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Sixty-Something: Coffees In The Hamptons

T.J. Clemente

The author with his coffee. (Courtesy Photo)

There is a certain pleasure to the process of grinding your choice selected coffee beans and then brewing your personal own coffee. I love to occasionally stop at Hampton Coffee Company in Water Mill where you can select and "bag" various types of coffee beans. However then there are times when I just want to get a nice quality coffee and sit, sip, and read my phone.

Now through the years when I worked in the pre-Starbucks universe of NYC, my daily coffee was purchased on the way to the office from bagel shops as sort of a package deal. Making coffee at home for a quick cup was too time consuming. The plan was to get to work on-time all the time. Now that I am retired, I enjoy making my daily coffee and then reading the daily news sites from my phone. However since I sail out of 3 Mile Harbor in East Hampton every summer, many times I stop to have a pre or post sail coffee. I have spots I go to, not always because the coffee is best, but because of the total experience of a view, relaxing atmosphere and ambiance.

First up is the historic porch of the Springs General Store on week days/ not peak time. Although the coffee is not in porcelain cups, the Adirondack chairs on the raised porch have those arm ledges perfect for putting the coffee on. The view is pure Hamptons. I remember Marilyn Monroe, Jackson Pollack, and Arthur Miller among so many others who used to drive their 1950's convertible cars and hop in for some supplies and perhaps a coffee on the very same porch. A porch so old and historic, it once was the official place of posting the local weekly Civil War causalities.

Having a coffee served to you on the porch of the American Hotel in the porcelain coffee cups is I suppose very tourist-like but when I am in Sag Harbor, I am a tourist, so I love it! The energy of the flow of Main Street is a people-watching bonanza. The coffee is always hot and quite good.

When I lived in Montauk, I had numerous morning coffees served to me at John's Pancakes. Sitting at the counter, it was the only way to get the daily local news in those pre-smart-cell phone days. On a personal note, it was at this very counter that I wrote a piece on how the "iPhone" would change society. At the paper the folks in the editorial room thought it was "too expensive" and would not be a game changing hit. They were wrong.

While employed at a paper then located in Bridgehampton, it was a short walk to the historic Candy Kitchen on Main Street in Bridgehampton. Sitting at the actual longest serving luncheonette counter in the Hamptons and pausing a busy day for a coffee was something to look forward to do. I actually would schedule meetings there with some local notables to get quotes for some articles.

I am proud of my efforts years back to save the Fairway Restaurant located on the Southampton/East Hampton Town line on Route 27. It is to this day a daily meeting place of many seniors for breakfast and coffee. On weekends it does a wonderful business for mostly out of town guests. Sitting at the lower counters was sort of a trip and the coffee is always hot and fresh.

Now about gourmet coffee bars, with selections like cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and macchiatos. Of course there are the Starbucks in East Hampton, Bridgehampton, and Southampton. I frequent them a lot. A touch expensive, a touch busy at times, but consistent in choice and quality. For the porcelain effect with my specialty coffee I visit Cittanuova on Newtown Road to have an espresso, or cappuccino made for me, sometimes by longtime friend and East Hampton legend bartender J.J. Jensen. In the summer I enjoy sitting in the outdoor front patio section with out of town friends who love to sip and people watch.

In Amagansett I go to Jack's Stir Brew Coffee to meet up with my friends from that hamlet. The choices are fun, the service friendly and when it's not weekends crazy, it's very campy.

Last, but not least, I want to mention that back in time before Starbucks and the coffee fad, I lived in East Hampton Village for a year on Barn's Lane in a narn converted home (now torn down for a bigger home) just steps from the Golden Pear. I would prepare breakfast and then walk to the Golden Pear to get a hazelnut coffee and be back in the kitchen in less than five minutes. I never really brewed coffee for just me. I also utilized the Golden Pears in Southampton and Sag Harbor when in those villages many times because I felt at home there.

My actual new favorite discovery for wonderful private coffee time with my wife is in Bellport Village, a touch up-island. The Casa di Palma serves the finest coffee consistently, so much so we make time to go there and have nice special talks. We love their large lattes made with very fine selected coffee beans.

Lastly, I want to end this "Sixty-Something" in mentioning a coffee drinking partner of mine for 18 years who recently passed at 94-years-old. Although a Sag Harbor resident for over 35 years, John F. Heisig would wait for me at the Bridgehampton Starbucks to hear about my recent sailing and share a cookie with our coffees. He would order his black and then I, mostly just to annoy him would order a "vente caramel macchiato with an extra shot!"

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