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Article Published March 29, 2019
Some Mud in Your Mug
Jenn McCulloch, Correspondent

Dunkin' or 'Bucks? A quick way to start an argument is to declare your love for one of the famous chain coffee shops over the other. But in between the green and the orange lie several local roasting companies, who not only also serve up coffee and specialty drinks but roast their beans fresh in unique blends. One World Roasters in East Haven and Ashlawn Farm Coffee in Old Saybrook are two of these specialty shops.

One World Roasters

For 20 years, Eric Ciolino ran an organic landscaping company, but eight years ago, his focus changed from greens to beans. As the owner and chief coffee roaster of One World Roasters, Ciolino has maintained his dedication to organic products and the environment, roasting and selling wholesale coffee beans to specialty markets, cafés, and restaurants.

One World Roasters' products have been available online since 2012, and in 2015, in addition to the East Haven roasting space, One World Wellness was founded, featuring classes in SuDo Taoist Yoga and breathing meditation. The company expanded again this past January with a new retail café and espresso bar.

The café and espresso bar features coffees that are sourced through a fair-trade and organic importer, except one direct-trade and organic coffee from the Dominican Republic. The shop roasts and serves only 100 percent arabica coffee beans as well as baked goods like muffins, scones, and croissants from G Café in Branford.

"The café is a small yet comfortable environment for relaxing at the window counter, sitting at tables and stools, or lounging on a cushioned bench," says Ciolino. "The bench area has cushions and pillows made from our upcycled burlap coffee sacks made by a local company, Altered & Re-Fab."

Ashlawn Farm Coffee

What started off as "just for fun" for Carol Adams has since grown into Ashlawn Farm Coffee. Adams began roasting beans and then brewing pots of coffee in 2002 in an old milk room on her farm. She put a sign on the road and began to draw customers.

"Immediately customers on our rural little road let me know that I had to up my game and roast and brew in greater volume," says Adams. "I realized it was becoming serious and the public forced me to grow. I was farm-raising my first two kids, who were three and four at the time, and I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into, but I went with it."

Adams added on to her milk room and created an espresso bar. Over the years, she has upgraded her roaster three times, now working with a 30-kilogram roaster, and moved into a larger barn on the property before moving to the café and roastery's new home at Saybrook Junction.

"It's clear when customers arrive in our café, that they are the reason we exist. Our coffee organization is thriving because of our great customers, and we work hard to let every person who comes through know that we are here to serve them, and we will work to win their loyalty," Adams says. "They can also expect to encounter the best coffees you'll ever find anywhere."

Local Blends

At One World Roasters, customers can also choose from a variety of the house-roasted blends, including the Worldly Blend, which is served every morning. The Worldly Blend is the shop's signature blend that begins with roasting coffee beans from South America, Africa, and Indonesia. Each type of bean is slow-roasted to develop its natural characteristic separately before being blended together as the Worldly Blend.

In addition, One World Roasters' café also features a different single-origin coffee selection each month as well as a variety of espresso drinks, including shots, lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and machiattos. Customers can see the coffee roaster, which has an infrared burner that uses natural gas and produces low emissions, through a viewing window into the roastery.

"Our beans are roasted within 48 hours of grinding or deliver. Our roaster is eco-friendly, and we do not have to transport coffees long distances to our café or other wholesale customers so there is less use of fossil fuels," says Ciolino. "Supporting a local roaster provides jobs, the roaster pays taxes locally and may be more likely to spend or put their money back into the local community."

Like One World Roasters, the beans at Ashlawn Farm Coffee are also freshly roasted. More than 1,000 pounds of beans are freshly roasted each week for café customers, retail locations, as well as restaurants. In the café shop, 27 selections by the bag are available, including single-origin and blends.

In addition to freshly brewed coffees, Ashlawn Farm Coffee's café also offers a great array of espresso drinks, Chemex pour-overs, three different auto-drip coffees, and house-made food selections from locally sourced products, including breakfast sandwiches, muffins, scones, brownies, pastries, salads, soups, and sandwiches.

"Folks stay for their coffee and breakfast or get takeout on their way to work or play or before getting on a train here at the station," says Adams. "Most of our coffees fall into categories including Organic, Fair Trade, Utz Kapeh, Rainforest Alliance, Café Femenino, or Direct Trade. We pride ourselves on a variety of origins and roast levels so that we have something to please everyone that comes through."

While the blends and roasting are done locally, Adams sources most of her beans directly from farms across the globe. Adams enjoys building relationships with them and their communities, helping school children in different areas and sourcing her beans from the farmers who need her support most.

"We have a direct trade relationship with this farm [Nicaragua El Recreo Estate coffee], and we have become good friends of the family and supporters of the farm projects," Adams says. "Because of the current political situation, we are committed to roasting and brewing a large percentage of the farm's coffee in order to support the farm during these difficult times. Their coffee consistently wins awards such as Cup of Excellence and is usually scoring over 90 in cupping competitions."

Where to Find Locally Roasted Coffee

As the popularity of Ashlawn Farm Coffee grew while Adams was still in her original milk barn, she began receiving calls from local grocery stores and cafés requesting wholesale coffee. She now roasts and sells her products to about 65 stores and cafés throughout Connecticut and New York.

In addition to being available at restaurants, cafés, and grocery stores throughout the state and in the café in Old Saybrook, Ashlawn Farm Coffee is also available online. The online shop also offers a variety of accessories and gifts, such as chocolate-covered espresso beans, mugs, and more.

One World Roasters' blends are also available online by the bag as well as in gift baskets. Locally, their blends can be found at Pa's Place in Guilford, the Madison Cheese Shop, and several New Haven establishments, including Oak Haven Table & Bar, Ninth Square Market, and mActivity Fitness Center. The company works closely with wholesale customers to create unique custom roasts, including Burch's Blend at mActivity, which was made by collaborating with the center's owner Burch Valldejuli and general manager Lia Sabin.

Bean Recommendations

Dark roasts:

One World Roasters: Colombian El Toro, Sumatra Takengon, Black Kat Espresso roast
Ashlawn Farm Coffee: Captain Bill's Bold Blend, Black Angus

Light Roasts:

One World Roasters: Ethiopian Yirchacheffe, Kenyan Manganjo
Ashlawn Farm Coffee: Nicaragua El Recreo Estate, Villa Borghesi Blend


One World Roasters: Peruvian Cajamarca dark roast
Ashlawn Farms Coffee: El Recreo Estate Decaf

One World Roasters
967 North High Street
East Haven

Ashlawn Coffee
455 Boston Post Rd
Old Saybrook