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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Warm Up With Coffee An' So Much More

There’s nothing like the warm reception over a hot cup of coffee that you get at your local coffee shop. And there’s certainly no substitute for homemade donuts. Hot coffee and fresh donuts with a smile are exactly what George Vlandis and his son, Elias, serve at Coffee An'. You won’t find hard-to-pronounce coffee-based concoctions here. And their cups come in two sizes: Small and large. But this throwback breakfast and lunch-counter has been warming Westporters for almost two decades. And on any given morning, you’ll find their place packed with patrons ready for their coffee an’ donuts.

“We did buy it as an existing business over 18 years ago,” says Elias. “But the donuts are definitely our own.” Those donuts are famous far beyond the borders of Fairfield County. Former presidents have been known to enjoy them, too. “Yes, we sent some to the White House. When Clinton was in office.” After that, George actually met Vice President Gore, who told him Coffee ‘An’s donuts had created a buzz in the Oval Office.

Staying afloat as a local coffee shop in the 21st century is no small feat, with venti-sized competition like Panera , Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks flooding the market. But market watchers like Espresso Business Solutions estimate that the independent coffee market in the United States accounts for about 12 billion dollars in sales, annually. But with Americans drinking 400 million cups of coffee a day, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage in demand.

Most independent coffee shops offer more than just coffee. Some, like Coffee An’, offer food as well, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or just a darn good donut. They also add a dash of ambiance to the menu, whether it’s an art house feel with weekly poetry readings, or mid 20th century Americana vibe, there’s something different about the way independent coffee shops do business, something not franchiseable.

For Elias, though, it’s all about the donuts and the people who keep coming back for them. “The cinnamon twirls, the marble twists, glazed—we go through pretty much all of them. Every day. It’s a friendly town and the customers are always smiling. Paul Newman, he used to come in a lot,” says Elias of the late actor, one of Westport’s most beloved residents. “He really liked the chocolate frosted.”

Some would say Coffee An' serves donuts so good, you'll actually admit to eating them. Have you tried Coffee An's? What's your favorite local spot for coffee? Share your thoughts here, or email me at mmorelli@mainstreetconnect.us .

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