Social Coffee Roastery expands in Groton
Groton — With a new location at 747 Long Hill Road, Social Coffee Roastery now has a spot that is open seven days a week, year-round. And Groton, a town with a lot of Dunkin' and Starbucks, has another independent coffee shop.
Tom Piacenza opened his first Social location in Stonington Borough four years ago, and he opened at Mystic Seaport Museum in August. But both of those locations are closed Monday through Wednesday in the off-season, whereas the Groton location — opened in December — is open seven days a week.
"It's a great location," Piacenza said Tuesday, sitting in one of the six chairs in the shop. "It's doing well for a new business. Our customers are fantastic."
He has four employees across his stores, including two at the Groton location, whereas his role is roasting the organic coffee, packaging the beans and delivering bags to the McQuade's and Big Y stores where his coffee is sold.
Piacenza does his roasting at a facility in the Mystic Business Park and said his coffee is always fresh, whereas a lot of companies store their coffee in warehouses.
Piacenza, 64, came to coffee roasting later in life, after a 43-year career as a barber. And he said he has "no plans of ever retiring."
"I never wanted to be a barber," he said. He wanted to go into the Marines, but his mother was against the idea for Piacenza, the baby of the family. So, he became a third-generation barber, working in Norwich before spending the last 10 years of his career as a barber in the Borough.
Piacenza said he started taking classes to learn how to roast coffee about 7½ years ago, and started selling his coffee in the barber shop, from which he retired four years ago. He put a star as his logo to honor the military service of his father, who served in the 45th Infantry Division, also known as the Thunderbird division.
When his café opened in the Borough, Piacenza said it was an "overnight success."
His focus is on selling good, real coffee, not the sugary concoctions he calls "cotton candy coffee." He does carry about six bottles of syrup, though, as caramel and other flavors are popular.
The house blend is a three-bean blend, and a drip coffee costs $2.50 to $3. The dirty chai and lattes are customer favorites, and other options include Americano, cappuccino, macchiato, espresso, flat white and more.
The origins of his coffee include Indonesia, Colombia, Guatemala and Peru, and Piacenza said he will be getting coffee from Yemen. He wants his cafes to be consistent, so other than the hours, he indicated the menu options are the same.
Piacenza got rid of his pastries — "having food is very difficult, because there's a lot of waste," he said — but he plans to start serving cookies and a scoop of gelato.
He plans to open more cafes in the future but doesn't intend to open another in 2021, saying his focus this year is on selling Social's own cold brew.
"It's been a fun journey," he said. "I love the coffee business. I wish I got into it 20 years ago. I definitely have a passion for it."
Business: Social Cafe and Coffee Roastery
Where: 747 Long Hill Road, Groton
Owner: Tom Piacenza
Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Phone number: (860) 334-2819