WILLIAMSTOWN -- Frank Chen, owner of Terra Café in Williamstown, claims his new business serves "the best coffee in the world."
Located in the Colonial Plaza, Terra Café serves George Howell Coffee, a reportedly hard-to-find brand of specialty coffee. Though he's been open for a matter of weeks, Chen said the coffee seems to be popular with the locals and hopes to attract more Williams College students.
The menu at Terra Café also features sandwiches, salads and quiche, along with desserts like apple strudel, carrot cake, tiramisu and chocolate chip cookies.
Chen hopes to eventually extend the cafe's hours and expand into a neighboring space.
Comparing Howell's brew to fine wine, Chen says soil properties, climate and region affect the flavors of the coffee.
"The quality is super," Chen said. "And the quantity is very small."
Howell's first venture was The Coffee Connection, a coffee shop he opened in Cambridge's Harvard Square in 1975. Howell's venture grew into a chain of 24 stores in the Boston area before he sold to Starbucks in 1994.
Howell traveled the world to work as a coffee quality consultant and also worked for the United Nations to create models of economic stability for coffee farmers. He became tired of seeing coffee farmers being manipulated, leading him to establish his own company with responsible business practices.
"Farmers are paid and treated fairly," Chen
Every 12-ounce bag of coffee features the name of the farm, along with the region it was grown.
The coffee's taste comes thanks in part to it being minimally processed, Chen explained. The company uses only single-estate coffees. Most coffee roasters blend different coffee beans together, Chen said. They also may add artificial flavoring or may roast the beans too dark.
"If you look at these beans, they are all light brown," he said. "A lot of coffee beans you buy are black. That coffee tastes burnt compared to this."
Anyone interested in trying George Howell's coffee for free will get their chance at weekly coffee tastings, held every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each week will feature a different type of coffee Howell's company offers.
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What: Terra Café
Where: 240 Main St., Williamstown
Offering: Specialty coffee drinks, pastries, cakes, sandwiches, salads, desserts
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.