dough. Some may prefer fluffier muffins, but the density weighed against the fruit-packed flavor still gave it a thumb’s up. Too many blueberry muffins have that ubiquitous granulated sugar top. This one didn’t and for good reason—it didn’t need it. It was perfectly sweet on its own.
We also tried the Morning Glory muffin, which is one of the many gluten-free menu items. With an adorable display of slivered almonds on the top and obvious amounts of shredded carrot in the batter, this one was pretty good as gluten-free muffins go. However, this one is a little trickier to review because it has to serve a certain purpose. Being gluten-free means the dough will automatically have a different consistency and elasticity by not having that grain-based fiber present. We did find the dough a little too moist at the bottom and the texture compact and heavy. So if you don’t like chewy muffins, this may not be for you. However, if you have a gluten allergy, you may have just found your new go-to hot spot.
“The gluten-free stuff is my favorite,” said Pennell of all the baked goods she sells. “It’s a more pure diet. I had surgery on my stomach and I just feel better not eating it.”
Many of their lunchtime to-go offerings, like hummus, wraps, juices, and salads, come from Grass+Rxoots in Greenwich. In our previous review of Grass+Rxoots, we raved about their food. So it was with eager anticipation that we picked up Hearty Cracker bread, something we hadn’t tried before. We adored it and it reminded us of the crust on their raw pizza. Cumin and roasted red pepper with just enough garlic gives this crunchy little number a good kick.
One pleasant surprise was discovering a new granola bar. If you’re really in a hurry, pick up an 8 to the Bar, an organic granola bar from a company based in Westport that manufactures in Bridgeport. It was properly moist and nutty with just enough honey and fig to sweeten it without being overdone. There are some granola bars that drip with honey or brown sugar and, often times, chocolate that takes away the health benefits. It really just becomes a candy bar. But this was organic through and through with a natural, buttery sweetness. Oh so good for you!
Steam likes to support other local businesses as well. They’ve got Red Bee Honey from Weston, Doc’s Maple Syrup from New York, Cold Roman from Raus Coffee in Stamford, and all their dairy products are from The Farmer’s Cow in Lebanon.
The only possible downside to this cute little spot is the parking. You need to be careful to snag a space in front of the shop or one that allows visitor parking. Because this area has so many commuters, it can be difficult to scope out a space whether you’ve got a Smart Car or a gas-guzzling Suburban. However, the MTA Security will often pop in to make sure they don’t ticket patrons of the shop.
So when the weather turns less frigid, forget about the parking, grab your bike, and head down to Steam for a nice cappuccino with a heady froth. Sit back and enjoy!
Steam is located at 1 Ferry Lane in Westport and 2 Post Office Lane in Greens Farms. Briana Pennell can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 203-919-1916. Chris Barnett can be reached at Greens Farms at email@example.com or 203-536-7523.