The Coffee Barn, a double-sided java drive-through, has been open since July, but unless you keep your eyes peeled when you drive down Route 15 in Essex - a.k.a. Pearl Street - you may not have noticed. It's located in a small building in the parking lot of Essex Automotive.
According to Sara Richard, 27, who owns the Coffee Barn with partner David O'Donnell, 23, finding it was kismet. She'd always wanted to own a "café-style place." O'Donnell noticed the place was for sale and contacted the owner. Then, "everything fell into place."
The duo swapped out the Costco sweets for Richard's homemade muffins - in flavors such as mixed berry, blueberries and cream cheese, and cranberry-almond - as well as biscotti and scones made by locals. The Brown & Jenkins coffee comes from right down the road: "It's roasted the day I pick it up, usually. The quality is much better than what people were receiving before," Richards suggests.
Right now they brew three or four varieties, including French roast and breakfast blend, from 6 a.m. to noon on weekdays with shorter hours on Saturday. But Richard plans to "bump up" business hours soon, and to continue doing so as they expand beyond their loyal early-morning crowd. "People who come here have been so helpful," she says. "Now we're looking at how we can reach out and bring more people in."