Annika Dyczkowski ’25
“Great coffee. Better Community.” These words are painted boldly on Story and Soil’s website, a coffee shop local to Hartford. Upon first visiting their location on Capitol Avenue, I admired their neighborly and welcoming atmosphere.
The exterior of the cafe is painted a mid-bright green, causing it to stand out from surrounding buildings and businesses. This first impression is a warm invitation inside the shop, which embraces a similar theme to the outside of the building. The inside offers limited seating (as a result of COVID), however many potted plants and succulents decorate the windows and corners, a neon sign hangs at eye-level on the back wall, and a bright yellow powder-coated espresso machine lives right next to the register. All of these eccentric, vivid additions build Story and Soil’s brand, showing that it greets the surrounding Hartford community with its charm and individualist spirit.
They first opened in July 2017 with the intent to “build relationships through coffee”, as found on the business’s website. They truly emphasize that bringing the Hartford community together is their ultimate goal, all while providing delicious coffee and baked goods.
Their Yelp is overwhelmed with consistent five-star reviews, but one review by Jason P. from May of last year stuck out. He shares that he had a great experience paired with excellent coffee, but “after drinking 2/3 of [his] Giv Natural Ethiopian iced coffee from S&S, [he] was tempted to freeze the rest in an ice cube tray to preserve it for the welfare of future generations.” I found his description quite humorous, but after visiting myself I felt this statement was justified: “At Story and Soil as much as we love great coffee, we love the community that it brings together even more. We want all to feel welcome here.”
Before visiting I browsed their Instagram (@StoryAndSoilCoffee) to get a sense of their environment and brand. They post an array of content, such as announcements, store updates, and professionally shot photos of their latte art and other drinks. I was intrigued by how experienced and welcoming their baristas seemed, so I decided to give Story and Soil a try.
I walked in and the environment was identical to what they were marketing on social media and their baristas were super friendly and helpful when I asked questions about their different drinks. I eventually decided on a small vanilla latte and, after waiting only a few short minutes, I was adoring the delicately poured foam and delicious espresso. Although it was a traditional drink that can be found at any coffee shop, I enjoyed how they seemed to master the perfection of simplicity. Although I will always recommend their hot latte, they offer other drinks that are a novel to the coffee community.
This past fall they released many new, seasonal drinks that can only be applauded for their creativity. One example is “Lobby Boy,” a cranberry espresso tonic garnished with candied rosemary (inspired by the film The Grand Budapest Hotel) as part of their Wes Anderson Fall series. More recently they offered Hot Chocolate with a twist: marshmallow chocolate s’mores syrup atop an adaptogenic milk that is “rich, creamy, totally unique.”
Overall I was very satisfied with my experience at Story and Soil, and I look forward to my next visit. Their Hartford location is a five-minute drive from campus, or about a twenty minute walk north from Vernon Street. Consider visiting Story and Soil when you are in the mood for a simple espresso or an exclusive creation from a few of the best baristas in the greater Hartford area; they always have great coffee, and an even better community.