If you are a true coffee connoisseur, you will understand that not all coffee is created equal. Like wine, each region of the world produces a different taste profile for coffee. Some coffee notes are bold and strong, some are slightly sweet and fruity; but no two regions are completely alike. I learned this while I went to visit with one of Dover’s newest downtown shops – Dover Coffee & Tea Co. This hidden gem is located in the lower level of the Franklin Galleria, and the owner, Michael Brooks is enthusiastic about welcoming customers into this delectable world of coffee, tea, and everything in between.
I discovered this underground coffee & tea oasis while I was making my rounds through downtown to visit some of the newly opened businesses. I was surprised to notice a sidewalk sign directing me to towards this new retailer of whole bean coffee, loose leaf tea, and other savory sips. Finding these amazing hidden businesses is one of my favorite things about living in Dover!
I entered the shop and was immediately surrounded by fascinating aromas. Mr. Brooks and his dog were there to welcome me with a pleasant smile and wagging tail (the tail wagging was from Kane, the 3-year-old Katahoula/Mountain Cur mix).
The space is warm and inviting, and the walls are filled with an array of various coffees & teas. It was at this point that I knew I might have some questions. Although I love both coffee & tea, I never realized the true taste difference between a good product and a great product. I asked Mr. Brooks about the different kinds of coffee, and also mentioned what type I usually like to drink. He suggested I try the Rwanda blend by A&E Coffee & Tea. The description noted plum jam, kiwi, and brown sugar.
I decided to take Mr. Brooks’ suggestion and picked up a bag of the Rwanda blend while I continued to peruse the shop. I noticed the shelves are well stocked and full of regionally sourced products. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the owner actively seeks out distributors who are independently owned and sustainable. He loves knowing the products he sells are not too far removed from the farms and farmers that grow the coffee and tea.
I asked Mr. Brooks what prompted him to open a coffee and tea shop in Dover. He said he had always wanted to open a small business, but never knew what that would look like. A few years ago, he was shopping, looking for a good whole bean coffee, and was disappointed by the selection at the grocery stores. He thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a small store that sold delicious, locally roasted coffee, tea, and accessories?” He compared the concept to be akin to a wine shop or local brewer, but catering to coffee and tea lovers. When I asked if he had a passion for coffee, he quickly responded that he has had a passion for coffee for years, and had even roasted his own beans at home, on a converted barbeque grill!
I continued my inquisitive line of questioning into what blends of beans were his favorite, and the best brewing methods. It has been my experience that brewing the perfect cup of coffee and tea can be magic only performed by master baristas who are secretly chemists in disguise. So of course, I had to know his secret to the perfect cup!
He said he has experienced numerous blends of coffee from many amazing roasters this year, that it was difficult to choose a favorite. He loves a medium-dark roast, and his favorite brew method is currently an Aeropress.
As I made my way back to the register, I was very excited to get home and try out the Rwanda blend I decided to purchase. Mr. Brooks didn’t let me leave the shop without letting me know that he was going to be having some specialty teas and coffees coming in for the holidays, as well as some stocking stuffers and tea gift sets. I paid for my purchase and rushed home to start a pot.
The first thing I will say, is that approximately two weeks later, I was back in the shop buying three more bags of coffee from Mr. Brooks. I cannot even begin to express how delicious it was, and how it has completely changed the way I drink coffee. The second thing I will say is that I learned that you cannot get specialty beans all year long, as they have a certain “harvesting” timeframe. Once they are sold out, you won’t be able to enjoy it until the next harvest.
Needless to say, I am thrilled that Dover Coffee and Tea Co. has moved into downtown Dover, and I am even more excited to see what Mr. Brooks suggests the next time I visit him.