HOME > Chowhound > All New England Archive >


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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

            2. I go to Esselon at LEAST twice a week. The breakfasts are great, especially on the weekend--they have yummy brunch specials (crab cakes benedict ... vegan scrambles ...). Everyday lunch items are hearty and all served with a lovely salad that has great dressing on it. And I often pop by just for their coffee and a Fitness Muffin (it's gluten-free and AWESOME).

              I like that Esselon is right off the bike path on the way to/ from Northampton, and that they have dinner finally! I've heard the live music nights are way fun. Esselon's on my Top 5 Restaurants in this area, for sure.

              1. Excerpt from from previous post from a week ago:

                Esselon Café in Hadley (heading towards Amherst from NoHo) has friendly, excellent service. See the menu on the way in at the hostess stand then pay and order at the counter. I had loose tea served in a Chinese metal pot. The place looks wonderful inside (love the tin ceiling), though the atmosphere seems out of place due to it’s location. The place was packed. I must say the side salad was fresh and good, but the falafel tasted awful and the pita bordered on stale. The only good thing about it was the greens.

                1. Very good breakfasts. Eggs.benedict.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fame da lupo

                    I have to repeal the last statement. It's been about a year since my last visit, I was upset to find their portions significantly smaller this time around.

                  2. great coffee, great espresso drinks. haven't tried breakfast, my sandwich was good solid food, but nothing amazing. simple dressed salad on the side was well dressed and well executed, many places serve limp greens in insipid dressing but this was good.

                    a pizza special i saw go by looked good.

                    interesting to hear negative comments on the falafel - i asked the server whether i should get falafel or a sandwich, and he said "go with the sandwich" with no hesitation. so..

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: andytee

                      . . . I guess I had the misfortune of ordering the wrong item?? The tea was nice though.

                      1. re: andytee

                        i guess the general consensus is "don't order the falafel!" my girlfriend, who is an avid esselon devotee, came home the other day saying she had ordered the falafel sandwich and had sent it back it was so bad. they probably should remove that item from their otherwise strong menu.

                        1. re: stinkdog

                          yeah - i actually ordered the falafel the other day. i was in the mood and trying to choose between that and another item (can't remember what) and the server actually recommended the falafel - though she said it was "different.. a little sweet". it really was not anything horrible, but it was definitely not good, and not up to par with the rest of the menu. it tasted like a falafel recipe put together by someone who had seen a picture of falafel in a magazine but never actually tasted it.

                          and, yeah, if they know what is good for them they will take it off the menu, or fix it. as it is, it just does not belong.

                          1. re: andytee

                            Their burger, on the other hand = surprisingly good!

                      2. We've been to Esselon Cafe often but lately the coffee, at least the espresso-based drinks, aren't as good. The cappuccinos and lattes basically taste the same and lack robust flavor while the food was always mixed in quality -- we've had decent lunches but the brunches/breakfasts were entirely lacking in flavor.