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Shelburne Falls: hand-roasted coffee in Hadley

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If you’re thinking of switching from your usual fast-food chain coffee and leaving the non-fat, no whip, double espresso, mocha-whatever behind, you should. If you believe that your next best option is making your way into Amherst center to one of the over-crowded local shops, think again.

As a freshman, I was overjoyed when my friend first introduced me to the local coffee shops in Amherst, and convinced me to stop going to Starbucks. I really felt like I was integrating myself into Amherst, becoming a “townie.” But little did I know, beyond the intersection of Pleasant and Main Street, there was more to be discovered.

I recently heard about a coffee shop nearby called Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters. The closest one of their six locations is their shop in Hadley. It is nestled right on Route 9, at 322 Russell Street, just across the way from the Whole Foods shopping center. Although their location does not easily stand out, as it took three years of me driving by there to finally notice them, they are certainly a good find.

Shelburne Falls is your typical  “mom and pop” coffee shop. There is definitely a sense of community within the shop, as can be deduced from the walls of local flyers. Founders Kathy Lytle and Curtis Rich began their coffee endeavors over 20 years ago. They have nurtured Shelburne Falls to be the successful multi-location business that it is today, starting from experimenting with coffee on their first espresso machine, to now owning six fruitful locations where they both sell and brew their hand roasted coffee beans.

Although seemingly small from the outside, Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters in Hadley is quite spacious inside. When you walk in, you are instantly greeted with the energizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. The décor is homey and serene; there are tables and chairs in the front by the windows, letting in plenty of light to create a bright and airy feeling. There is also a back room that has less natural lighting, but is dimly lit by antique lamps. Several large wooden tables and plenty of mismatched wooden chairs fill the room, surrounded by rustic red walls, creating a sort of “tavern” feel.

The atmosphere of Shelburne Falls creates the ideal spot to get some homework done or simply relax over a cup of coffee. There is free Wi-Fi, and plenty of outlets around the shop. The ambiance is usually quiet, with typical coffeehouse music softly playing.

Besides the atmosphere and community feel, Shelburne Falls most stands out for their carefully-crafted coffee. They have an extensive menu with a wide variety of food and drink. The different coffee drinks range from iced to hot, to basically everything else you can think of, such as lattes, espresso drinks, frozen beverages and more. There are also nine varieties of flavored of coffee available to choose from, including chocolate raspberry, hazelnut, French vanilla and pumpkin spice.

I ordered a plain café au lait, not realizing how many more choices I would have to make. When I ordered, the barista handed me a cup and told me to go to the counter behind me (where the different coffee flavors were lined up for self-service) and to fill my cup with any coffee up to where I wanted the milk.

Then he asked how I wanted my milk steamed. I was confused; I had never been asked this before. He clarified that there were two ways I could have my milk steamed: latte foam or cappuccino foam. I chose latte foam, which is frothier and mixes into the coffee better.

For my coffee, I chose a flavor called toasted coconut cream, one of their less mainstream flavors. To my surprise, the hint of coconut in the coffee was quite satisfying, and not artificial tasting like many others. I knew I liked the coffee a lot because even as the temperature cooled, I still enjoyed the coffee up until the last drop.

To match the season, Shelburne Falls has many fall drink specials. Along with having a typical pumpkin spice latte, they offer a brown sugar pecan latte, a pumpkin spice cold brew and caramel apple cider.

In addition to their coffee, Shelburne offers many other drinks and foods on their menu. They serve fresh squeezed juices, tea and hot chocolate. Plus, they have a variety of breakfast sandwiches, as well as yogurt parfaits and bagels.

The Hadley location is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. As a first time customer, Shelburne Falls definitely left me wanting more, and I am sure to return for my toasted coconut cream café au lait again soon.

Jessica Chaiken can be reached at [email protected]

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