By Joshua Palmes

Coffee is what helps many of us survive the day. Whenever you need a java fix, a Starbucks is usually close by, but you should first look for one of the state’s many locally-owned coffeehouses. Connecticut is home to a number of cafes that offer an alternative to national chains with a selection of beverages and snacks that cater to their community. Here are a few of the best.

J. Rene Coffee Roasters
320 Park Road
West Hartford,CT 06119
(860) 461-7858

Those who take their coffee seriously will definitely want to visit West Hartford’s “artisanal coffee gathering place.” J. Rene creates an intimate atmosphere for patrons who are more interested in bonding over first-rate coffee than getting lost in their laptops or tablets. Every coffee order at the shop is brewed individually for the customer by the staff’s expert baristas. It features a different artisan selection each week produced from beans all over the world and sells a variety of breads, muffins, macaroons, and other pastries baked in-house.

Lorca Coffee Bar
125 Bedford St.
Stamford, CT 06901
(203) 504-2847

Although tiny, Lorca has quickly established itself as one of the best independent coffee shops in Fairfield county since it opened in Stamford five years ago. Regulars can’t get enough of its specialty drinks: almond milk mocha, Mexican hot chocolate, London Fog tea latte with earl gray tea and lavender. But the biggest draw may be its pastries, especially the churros and dipping sauce, inspired by owner Leyla Jenkins’ childhood in Spain. A wide range of breakfast and lunch sandwiches round out the menu. You can now visit Lorca’s recently-opened second location in Cos Cob.

Story and Soil Coffee
387 Capitol Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105
(860) 303-4047

The coffee scene in Hartford got a little brighter last summer when Story and Soil Coffee opened its doors. A welcome addition to the capitol city’s Frog Hollow neighborhood, it pours coffee provided by Connecticut standouts such as Canton’s Giv and Darien’s NEAT. Spanish lattes are a popular favorite, but it has an impressive selection of espresso, cappuccino, cold brew and iced coffee. Complement your beverage with a cookie of croissant provided by First and Last Bakery.

Related:  Best Places For Iced Coffee In Connecticut

Tusk & Cup
51 Ethan Allen Highway
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(203) 544-0800

The name of this Italian-themed coffee house serves as both a pun (“Tuscan cup”) and a tribute to the exalted place elephants have held in Italian culture. Inside respect is paid to the country’s coffee culture with a variety of perfectly-brewed espressos. Equally noteworthy is the shop’s hand-made gelato – enjoy it by itself in a dish, or mixed in a frappe. The best of the latter is the Crema Fredda blended with espresso and your choice of flavored coffee. Tusk and Cup is also open in Wilton.

Ashlawn Farm Coffee
455 Boston Post Road
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
(860) 339-5663

Conveniently located next to the Old Saybrook train station, Ashlawn Farm Coffee is a welcome respite for those traveling through Connecticut. It sources its beans from the top coffee-producing countries around the globe, so there is always a striking selection to choose from. Just as tempting are the baked goods – bagels, scones, brownies – made from locally-supplied ingredients. If you’re impressed by a particular coffee make sure to pick up a bag for yourself in the gift shop, which also sells Ashlawn Farm gear.

Related: Best Healthy Breakfasts In Connecticut