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Saturday, April 21 Business

Fairfield coffee shop takes on big-name competition

It has been a few months since Tony Inzero opened Candlewood Market coffee shop a mile from the nearest Starbucks, but he said his coffee could give the chain some competition.

The Brookfield resident opened the coffee shop in December with his family within the Sportsplex at 85 Mill Plain Road in Fairfield with the goal of giving the community a high-quality alternative.

“Our plan here was to have an upscale coffee shop, with everything and more than what a Starbucks would have,” he said. “We’re roasting fresh and we’re not having burnt roasts or anything like that.”

Inzero and his family started their coffee-roasting journey about 12 years ago in Colorado before they returned to Connecticut and started serving their coffee locally.

After selling their product at local ShopRites and other stores, Inzero said the interest in his coffee began growing and expanding into other stores and supermarkets. They eventually decided to open a coffee shop in Fairfield.

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The Candlewood Market places an emphasis on getting its coffee on the shelves and to the customers to maximize freshness and taste. Like wine, there is a process to making good coffee, Inzero said, adding that the difference between the two lies with the aging process.

“Wine gets better with age (while) coffee gets worse with age,” he said. “The longer that coffee sits around, the worse it gets.”

To make sure they put out the freshest coffee possible, Inzero said the business roasts its beans on-site with a small roaster to serve that day.

With that efficiency, Inzero said local roasters have an advantage over large-scale franchises.

“My wife’s argument is that always smells better than it tastes until we started out in Colorado and she had it fresh,” Inzero said, adding that he gets similar reactions from customers who are surprised by the taste of his shop’s coffee.

The store offers a marketplace for customers to pick up a variety of teas and coffees roasted on-site. Down the line, Inzero said the business is slated to have bins of single-origin beans and specialty coffee available for customers to purchase by the pound rather than going to supermarket.

Along with traditional light to dark roasts, Candlewood features a mix of different drinks for customers from its Nitro Bar. The coffee shop serves four different hot coffee roasts a day and 24 flavors and coffees at the Nitro Bar.

Much like craft breweries, Inzero said small coffee roasters have piqued the interest of customers who are looking for a locally made product. With eight taps available, the Nitro bar serves cold brew coffee, tea and kombucha, which has been a hit with customers, according to Inzero.

“They are definitely (making) an impact on Starbucks’ business,” he said. “When people are educated about their coffee and they actually start tasting the differences, they’ll go to a roaster like this all day long over Starbucks if they have a choice.”

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Candlewood Market is open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com

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