MADISON — Eager patrons start arriving before the 6 a.m. opening of the Madison Coffee House. By 8 a.m., a queue has formed at the counter, tables are filling up and it’s business as usual for Madison’s newest coffee shop.
“We are in a league of our own,” says co-owner Joe Harvey. “What we do here is, we roast our own coffee, the roaster’s going right now…after 24 hours we can serve it. It’s about as fresh as you can get for coffee.
“All of our food is made from scratch — our pancakes, our sauces, our salsa is fresh — made by our staff in the back,” he adds. “Besides having all the different coffees, all the fresh foods, we have internet in this café, also.
“We give you a restaurant experience, basically, without having to wait and sit down for all your food,” he says.
Open just two months, the 1,400 square foot cafe already has a loyal following. Madison residents Joe and Denise Harvey established the Madison location after the success of the Guilford Coffee House, opened in December 2017.
“The Harveys have built a wonderful neighborly meeting place in the middle of Madison,” says local resident Ann Nyberg.
“They are part of what I love so much about the shoreline town which I have always called "Mayberry by the Sea," an ode to the popular 1960s television show where Aunt Bee and Sheriff Andy Taylor and Barney Fife and little Opie knew everybody in town,” she adds.
A lifelong Madison resident, Harvey knew he wanted to open a Madison establishment, he just had to wait for the perfect location. The café is at the southwest corner of downtown courtyard between Key Bank and Grand Apizza, the former location of W Salon.
There are benches, a stone wall and café table seating for 16 patrons directly out the front door.
“It’s nice, because it’s turning this whole courtyard into a vibrant community,” Joe Harvey says.
A self-professed social butterfly, Joe Harvey splits his time between Guilford and Madison. He can be found first thing in the morning catching up with his buddies in the Madison location.
Over a span of about three hours friends come and go, beginning their day over a morning brew and lively conversation.
John Naizby, a Madison attorney, is a member of this group. Working and living within walking distance of the Madison Coffee House it has become his daily go-to place for food and drink
“It’s a lively atmosphere,” he says. “It’s a real community place. I see a lot of people and a lot of camaraderie with the guys that sit around in the leather chairs and talk and the food’s great and the coffee good.”
His favorites are the Green Omelet with broccoli, avocado, spinach and cheddar cheese with sweet chili sauce for breakfast and for lunch, the Sully sandwich with chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado and chipotle mayo on a white wrap.
Denise Harvey is a guidance secretary at Madison’s Walter C. Polson Middle School by day and is at the cafe after school and on the weekends. She does all the bookkeeping.
This is truly a family affair, from the front counter, to the kitchen. Two of the Harvey’s four children have worked, off and on, at the Madison location and the head chef, Marvin Flores, is joined by his wife, Fatima and his brother, Joshua in the kitchen, while his daughter, Begonia, works as a barista.
In September the Harveys started roasting their own coffee in the Madison location. Offerings include Nicaragua, Decaf Colombia La Serrania, Peru La Guayusa, Brazil Café Delas and Guatemala Manos de Mujer.
The Madison Coffee House, alone, goes through between 200-250 pounds of coffee a week.
In addition to serving various coffee and espresso drinks, teas and smoothies, there is an extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Breakfast is served all day long.
The menu items range from the Main Street Wrap, scrambled eggs, shaved steak, caramelized onions, American cheese and chili sauce on a white wrap, served with house fries; Avocado Toast with or without egg; bagels; yogurt parfaits with yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, granola and a drizzle of honey to Rainbowkale; and Mediterranean salads and lunch wraps and homemade soups.
“Avocado toast with eggs is probably one of the most popular things on the menu,” Joe Harvey says. “We go through, in both stores, over eight to nine cases of avocados a week, 50 in a case.”
Fresh breads, donuts, hard rolls and baguettes, Danishes and muffins are delivered daily and milk comes from Stearns Family Farm in Storrs. The eggs are all organic.
Nyberg, who admits she is there “all the time,” raves about the food and drink, but especially their bacon, egg, cheese on a croissant.
The Harveys are making a concerted effort to work with other local businesses, including Madison’s Ashley’s Ice Cream, Cohen’s Bagel Company and Guilford’s Take the Cake for sweets.
The Mad Affogato is an example of this collaboration, with a double shot of Jamaican Blue Mountain expresso, poured over Ashley’s vanilla ice cream, topped with whip cream swirl and a drizzle of chocolate.
Moxie Owner Bill Plunkett likes to support other local businesses and is a regular customer.
“They come to Moxie a couple times a week, the reciprocity is a nice thing,” he says as he arrived at 8 a.m. for his breakfast of eggs and a scone.
The Harveys refer to their spot to a "meeting place.”
“It’s a melting pot,” Joe Harvey says. “There’s high school girls over there studying right now…doing their homework, having some coffee.
“Business meetings,” chimes in Denise Harvey.
Guilford resident Kristine Ciardiello frequents the café with her running group.
"Every Saturday we park there, start our run and end there with coffee," she says. "It's becoming a runner's hangout early in the morning.”
Ciardiello refers to it as a “classic hometown coffee house where everybody knows your name.” She enjoys the medium roast coffee and the South of the Border wrap, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, black beans, bacon and salsa in a sundried tomato wrap.
Currently Madison Coffee House is using biodegradable containers and plates, in addition to corn starch drinking straws. Their goal is to be totally green within the year.
They have applied for a liquor license and are excited to start offering evening programs.
In Madison, on Friday, Oct. 4, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. they will be hosting an “Eco-Friendly Night of Music.” This event will include music by Ben Corbett-Baril and a presentation on composting with Blue Earth. The free event is BYOB.
In Guilford, on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. all are invited to the Guilford Coffee House Halloween Bash, 1065 Boston Post Road, Guilford. For more information call 203-533-5860.
The Harveys are excited to be sharing their business with the Shoreline.
“We are a true mom and pop store,” says Joe Harvey. “You get a lot of cafes and restaurants where you don’t see the owners and I don’t want that.
“If you care, you show up and you’re going to thrive,” he adds.
Madison Coffee House, 724 Boston Post Road, Madison, 203-421-2460; Facebook Madison Coffee House. Guilford Coffee House, 1065 Boston Post Road, Guilford, 203-533-5860; Facebook Guilford Coffee House; guilfordcoffeehouse.com