Sunday, January 10, 2010

KC's Coffee Place: A friendly place with good coffee, healthy food

At KC's Coffee Place, which recently celebrated its 10 anniversary in downtown Chester, it's never been just about the coffee, even though the coffee is highly praised by the locals.

Really, it's always been about the homey atmosphere of the place, and it's something that owner, Kimberly "KC'' Costello, really prides herself in.

"You make really great relationships here,'' KC says, "People [are] meeting people, and you see the kids growing up, and it's just so nice.''

The space, while small, never seems closed in. There are vibrant pictures and funny little signs adorning the walls, and it's a purely cozy environment just right for a slice of conversation with your morning or evening cup of Joe.

"It's kind of like a modern day general store,'' KC says while taking a sip from some of her own coffee and smiling. "You have people meet and greet, and I network with people. Someone [might be] looking for a job, whether it's babysitting, or landscaping or anything like that, and it works out well. I enjoy the people. It's fun.''

The place sells the kinds of beverages you would find in your typical coffeehouse, so whatever your tongue is slapping at the roof of your mouth for, KC's likely has it.

"I open at 6:30 in the morning, and we're on the right side for traffic, and that's good, so people can just pull over and run in because there's no shops open,'' KC says, "So they can just run in and get a coffee, an espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, and chai tea is probably one of our biggest sellers. We do a really good chai latte.''

But what kind of modern-day java joint would be worth its bag of coffee beans if all it served was Joe?

KC, a former cosmetologist who worked many jobs before, all of them involving people, acknowledges this fact, too. And that's why she's brought on one of her good friends and chef, Paul Viggiano, who has appeared on the Food Network show "Chopped,'' for his stellar cooking abilities.

"We try to do sandwiches that people really, really like, but a little different,'' says
Viggiano, who makes sure that all of the food he prepares is all-natural and delicious. "We gotta keep it healthy, right?''

Some of these healthy but sumptuous sandwiches include the unusual, such as salami with apple butter, and more traditional, such as another with roasted red peppers and mozzarella and a tarragon spread.

"Food is who we are, and we have to be as close to nature as possible, as far as eating,'' Viggiano says, "I mean, we have it available to us, in Jersey. So there's no reason to buy processed peppers.''

Along with great sandwiches, KC's also makes great soups, and what better way to cap off a stellar sandwich than with an outstanding soup?

"Yes, [we do] soups and we do little small sandwiches,'' KC says, "And with everything going on, with stuff being expensive, we're doing a lot more stews, like heartier soups, and we're doing the 12-ounce cup for $3.50. And then, [there's] the little sandwiches for $2.50. Together, we make it five dollars, and where else can you get soup and a sandwich for five bucks? Plus, it's good, and it's all homemade.''

KC's also offers some its cooking outside the restaurant.

"We've done a lot of parties, [and we] even [have] intimate cooking lessons in people's homes,'' KC says.

But if there's one message that KC would like customers to leave with when they exit her shop, it's this:

"You can get a little pick-me-up [here], you always have somebody to talk to, and it's cozy,'' KC says, as she caps off her own cup of coffee and offers a friendly grin.

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