text and photos by Katy Morris
“Locally acquired, Chef inspired” is their mantra and it is perfectly fitting. Steam Coffee Bar, which first opened at the Greens Farms train station and is now also at the Westport station in CT. It is full of locally sourced, healthy and delicious treats, and of course, steaming hot coffee. Co-owner and Chef Briana Pennell was kind enough to sit down with me to give me an inside peek on what makes their place so unique.
She also shared recipes. We love that.
I was surprised and impressed that this energetic and joyful woman had been here since 5am that morning (just like every other morning…), warming up sleepy-eyed commuters with her contagious smile and a cup of organic coffee, and nourishing their appetites with handmade baked goods made in the tiniest little oven I’ve ever seen (besides an “easy bake” oven!).
KLM: So, how did Steam Coffee Bar start?
Last year about this time, Chis Barrett [co-owner] and I saw a request for proposal in a local newspaper for a contract with the town to open up a new coffee concession here at Greens Farms, and we jumped right on it. I have always wanted to start my own business, and this was the perfect opportunity. With Chris’ expertise in the hospitality and restaurant industry, combined with my experience and love of baking, we knew we had something special and could make it work. Now, the place is completely jam-packed every single morning, and I am familiar with nearly all of our customers at this point.
KLM: What is your food philosophy?
I am a big yoga practitioner and a strong believer in the connection between the mind, body, and soul. I think that eating healthy and nourishing your body can help you live a fulfilled and happy life. Personally, I eat mostly eat vegan but at times can be a “flexatarian” and eat some fish like salmon. I have always loved to make healthy sweet treats for friends and family and was able to improve my pastry techniques after attending the Culinary Institute and working at Rebecca’s of Greenwich and other local café’s around Fairfield County.
Today, I base my menu and recipes on a direct connection with our clientele; I love to get instant feedback and truly listen to the needs and preferences of our customers. I can cater to any type of food restriction or preference and actually have found that many of our local Westport customers are into a very healthy lifestyle as well and prefer to eat organic and local foods.
KLM: What is your bestseller and why do you think that is?
By far our best baked good seller is the Classic Blueberry Muffin. I make about a dozen each morning and they are gone within a couple of hours!
KLM: What is the best coffee and snack pairing you suggest?
A cappuccino with my homemade almond milk using our La Marzocco espresso machine (it’s like my second baby!) paired with my vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free Morning Glory muffin would be my pick.
KLM: Tell me about the other offerings here.
Basically everything we sell is made and sourced from local vendors, and we try to get healthy and organic options when we can. Our teas are provided by Westport’s Arogya, our dairy comes from Lebanon’s the Farmer’s Cow, our coffee is from Shearwater which is the only certified organic coffee roaster in Fairfield County.
We also sell Nothin’ But granola bars (We LOVE these. Check out Liz’s post from last Spring), Wave Hill Bread, 8 to the Bar, and a few other items. The baked goods that I make in my little oven and sell [“Briana’s Baked Goods”] include gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free power muffins and granola bars, croissants, espresso brownies, and a variety of cookies.
I experiment with recipes all the time but my first priority is to cater to exactly what customers want. I can do gluten-free, vegan, organic…anything they’d like!
KLM: And you really bake everything in that tiny oven?!
Yes, I do [with a little laugh]. And I prep using about one square foot of counter space. I’ve gotten very good at improvising over the years! As long as I’ve got my electric mixer and an oven, I’m good to go. But I must say, I’m excited to have a bigger oven at the Westport location.
KLM: Tell me more about the new Steam Coffee Bar at the Westport train station…how is it different? I take off to the City from that station all the time and am so happy you will be there!
We are extremely excited about opening our new location. It is about three times the size of the Greens Farms and we will be open from approximately 5am – 7:30pm (maybe even longer) in an effort to catch returning commuters and either invite them in to relax after a long work day, or stop in and pick up a ‘grab-n-go’ dinner on their way home. Dinners will include quinoa & veggie burgers, roasted vegetable terrine with tomato coulis, mac & cheese, soups, roasted vegetables, hummus and more.
The space is flexible and extremely beautiful with many oversized windows and original light fixtures and wood trim. It was renovated with green practices and respectful of it’s history (built in 1908).
The space is available for rent!
Think birthday celebrations, cocktails, wine tastings, book club gatherings and much much more. Be sure to speak to Briana about food options. She is deeply creative and open to any and all ideas.
Hours may be in flux for a while so please check Steam’s facebook page for confirmed times of operation. See below.
Steam Coffee Bar has 2 locations in Westport, CT:
Greens Farm RR Station, westbound side (New York bound) 2 Post Office Lane, Westport. Open at 5 AM- noonish.
Westport RR Station, eastbound (New Haven bound), 45 Railroad Place. 5 AM-7:30 PM. Confirm cafe’s hours of operation on their Facebook page.
For special orders and special occasion cakes contact Briana Pennell here.
Briana was kind enough to share this simple, healthy, and delicious cookie recipe with Kosher Like Me readers. Enjoy!
These parve cookies are soft and chock full of all good things. They are gluten-free, refined sugar-free and vegan
- 2 cups of gluten free oats
- 2 medium sized bananas
- ¼ cup oil (olive or grape seed)
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Handful of raisins
- Handful of pecans
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric mixer), mix all ingredients together until well combined.
- Scoop and flatten dough onto the cookie sheet (Briana recommends using a ¾ oz. ice cream scoop.)
- Bake for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.