Living Well in Litchfield County, Connecticut

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Sari Goodfriend

The Art of Coffee

Custom Blends at Krafted Brew Lab 

By Clementina Verge

Whether indulging in a decadent espresso or Americano, it is easy to overlook that only days earlier, the coffee beans infusing that drink were raw, tasteless, and unmemorable. They find their way to Litchfield County from faraway lands, including Ethiopia, Burundi, Panama, Mexico, Zambia, and here—in a charming Bantam cafe—Jason Wallengren brings out the best in each bean via a meticulous roasting and crafting process.

The Krafted Brew Lab, opened by Jason and his wife Kimberly last summer, is aptly named: science and art meet as the couple experiments with small-batch, artisanal coffee and flavors from around the world.   

The desire to create such an experience ignited years ago in New Zealand where Jason, an accomplished artist, completed a residency—and later intensified in Germany, where Kimberly’s marketing career anchored them for a decade.

“The coffee culture in every country we visited is so unique and meaningful,” Kimberly reminisces. “In Italy, it’s the espresso. In Germany, it’s the Sunday “kaffee und kuchen” ritual of afternoon coffee and cake with friends. As we spent time in different cafes, with different people, we loved seeing the passion behind hand-crafted coffee.”

Sari Goodfriend

During those years abroad, the couple—who now live in New Preston with their two children—learned the difference between mediocre and consistently outstanding coffee: a multistep process that begins with high-quality beans, followed by perfect roasting, precise grinding, and proper pouring.

At KBL, it starts with imported, single-origin beans. Because climate, altitude, and soil composition influence flavor profile, customers sample a variety of aromas, whether African citrusy notes or a sweeter Latin American flair. Next, the roasting process demands a delicate balance of time and temperature.

“If that roast isn’t right, it doesn’t matter how fancy your coffee maker is, that cup of coffee will not be right,” explains Jason, who takes great pride in preparing some 150 pounds of beans in-house each week, and achieving optimal flavor—including nutty, floral, earthy, or chocolaty subtleties. 

Sari Goodfriend

Launching a business endeavor during a pandemic was not easy, but inspired by their overseas experience with coffee’s power to lift mood, incite conversation, and foster a creative environment, the Wallengrens opened KBL in August 2020. They gratefully acknowledge the community for being welcoming and supportive and are happy to have found their place in Bantam, “a revitalized creative enclave.” 

In addition to teas and freshly roasted coffees, KBL offers baked goods from Litchfield-based Troy Brook Bakery and drinkware handcrafted by local artist Claire Chapman.

Sari Goodfriend

Whether crafting a cappuccino to jumpstart someone’s morning or a macchiato for a mid-afternoon energy boost, the Wallengrens strive to create a memorable elixir of freshly roasted coffee with each drink.

“For us, it’s not just a cup of coffee,” Kimberly explains. “We want people to know that we are a unique place that really takes coffee seriously. We love conversations with our customers, educating them about what we’ve learned, and sharing our passion and joy.”
725 Bantam Rd, Bantam

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