Green Well Organic Tea & Coffee
44 Crown St., New Haven. Mon.-Thu., 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Fri., 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (203) 773-0590, greenwellnewhaven.com, greenwell-being.com.
Greenwell is a fortunate last name for Matt and Sarah Greenwell to share — the couple's cozy new Ninth Square coffee shop, Green Well Coffee (across the street from Firehouse 12), is run with a focus on both green living and wellness. A quick glance around the shop and you immediately sense its uniqueness. There are rustic wooden floors, the boards repurposed from an old barn in Kentucky, and the wooden cabinets at the counter were built by hand by Sarah's father. One can grab a table or choose to sit on a yoga ball seat and gaze out the window onto Crown Street while sipping on organic tea or coffee with impeccable posture. A "trail mix and cereal bar" offers blends of treats in wall-mounted dispensers that are tasty but also healthy, as per Sarah's training as a health and wellness counselor (she has an office next door where their sister business Green Well Being is based). When I arrived for a visit, Neil Young's "Till the Morning Comes" was playing on the radio. The vibe inside was rustic and relaxing, flowing with positive energy. They've even got a "Happy Thoughts Board" where customers are encouraged to write down what they're grateful for. Just being there makes you want to start eating and living better. And the coffee's great, too.
"We don't have any artificial sweeteners," says Matt. "We've got 90 percent organic produce, and we're sourcing lots of things locally. The coffee and teas are organic and fair trade."
Green Well is also establishing itself as a community center, and every Friday night from 7 to 9 p.m., a different local musician takes the stage. There's no cover, it's B.Y.O.B. and the musicians get paid and fed too. Matt and Sarah have also been hosting cooking classes next door at Green Well Being, which so far have included a sushi making class and a "manly" vegetarian cooking class, for hearty meat-free meals. Local artists have been donating a piece every month that is exhibited, then auctioned, and the proceeds all go to charity.
With sandwiches, you'll find that instead of the requisite greasy potato chips, you'll get a healthy side of kale chips. The leftover kale stems are then thrown in the juicer, so that nothing is wasted. The featured veggie juice on this particular day was grapefruit, carrot and ginger (some form of green juice is usually an option too).
Matt grew up in Coventry and Sarah in New Milford, and until recently they were living in Chicago. They didn't really know too much about New Haven (or restaurant ownership in general) before selecting it as the location for their business. They'd visit New Haven on weekends to scout for locations, and found promise in a then-run-down spot on Crown Street.
"This building was in disrepair," says Matt. "Boarded up windows, chain link fence… really poor shape. But it had good bones, and the neighborhood's great."