Bleary-eyed Branchville commuters now have a few more options for their morning caffeine fix. Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee has opened across the street from the Branchville train station at 51 Ethan Allen Highway (Route 7) in Ridgefield. Owners Joe and Laura Ancona, the same family that owns and runs nearby Ancona’s Market and Ancona’s Wines & Liquors, opened Tusk & Cup in November, a fine complement to the family-owned businesses and this burgeoning neighborhood of small businesses.
The shop, a comfortable take on the traditional coffee shops and gelaterias of Italy, balances Italian style with American coffee shop creature comforts. A bar-height marble counter and seating along a front window gives way to a cozier rear filled with tables, a couch and fireplace. Connecting these areas is the heart of Tusk & Cup, an L-shaped marble counter from which coffee, tea, gelato and treats such as scones, soup and sandwiches are served seven days a week.
The real magic of Tusk & Cup comes in the form of freshly roasted coffee beans from Bill O'Keefe of Redding Roasters of Bethel which we profiled in A Tale of Two Roasters. Single-origin beans and Tusk & Cup’s signature blend called "Branchville Brew" – a combination of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rican and Indonesian Sumatra beans – anchor an ample coffee menu powered by four distinct brewing methods.
Tusk & Cup caters to both ends of the caffeine spectrum, the grab-and-go commuters and the discerning coffee drinkers. If you’re late for a train, you can grab a quick pour of pre-brewed coffee made with recently roasted Redding Roasters beans. If you're an espresso-based drink fan, you’ll be drawn to the La Marzocco like a moth to a flame. Iced coffee? A cold brew contraption, making what is often referred to as Kyoto-style coffee, will more than aid you in your plight for a smooth, cold cup. And for the rest of us, allow me to introduce you to the Trifecta machine. Used at coffee shops like Café Grumpy in NYC and in just one other location in Connecticut, the Trifecta aims to elevate your single cup pour-over coffee experience from decent to down-right divine.
This is the part of the post where coffee geeks will tune in (and turn on) and Dunkin Donuts drinkers may drop out. The Trifecta, a high-tech single-cup coffee machine from Bunn, is an automated take on the pour-over technique that has been fueling the single-brewed cup trend of late. The Trifecta is calibrated to suit any of the five types of single-origin beans that rotate on a regular basis, based on season and availability. This brew method combines the freshness and individuality that pour-over style is best suited to, with the consistency of a perfectly-calibrated machine to remove human error. The Trifecta stands-out in its precision and control of three important brew variables – temperature, turbulence and pressure.
In addition to your cup of coffee, several other local vendors are prominently featured in the deli cases full of baked goods, including Deborah Ann's of Ridgefield, Daily Fare of Bethel and Cake Box of Ridgefield. Ancona’s Market supplies the sandwiches and the house-made gelatos are made with Connecticut Farmer’s Milk and Italian imported products.
As for the elephant inspiration, according to Tusk & Cup’s website, “Elephants have always held a special place in both Italian heritage and the Ancona family. Elephants are a symbol of wisdom, power, loyalty, intelligence, and strength. Elephant figurines placed on shelves or by doorways are said to ensure longevity and luck. And we want to wish Tusk & Cup a long and prosperous stay in Branchville!"
If location is any indication of longevity, Tusk & Cup will be here to stay. The shop stands on the footprint that was originally home to Ancona’s Market from the 1950’s to 1980 before they moved just a few hundred yards north to where the Market stands today.
Having tried the pre-brewed, the Trifecta and a cappucinno with the perfect amount crema, it struck me. Finally there is good, no make that great, coffee up in my northern Fairfield County neck of the woods.
Tusk & Cup is open daily at 6 a.m. and is located at 51 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield, CT. Find them online at www.tuskandcup.com. More information about Redding Roasters coffee at www.reddingroasters.com/