As the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder, a hot afternoon pick-me-up could be just what you need. As a coffee lover, I enjoy a good cup of Joe. As a fan of supporting local, small businesses, I enjoy a good local coffee shop even more. Sorry, Starbucks.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, we paused at Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters along scenic Route 6A (Main Street) in Brewster, MA. This charming, locally-owned coffee shop welcomes you with its open floor plan, comfy couches, and friendly servers. It opened in 2015, expanding the building’s footprint originally occupied by Great Cape Herbs in 2015. The two businesses blend well, and the decor is rustic, with lots of exposed wood, reclaimed from local barns. You can even sit and sip your selection while watching a fresh batch of coffee roasting behind the bar.
According to their website (http://www.socoffee.co/), Snowy Owl roasts “high-grade coffee beans from small-lot growers and co-ops that focus on environmental sustainability, economic development, and educational enhancement programs”. Poignantly, the namesake for this business stems from an owl-shaped pillow that provided comfort to the family’s father before his passing from cancer, and the family has routinely seen owls ever since.
I was delighted to see that I could order my dairy-free cappuccino with almond milk for no additional charge. Jay ordered the brew of the day, the aptly named “Jaws” blend. Snowy Owl also offers “Captain Crosby” (named after the well-known Cape Codders, the Crosby family of Crosby Cat Boat fame), “Brewster” blend, and “Decaf”. We selected a bag of “Captain Crosby” to take with us, after perusing the shop’s retail selection of coffees, T-shirts, and accessories. While we didn’t eat there, you can also enjoy food items for a light breakfast, lunch, or snack, from their partners, Pain D’Avignon (Hyannis) and White Lion Bakery (Mashpee).
The coffee shop hosts events including Open Mics and acoustic music on Sundays. Additionally, Great Cape Herbs (https://greatcape.com/) is tucked behind the serving area, offering all natural herbal remedies in an intimate — small and personal — setting.
I can’t wait to enjoy my coffee at home…and to return soon to Snowy Owl, perhaps for some live music and a snack.
Open hours: Monday — Friday 6:30 AM — 5:00 PM; Saturday — Sunday 7:30 AM — 5:00 PM
Start Line Brewery in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, is one of a number of fairly new craft breweries, with a group of friends hoping to turn their passion for quality beers into a sustainable and fun way to make a living. Judging from our visit, they’ll probably do just fine.
Start Line, named for the Boston Marathon’s route which begins in town, will celebrate its one-year anniversary at the beginning of November. It appears they’ve solidly established themselves with six year-round beers and other seasonal or short run beers as well. Their tasting room is small but was adequate for our time there. The layout is good as well, with views of the production facilities, outside, and the Water Fresh farm connected to it.
The beers represented a good mix, from pretty hoppy choices such as Hop Load Citra, to the deep red, caramel-flavored Craic Irish Red Ale, to the Hazelnut Cold Brewed Stout that’s a great alternative to your weekend afternoon coffee run. A flight includes four five-ounce samples for $10.
Start Line is located at Water Fresh Farm, which is a great spot in its own right. It has food ranging from vegetables grown in their hydroponic greenhouse; great snacks and candy; and fresh, hot meals. Start Line uses them as well for a limited menu. The farm also has a good wine selection with a chilling machine in case you get a bottle of white on a way to a friend’s and need it quickly cooled. The ice cream shop also means that parents can bring their kids and everyone can find something on the premises to enjoy.
We really enjoyed both the quality and the variety of the beers. Start Line’s friendly staff, picturesque setting, and mutually beneficial store and tasting room make it absolutely worth a visit. With their one-year anniversary approaching, they seem well-settled and ready to start another year of producing a great product. Not a bad outcome from some friends who started out dreaming big over some pints!
The Broken Creek Winery is a family-owned, small winery in central Massachusetts. This boutique winery is a labor of love, but it takes absolutely no work whatsoever to fall in love with the place.
The winery is nearing the end of its second year. It's currently cultivating only six of its 40 acres, but is growing steadily in terms of its vines and production capabilities. This year, it more than doubled its output to 8,000 bottles, with all facilities on-site. Impressively for a newer, smaller winery, Broken Creek’s offerings include several estate-grown wine options.
There are four reds and four whites, along with a special edition offering. Despite their doubling of capacity and their newness, Broken Creek has still had wine flying off its shelves, so not all wine was in stock when we visited. However, it had sufficient variety for a five-sample tasting that included a souvenir glass.
Two of the whites we sampled were great summer options, with a richer vignoles perfect for colder weather, similar to some chardonnays. The cabernet sauvignon is a delicious red, but much lighter than some of the incredibly bold, heavy, fruit-forward offerings common in stores these days. It still had great flavor, more akin to a robust pinot noir. Broken Creek also featured an estate-grown marquette. Interestingly, this is a hybrid grape created by the University of Minnesota about a decade ago to better survive in colder climates. It’s uniquely flavorful, can work well on its own or with, say, a Thanksgiving Dinner, and is hard to describe other than “delicious”.
This winery grew out of owner Eric Preusse’s hobby of fermenting beer, cider, and, predictably, wine. His pastime then grew to a business concept and then reality. Eric and his wife, Peggy, got this winery off the ground while still working demanding jobs in Boston. After an off-season that included expanded production and a much-needed trip to the Caribbean to recharge, the Preusses are now winding down on a second successful season. They’ve also finished work on a new tasting room and a back deck that are absolutely beautiful, along with event space. Whether you sit at one of their indoor tables playing backgammon or cribbage, enjoy the serene views from the back deck, or stroll the grounds with a glass of wine in hand, you can’t help but be extremely impressed by the wine and the whole operation that Eric and Peggy are building in this peaceful, little corner of town.
Glasses are $6-8; bottles vary, costing roughly around $20. Given their roles, the owners know their wine intimately, so can also help pair perfectly to meet your needs. They’re currently open on weekends, but event space is available during the week. When you meet truly nice people pursuing a dream and producing a great product, you can’t help but wish them all the best. Fortunately, Broken Creek is clearly well on its way to establishing itself as a fantastic boutique winery!
Cape Cod Winery's bottles can be bought either from your table, or from inside of the store. Tastings also get you a free glass.
The town of Concord not only offers this park, but also boasts a beautiful and pedestrian-friendly downtown, historic cemetery that is home to famous authors, and more. While the two-hour kayak trip can pass the afternoon nicely, Concord can also provide an all-day affair
Perks started out as a great little coffee shop in Harwich, one of the quieter towns on Cape Cod. But three summers back, it experimented with using its outdoor space for a beer garden in the afternoon and evening. It's evolved from not much more than a plywood bar to now having a great ambiance.
Now serving craft beers, both locally and nationally sourced, along with wine and cocktails, it covers all its bases, along with food such as appetizers, salads, and burgers.
The seating, bar with outdoor TV, fire pit, and lights strung over everything provide a relaxed, pleasant feel. The shades in one area shaped like sails provide relief from the sun as well. And the live music is fun but not too loud as to drown out conversations with your friends.
Perks has grown the beer garden into a great atmosphere that fills a nice niche for Harwich, and is worth visiting from surrounding towns as well. We stumbled across it by accident, but will definitely seek it out again!
The Dennis Historical Society operates the Josiah Dennis Manse, named after the first minister for whom the town was named after. Open part-time during the summer, it features guides in each room who will educate you, answer questions, and are clearly well-versed in the history of the house and period.
The house also features a room about the town's nautical history, with names and facts that will tie to street signs people might not have otherwise thought about. There is also a rotating exhibit. On the day we visited, we learned about the first major resort in town, the Nobscusset Inn. The dinner menu, photos, and other items on display made for interesting conversation with my daughters.
Donations help keep this house operating, and they're now beginning work on renovating the adjacent 1745 one-room schoolhouse, and discovering the secrets it holds. On a day when you choose to skip the beach, this provides a low-cost, educational opportunity for the whole family that supports a good cause.
The Dennis Road Race is a 5-mile race, now in its 40th year, making it one of the older races on Cape Cod. Starting at 10am, it runs warmer than early-morning races. It supports town students through camp and college scholarships. The after-party across the street is always fun, with live music, freshly ground burgers and dogs from the Dennis Public Market, beers from Buncey's Pizza (which hosts it), and delicious oysters from the East Dennis Oyster Company.
The atmosphere is fun, the cause is good, and it's a great way to spend the first half of your day.
The Good Life...
can't exist alone. Places form the setting for your memories. People around us allow experiences to be shared, enriched, and leave us feeling connected and loved.