Success Stories: Brew Crew
Founded in 1985 by Bob Williams and Barry Levine, Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea was the first specialty coffee-roasting company in Connecticut, founded years before competitors and their coffees expanded the market. Twenty-six years later, it’s still going strong.
“We have tried not to be thought of as another coffeehouse, espresso bar or restaurant and have remained focused on our core roasting business,” Levine says. “For years we have refined our sources,” he continues, “traveling when and where needed, and cultivating relationships that result in our offerings of elite microlots, coffee-competition winners and other coffees that we find through the arduous process of roasting and cupping lots and lots of candidates. Our palates have earned us a place as jurors for international competitions. Large companies cannot offer true specialty coffees. Our size and experience work for us.”
This global perspective, and the know-how that comes with it, allows Willoughby’s to offer “coffee with pedigree,” says Levine. “Many coffees we roast are great examples of the world’s top grades that we can roast and sell at very reasonable prices—coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Sumatra and elsewhere in the coffee-growing world, each we think serving as a reminder to our customers of our core mission: freshness, quality and value.”
The company now operates four successful retail stores in Connecticut. In addition to the New Haven flagship located on the corner of Church and Grove streets, there’s a second New Haven store at the Yale School of Architecture, as well as one each in Madison and Branford. Its coffee-roasting plant in Branford houses the mail-order and wholesale departments, so customers—local, national and even international—can easily order their favorite flavors from the comfort of home. The coffee can also be found on the menus of top area restaurants, including Union League Café in New Haven and Bar Bouchée in Madison.
For those interested in roasting at home, Williams and Levine offer a large selection of unroasted coffee, home coffee-roasting machines and specialty coffee brewers at roastmasters.com, which the partners started in 2006.