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Jul 7, 2006 12:11 AM

Esselon Cafe in Hadley, MA: Thoughts?

Has anyone been to the new lunch place in Hadley, Esselon Cafe? I hear they are also a coffee roaster. Any info on the food and/or coffee would be appreciated.

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  1. Alas, I haven't been there, but I too am interested in hearing about it. Everytime I drive by it's packed! Anybody been there?

    1. Just had lunch there (salad and a mineral water) yesterday. The menu is simple--a few sandwiches, some salads, good breads, a soup of the day--but ingredients were very fresh and everything was nicely prepared and plated. There are numerous choices for vegetarians, all of which can be made carnivorous with the addition of grilled chicken. Did not try the coffee or sweet pastries, but they looked equally good. Most lunch items are $7-10, but a few baguette sandwiches in the display case were $4-5 and included ingredients like smoked salmon and the caprese combination of fresh mozz. tomato and basil.

      The main room of the cafe is very attractive--exposed brick, warm wood--and, for a coffee place, pretty airy, with a mix of small and large tables that would make a large-group lunch easy. There is also a very nicely designed, two-level terrace on the side--they have managed to filter out most of the noise from Route 9, no small feat--and a little garden with Adirondack chairs where you could take lunch or hang out over coffee.

      The one drawback I found is that they are roasting coffee in the building during business hours, so every once in a while, while sitting on the terrace, we'd suddenly smell a big whiff of roasting coffee. The aroma is considerably less appealing than it sounds--imagine the smell of a coffee carafe that you've left on the heating element of your coffeemaker for a bit too long. I doubt you'd smell this if seated inside the building, though.

      All in all, this is an excellent addition to Hadley. Would love to hear what people think of the coffee.

      1. I've only been for breakfast. I can say the pancakes and bacon are very good and according to my fellow diners, the omelets and breakfast burritos are also very good. The eggs and burritos come with some greens, which is a nice touch. Bread is fresh and the bacon is thick.

        The coffee is fantastic. One of the owners is Scott Rao of Rao's Coffee Roasting Co. in Amherst. Best iced coffee I've ever had. Good chai and the espresso, I'm told, is top notch.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nolight

          Is Rao still involved in Rao's? I thought he sold his interest in the place.

          He roasts some of the best coffee I've ever had--anywhere.

          1. re: smoky

            You are correct that Scott Rao sold Rao's a few years ago. It seems to me that the coffee quality there has gone downhill a great deal since he left. Now I'll have to make the jaunt to Esselon just to get some of that coffee!

        2. This coffee roaster used to go under the name Galapagos. Their coffee is the best I have had in three years. I buy the beans from a Adriennes Cafe in Westfield. Can't wait to try the cafe.

          1. I have had the pleasure of visiting Esselon several times, and each time was a delight. The food was tasty, the coffee/tea/espresso drinks were exceptional, and the staff was warm and wonderful. Unfortunately, I live in Chicago, and although cafes abound here, I miss Esselon greatly! I look forward to my next visit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shorton

              I drive by Esselon every morning on my way to work. The coffee is excellent. Try their flat white which is my favorite drink there. Their muffins and desserts are made by Woodstar Cafe which is a good thing. They also have fantastic sandwiches- prosciutto with gorgonzola and fig jam is one of many rotating varieties.