Gary Contes is an old-school coffee guy with a newfangled coffee shop. Village Coffee Market, which opened in June 2016 in the Stony Brook Village Center, is the only one I know of that specializes in K-Cups, those plastic pods manufactured for single-serving coffee brewers.
Despite his devotion to cutting-edge coffee preparation, the shop itself has a cozy, old-fashioned appeal, and the décor is a virtual museum of evolving coffee technology, generations worth of cowboy coffee pots, percolators, Bialetti mokas and Neapolitan flip-drips. There’s also a collection of coffee tins bearing the names of such hallowed brands as Savarin, Yuban, Chase & Sanborn, Horn & Hardart and A&P.
K-Cups usually come in boxes of 12, but at Village Coffee Market, they are sold individually so customers can mix and match from a selection of more than 150 varieties. Each cup is 95 cents; 12 cups are $9.95; 24 are $16.95 and 96 are $62.95.
Contes is also the owner of Colonial Coffee, a wholesale distributor to restaurants, delis, bagel stores and offices on Long Island and in Queens and Brooklyn. Since he bought the company in 2003 (from his cousin, Chris Pappas, who founded it in 1968), he has noted the growing popularity of K-Cups. “Almost all the offices have converted to them from drip coffee makers,” he said.
Contes explained that both the K-Cup and the Keurig brewing system were made exclusively by Green Mountain Coffee until the patents expired in 2012. Since then, “almost everyone’s gotten in on the K-Cup game.” Village Coffee carries about 20 Green Mountain varieties, as well as K-Cups from Barrie house, Brooklyn Beans, Newman’s Own, Caribou Coffee and more.
Colonial’s own house brand, Terrace Café, accounts for almost half of Contes’ coffees, including his own favorite, Italian espresso, which he characterizes as bold but not bitter. He carries plenty of international blends from Colombia, Kenya, Sumatra and Kona (Hawaii), but the store’s forte is flavored coffees. There are tame flavors such as caramel-cappuccino, cinnamon-hazelnut and Southern pecan. There are seasonal flavors such as pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cappuccino. And there are flavors that threaten to overwhelm the taste of coffee itself, such as chocolate-maple-bacon, blueberry-cinnamon crumble and red velvet-hot chocolate.
For traditionalists, there are also bags of ground coffee and, for Luddites, whole beans.
Village Coffee Market is at 131 Main St., Stony Brook, 631-675-9525, villagecoffeemarket.com.