If there’s one word Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee owner Laura Freed wants people to think about when the second branch of her popular Ridgefield coffee spot opens in Wilton Center this weekend, it’s “specialty.”

“We are a specialty coffee shop, and we’re all about coffee,” Freed says. “Whether it’s the training we give our baristas, the sourcing of the coffee beans, everything is held to the highest standard when it comes to coffee.”

Of course there are other words too that she uses, as she talks about opening Tusk & Cup Wilton with her husband Joe Ancona, her son Josh Freed (T&C’s director of operations), and master barista/coffee director Jason Varga. They are all looking forward to bringing the warm atmosphere, all natural food and family-owned experience that customers have come to love at their first location to their new spot at 142 Old Ridgefield Rd..

“Family—that’s a good word. This is a family business, and our customers have become family. It’s sort of like the coffee version of Cheers,’” she says. “We know what they drink, we know their names, moms come in the afternoon and do homework with their kids. It really becomes the Tusk & Cup family.”

They’re excited about giving Wilton its first taste of what Tusk & Cup Wilton will be like this Sunday morning, May 8. They’ll be open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. for a pre-opening celebration, giving away free coffee, cappuccino, espresso and gelato, as well as sampling some other items. It will be the precursor to the store being officially open Monday morning at 6 a.m., if all goes well and the final permits get signed, T’s crossed and I’s dotted.

Josh, as director of operations and Jason, as coffee director and master barista, are the driving forces behind the Tusk & Cup expansion. In fact, Jason recently won a “Latte Art competition” against 23 other baristas. Laura says that skill and artistry behind good coffee is what makes the difference. And the quality goes beyond that to everything in Tusk & Cup.

Tusk & Cup josh espresso machine
Josh Freed, director of operations at Tusk & Cup
Jason vArga
Jason Varga, coffee director/master barista for Tusk & Cup. He recently won a Latte Art Competition, beating out 23 other baristas for the title.

“We use local roasters, local produce, all natural products for everything, There’s nothing with artificial colors or flavors. The chicken in our chicken salad, the cold cuts in our sandwiches, it’s all all-natural, no preservatives,” she says. There are always pastries, bagels, croissants, cookies sandwiches, salads and soups in addition to a wide variety of coffee drinks and tea.

That quality also extends to their gelato, the fun flip side of “espresso and gelateria.” Tusk & Cup’s gelato is all hand-made on the premises with all-natural flavors and ingredients.

gelato

The gelato and elephant theme gives a glimmer into the story behind the origin of Tusk & Cup. “That’s the question everyone ask the most—where did the name come from?” Laura laughs.

Laura and Joe were on their honeymoon in Tuscany when the idea sparked. “On every street, on one corner was an espresso place and on the other was a gelateria. That’s when I said, ‘If we’re doing coffee then we should also do gelato,’” Laura recalls. “I want it to feel like it’s an escape to Italy, and it’s a mini-experience anytime someone comes into Tusk & Cup. We try to recreate the European coffee experience.”

In Italy, an elephant with a raised trunk is a symbol of health, longevity and prosperity; facing the doorway, good luck will come through the elephant, Laura explains.

“Joe’s Italian family had an elephant on the family crest. And Tusk & Cup is a name play on the word Tuscany,” she says, noting there will be elephants in Wilton of course, just as there are in Ridgefield.

There will also be a fireplace, something that she felt was important to have in both stores. “A fireplace is a gathering point, and I always like to gather by a fireplace. It’s about the atmosphere. I’m drawn to hotels where you find a fireplace in the lobby. It’s cozy,” she says.

Also making the inside cozy, there will be artwork on the walls, just like Ridgefield. They often feature links to local artists they display on their walls on the Tusk & Cup website. And they’ll carry through the same color motif, with mediterranean, cobalt blue accents and sunflower yellow walls in the decor.

Laura says they also hope to continue promoting local businesses and people in Wilton like they do in Ridgefield. With the Wilton Library right across the street, and being able to have outdoor seating right there in Wilton Center, they’re excited about the location.

“We’ve tried to make it a communal place, we’ve hosted authors’ and artists’ talks in Ridgefield and would like to do the same in Wilton. We’re already teaming up with the Wilton Library on their ‘Wilton Reads’ program featuring Kenya–we’ll be having Kenyan coffee at some of their events. We’re open to doing a lot of that and we always try to figure something out,” Laura says of partnering with community organizations.

All that’s left now to get ready for Sunday is getting all the furniture in place, stocking the shelves and making sure everyone on staff who needs a key has one. “We can’t wait to be all moved in and welcome that first customer,” she says.

Wilton’s Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee is located at 142 Old Ridgefield Rd.. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturdays 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sundays 7 a.m.-6 p.m..