When I asked my Greenwich friend about Espressohuis, a cafe that opened more than a year ago in Schuylerville, she got pretty excited.
"Oh, I'd love to go there. I've heard they have good sandwiches."
In the Schuylerville/Stillwater area and across the Hudson River in Washington County, there's a buzz about this little place, and it's not just because of its coffee, which is fairly traded and organic. Check this out, Frugal Foragers. A 12-ounce cup of joe is $1.86, a latte or cappucino of the same size is $3.10.
In the summer, there's live music outdoors on a large, inviting deck. This winter, they've done open mic nights and karaoke. According to my Greenwich friend, a casual meeting place like this was desperately needed in this part of the world.
But wait, there's more.
WHERE: 31 Ferry St., Schuylerville
WHEN: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
HOW MUCH: $19.54
MORE INFO: 507-6315, Facebook. Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Discover. Parking lot and street parking.
Espressohuis is a caring place, as it's run by Schuylerville's Faith Chapel Assembly of God and some of its profits support the local food pantry, the library and other community organizations.
On Facebook, the cafe vows to be earth friendly, too.
My Greenwich friend and I felt comfy from the moment we stepped onto the creaky wooden floors of the long narrow space, which shares an old brick building on Route 29, and is walking distance to Route 32, the main drag in Schuylerville.
We picked a table close to the counter, where we could see and hear what was going on. The espresso machine was grinding and humming. A bumpy hubbard squash sat on the counter next to glass canisters filled with whole coffee beans. Paintings, hand-crocheted potholders and other creations by local artists hang on the cafe's brick wall.
Standing at the counter, one orders from a illuminated menu sign.
The only clues to the cafe's higher purpose are the words "Donate to Charities" on that sign, and a big jar next to the cash register overflowing with dollar bills.
“All the tip money is donated to local charities,” the friendly woman behind the counter told us.
The menu is anti-Starbucks: uncomplicated, unpretentious and affordable.
My Greenwich girlfriend was in the mood for a turkey sandwich with cranberry ($6.48).
“It’s really good. It's got the right amount of cranberry,” she said.
But she admitted the roll that carried the filling was quite uninteresting.
My eggplant focaccia ($7.48) was a winner on the inside, too, with its thin slices of warm eggplant, melted cheese and generous clump of mixed organic greens. The red pepper and kalamata tapenades slathered on the veggies was the perfect tangy touch.
But the outside was a disappointment.
Focaccia is a yeasty, oven-baked flat bread, similar to a pizza crust, and often rustic.
The bread in this sandwich looked and tasted like a limp panini made with uniform-sized slices of commercial whole wheat bread.
I loved that our food was served on real plates, but again, after all the hype that preceded our visit, I was a bit surprised that both sandwiches were served with only a dull dill pickle and some potato chips.
On the beverage menu, besides espresso, caffe breve and chai latte, you'll see smoothies for $3.93. For an extra buck, you can add chia or flax seed.
For serious tea drinkers, like my Greenwich pal and I, the cafe has a nice selection of bagged Mighty Leaf teas ($2), including mate, served in clear glass cups and accompanied by a tiny tray for the used bag.
On the way out, I looked at what other people were eating.
Big, luscious-looking salads made with organic greens! They make six kinds, all under $8. A house salad is $3.27.
And their made-from-scratch soups, described daily on Facebook, sound so tempting. Roasted red pepper gouda, creamy artichoke basil, loaded potato with bacon, to name just a few.
And did I mention the homemade scones, cookies and cupcakes, like a strawberry shortcake scone made with Chobani yogurt?
If you are in the Schuylerville area, this cafe might be just the place for an afternoon snack or a caffeine pick-me-up, especially in the summer, when Saratoga Springs is choked with tourists.
I'll plan to stop in again when I'm biking at the Battlefield or picking blueberries at Winney's Farm.
The word "espressohuis" is Dutch for espresso house, and the "u" is pronounced with an "ew" sound.
Schuylerville was settled by the Dutch in the 17th century. In December, the village celebrates the feast of St. Nicholaas.
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or email@example.com.