On an early Saturday morning in Sandy Hook, Reet Lubin from Brookfield and Karen Blake from Oxford decided to stop into the while waiting for the new Country Mill shop to open up next door. As she bit into her blueberry scone, Lubin swooned, and said, “I mean, who bakes like this anymore!”
Another customer, Noel Mather, local Prudential Realtor, said, "The ginger scones dipped in coffee is indescribably delicious."
On the back patio, a customer sat at a table, lost in her magazine, enjoying her coffee to the zen-like sounds of the rippling water of the Pootatuck River.
Mike Landry has just celebrated the second anniversary of his cafe, Demitasse. In the last two years, he has redecorated, hired a baker, bought a mixer and now has a commercial oven to produce their own muffins and other baked goods.
“Some of the other things, the blondies and pastries, come from Ovens of France in Woodbury. We aren’t just a place that brings in other vendors. We showcase the best of the local suppliers, that you can’t get in local grocery stores.”
According to Landry, everything is selected with care and his passion for fine quality. “This is not an artsy, hang-out coffee shop,” he said quietly. “This is a cafe, like you see in New York and Europe, where you can come with a friend for lunch or a cappuccino in the afternoon.”
Lunch specials are prepared and brought in by Pam Buchler of Newtown’s Aquarian Caterer. Landry said, “She is a phenomenal cook, and makes our lunch specials daily. Last week there was salmon over chickpeas. She also makes the lunch salads which range from fresh tomatoes, roasted beets with goat cheese, and quinoa salad.”
Landry speaks with reverence as he describes the specials, his eyes all but closing as he relives the flavors through their descriptions.
The menu still has staple sandwiches made on the premises, the most popular being the Caprice Sandwich, tomato, basil, and Italian imported mozzarella served on a ciabatta bread, and the Italian sandwich, which Mike said is a hit with the male customers. “There are three imported meats: soppressata, copacola, and salami. We add roasted peppers, provolone and outstanding olive oil that I drive all the way to Arthur Ave to buy,” he said, reinforcing his passion for excellence, which of course is expressed in his espresso as well.
“I searched for a coffee roaster and found that the best one was Willoughby’s in New Haven.” Started 30 years ago in Yale community, Willoughby’s is a member of the National Coffee Association, which Landry said is very hard to get into, and judges other roasters.
“They go to Costa Rica and Columbia to buy their own beans. Because they buy in smaller quantities than the large chains, they can shop at the local estate farms. You should see their beans...every one is flawless. The beans are a combination of Costa Rica, Columbia and Barundi beans, which are the hardest ones to find.”
Landry said the coffee is so full bodied, it’s like a meal. “People think it’s all about the dark roasts but the chains over-roast. You aren’t supposed to roast it to the point the beans crack. You can damage it by over roasting,” he said.
Landry believes that the business was his destiny. His father was Portuguese and his mother was Italian, and he said they prepared him well. “My father owned a diner in New Haven called the Donut King. It was in my blood to open my own business,” he said.
In 1993, he got his feet wet at local and county fairs, where people lined up for his cappuccino and espresso. “I did very well. Then I went into wholesale, selling coffee to four star restaurants like Paul Newman’s Dressing Room Restaurant at the Westport Playhouse. The chefs in those places treat coffee like their food.”
“This was my dream,” Landry, who still sells coffee wholesale, said of the cafe. “I wanted a place where I could sell my product. I felt there was a need for it. And now, I bring my coffee customers here, and everyone one of them who has tasted my coffee, gives me the account.”
The is located at 3 Glen Road, Sandy Hook.