A Coffee Lover’s Guide to Mystic Country Last Updated: March 2021

Ahh coffee. It’s the sweet elixir that most of us start our day with, and what many of us rely on for that little extra boost in the afternoon.  Sometimes, usually on the weekends or on vacation, it’s also a beverage that we linger over, sipping it slowly and enjoying its aroma, with our hands wrapped around the mug for warmth. If you consider yourself a card-carrying member of the coffee connoisseur club, then allow us to be your guide as we sample the goods from some of the region’s best spots.

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Dexter’s Smoothie Coffee Vault, Norwich

If you are a coffee lover but also into locally sourced, fresh ingredients, then this is your place. Dexter’s serves locally made Craftsman Cliff Roasters, roasted just two miles down the street. They also sell bags of fresh beans, that come in cheekily named varieties such as Thinker, Umama, and Hondusaurus. Dexter’s operates out of a fabulously crafted outdoor takeout window. If you want a coffee drink that’s “a little extra,” try the Dexterccino, which features Craftsman Cliff Roasters coffee and warm and frothy chocolate milk from another local favorite, Woodstock Creamery. As their name implies, they also serve fresh and flavorful smoothies, made with locally sourced ingredients. Want a real treat? Try their healthy but no less tasty version of an Orange Creamsicle, made with carrot, mango protein powder, OJ, and yogurt.

Photo credit: dextersvault

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Victoria Station Café, Putnam

Putnam undoubtedly has one of the cutest main streets in Connecticut, and lining it are some great spots for food and drink, case in point, this adorable café. If you are the type of person who enjoys a sweet treat with their coffee (doesn’t everybody?) then you have come to the right place. Their baked goods are made fresh daily and truly one of a kind. Think mini cheesecakes, homemade whoopie pies, cookies, brownies and more. Although you can get your order to-go, this is the type of place that makes you want to get your coffee in a mug and stay a while. There is also outdoor seating in the warmer months, so you can enjoy the neighborhood vibes from their patio.

Photo credit: victoriastationcafe

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Deviant Craft Coffee & Donuts, Mystic

What started as a donut pop-up inside the beloved Vault Coffee, has now become the perfect merger of both entities. Located in Olde Mistick Village, Deviant makes small-batch, from-scratch donuts daily, and serves them up alongside some of the best coffee drinks around. Their donut menu changes weekly and is often seasonal or themed including a Harry Potter menu. All donuts start with their long-perfected brioche or cake base and then the sky is the limit in terms of filling, toppings and flavors. Stuffed Cookie Dough or Pineapple Orange Mimosa anyone? They also carry gluten sensitive, and vegan varieties, along with the elusive Crö-dö (a croissant-donut hybrid). While their donuts may get all the glory, their coffee deserves some recognition too. Offerings include decadent seasonal lattes, cold brew creations and traditional espresso drinks.

Photo credit: deviantdonuts

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Muddy Waters Cafe, New London

Have you explored downtown New London recently? If not, a visit to Muddy Waters Café is a great excuse to do so. A favorite of locals and local celebrities alike, Muddy Waters is truly a community gathering spot for the diverse and vibrant city. Their coffee, baked goods, sandwiches and the famous “Love Salad” are all freshly made. Whether you are grabbing something to-go before boarding the ferry or hoping to cozy up on a comfy couch and sip a latte, you will find just what you are looking for here. As the weather warms up, it’s also worth noting that their back deck has some splendid views of the Thames River for lingering over iced coffees while basking in the sun.

Photo credit: muddywatersnewlondon

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Macondo, Stonington

Stonington is home to at least three great coffee shops, so it was a tough call to narrow it down to just one from here, but between their imported Columbian coffee and their REAL New York bagels, Macondo takes the cake (or bagel?) for my top choice. They proudly serve fair-trade Columbian coffee brand, Devoción, which they have shipped directly from Columbia to New York City, and then roasted in Brooklyn for the freshest tasting cup of coffee around. The space itself gives off a modern, eclectic and cozy vibe, and makes you want to sip your coffee ever so slowly. They serve a variety of specialty beverages, including Aromáticas, which are Columbian teas infused with fruit. They also source their baked goods from some of the best local places, including Pain D' Avignon, Zest and the holy grail of bagels, Ess-A-Bagel.

Photo credit: welcometomacondo

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Nolles Coffee Bar, Danielson

One of the only local places to get Dalgona Coffee, this gourmet coffee bar will make your caffeine-infused dreams come true. What is Dalgona Coffee you ask? It’s whipped coffee and cold milk and it tastes just as magical as it sounds.  If you have never had one, you definitely need to change that. In addition, they have some seriously decadent signature coffee drinks, many that sound more like dessert or cocktails, like the PB Cup or Mudslide Mocktail. If you would rather customize your own, they offer many flavor combinations and often highlight customer creations on their menu for inspiration. Their baristas liken themselves to bartenders and even your iced coffee order will be shaken to perfection in a cocktail shaker. Nolles was named for its location, across from the Danielson Superior Court in the old Norwich Bulletin building, the word nolles being a legal term for forgiveness. The atmosphere at Nolles is fun and welcoming and resembles your neighborhood bar as much as a coffee shop. In the warmer months, there is also outdoor patio seating and live music.

Photo credit: nollescoffeebar113

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Grounded Coffee Company, Willimantic

With a focus on high-quality, ethically sourced coffee, Grounded’s name is derived from the meaning of the word – a term used to describe “a person who is sensible and has a good understanding of what is really important in life.” Their coffee comes from near and far, from Bushwick to Honduras and everywhere in between. Their location on Main Street in Willimantic provides a welcoming spot for local college kids and creatives to work, study and of course, caffeinate. When you walk in, you will be greeted by that telltale aroma of freshly roasted coffee, and even be offered a sample or two of what’s brewing (although this is likely on hold due to Covid).  Located in a historic 19th-century building, the former site of the Willimantic Victorian Society, Grounded’s chill vibes extend from the café right onto their outdoor brick patio.

Photo credit: grounded_coffee_company