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Empire Pioneers Artisan Coffee on Aquidneck Island

The coffee shop has exposed its clientele to high quality, artisan coffee.

The folks at take their brew seriously, which is why the coffee shop is offering an experience that can only be found locally at 22 Broadway.

For the last few months, Empire has introduced one of its newest additions: an artisan coffee bar.

Empire owner C.J. Barone said the brew bar is his favorite recent addition to the ever-expanding coffee shop.

The bar itself is a custom handmade piece made from reclaimed wood direct from Connecticut farm. The counter is made of 170-year-old oak and is supported by 150-year-old pine.

At the bar, employees who have been specially trained in the art of brewing use one of seven different brew methods.

The methods start off simply, like the pour-over technique or the aeropress. The bar begins to look more like a science lab when baristas have to break out the siphon to extract flavor from the beans.

Each bean is unique, and takes a different method to bring out its potential flavors.

Barone said he even closed down early and trained his entire staff on the brewing methods.

As the weather gets warmer, Empire will move forward with artisan iced blends.

“The coffee's change frequently and the response from customers has been fantastic,” he said.

The artisan coffee trend has been exploding across the country, and Barone said he was just trying to meet the demands of his clientele.

“I try to treat coffee like wine,” Barone said, as he took an indulgent sniff of the Piendamo before swirling it around the bottom of the mug and taking a sip.

Artisan coffee sways more to the expensive side for a cup of joe, but the way the beans are treated to create the cup makes it, by bringing out every note of flavor and texture, makes the experience worth a few extra bucks.

Not everyone wants to pay extra, but those who do know there has to be value in it, Barone said.

“People in Newport haven’t seen this before,” he said.

Check out the videos above to see exactly how artisan coffee is made.

Maggie Hepner April 06, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I moved from the Island several months ago, and Empire was in my neighborhood. I really miss it. It's a great place to meet up with people, read the paper, people watch, listen to music, and enjoy the great energy they have created. Oh, and the products; various liquid libations, yummy snacks, and essense are sublimb. The staff are always wonderful, and C. J. was never too busy to answer a question or to greet people coming in. I really do miss the place and the old neighborhood.

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