Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eating Out in Chester: KC's Coffee Place

(Picture taken by: Dawn Benko from the Daily Record)

Starbucks might be trendy, and it might have pretty good drinks, but does it have live music? How about crocheting classes during the week? Probably not.

That's why you have to patronize your local coffee shops — to get the full experience of drinking a great cuppa Joe and hearing — or trying — something entirely new. KC's Coffee Place in Chester fits that bill.

"We're going to try to start doing some music on Saturdays during January and February," says owner Kimberly Costello, the KC in KC's Coffee Place. "And we're also going to do a crocheting class during the week."

The idea of having a crocheting class here was serendipitous.

"I had this woman who was knitting when she came in, and I asked if she could make a pair of fingerless gloves as mine were getting really ratty," Costello says. "And it turned out that she came up with a pattern, and she crocheted a pair for me. In the last two weeks, I've probably sold 30 pairs."

That's right, Costello is actually selling items from one of her customers, which sums up the attitude at KC's Coffee Place: You're never just drinking coffee here, you're having an experience as well.

"A lot of my regulars were like, 'I'd love to learn how to crochet, because the woman who made the original gloves is going to teach it," Costello says, "it's so silly how many I've sold. Like, wow. You never know."

But KC's wouldn't be worth its weight in coffee beans if the drinks weren't stellar. Luckily for us, it is, and Costello offers a nice variety to boot.

"We have a really great peppermint milk chocolate," Costello says. "And what we're kind of really known for right now is the hot chocolate with the works, which is cream milk, mini-marshmallows, whipped cream and sprinkles. We call it KC's Famous Hot Chocolate."

The "famous" drink has an interesting back story: "I had a girl here, and we had only opened for like, two months," Costello says. "And I remember running out and getting more chocolate and milk and running back and saying, 'Write a sign for our hot chocolate.' She had written a sign that said, 'Try out KC's famous hot chocolate,' and I had only been open for two months."

She laughs about this, but the even funnier part may be that it seemed to work.

"Customers were like, 'Oh, wow, famous hot chocolate, huh?' " Costello says. "And then I heard people walking by going, 'Oh, yeah, I've heard about that hot chocolate.' And we're like, hey, whatever works."

And it certainly has worked. It's especially popular with the kids, who love everything that goes into it, which does make it famous now, at least in the area. Who knew?

But it's not the only famous item on the menu.

"We do a great gingerbread latte," Costello says. "And eggnog latte, and we always do great chai tea lattes. I sell a lot of chai tea."

Outside of the great drinks and interesting clubs, though, KC has one other message she wants to get across to the public: She wants your club, whatever it may be, to start making KC's your go-to place.

"Any groups are welcome," Costello says. "Whatever they want to do. We're open for anything."

WHERE: 56 Main St., Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-9932
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
CUISINE: Gourmet coffees, cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, pastries, cookies and specialty desserts
PAYMENT: Visa and MasterCard
PRICE RANGE: Coffee, $1.75 to $2.25; specialty flavored drinks, $3 to $4.50; cookies, muffins, bagels and pastries, 75 cents to $2.75
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: Coffee bar nestled among the antique shops and specialty stores that line Chester's Main Street
ATMOSPHERE: Inviting and intimate bistro with rich coffee aroma and trays of tempting-looking cookies and pastries; KC is happy to talk to you; the overall environment is fun and playful.
PARKING: Parking lot next door
OWNER: Kimberly "KC" Costello

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