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WorkinCT: Pink slips open door for Glastonbury couple to pursue their passion

GLASTONBURY -- Douglas Barber looks at home showing off the beans that go into the brews at Berkins Blend Café in Glastonbury, but it wasn’t so long ago that he and his wife, Andrea Hawkins, were in corporate America facing layoffs.

“We both found ourselves without jobs the exact same week and we thought, divine intervention, we’re supposed to be right where we are,” said Hawkins, who co-owns Berkins Blend Café.

They thought about going back to their careers, but instead decided to follow their passion. Being big foodies, the two looked at different franchising options. When that was too expensive, they decided to give it a go on their own and found the perfect spot while picking up Chinese food next door.

“There was a little piece of paper sign on the door that said if you’re interested in this space, contact the property manager and we did that, and from there, we started down the process of signing the lease for this space and beginning the build out,” said Hawkins.

They designed and built the space themselves. Since it was set to open a month after the couple got married, they named the place Berkins as a combination of their last names.

“We really wanted this to be a community gathering place, and we wanted it also to be a place where people can come and have meetings, be comfortable here in the setting, be able to use their technology and also enjoy our great coffee and the foods that we offer here,” said Hawkins.

That’s why the café has outlets throughout the space and three computers available for customers to use.

It’s a welcoming space that customers appreciate.

“I come here every day on my break. I stay here for an hour. I just work my business, play on my phone, drink my coffee and just relax and enjoy myself,” said Hannah Nerkowski from Rocky Hill.

“It’s a great environment in there. I use the place for work every morning. It’s a good sense of community here as you can see, everyone knows each other, and it’s great for the animals. When the weather is nice, Simon here, he hangs out here for probably three, four hours a day just lays in the sun,” said Mike Pieri from Glastonbury.

It’s not only the atmosphere that has customers coming back. There are fine teas, fresh drinks and baked goods that are now made on the premises. Plus, there’s coffee.

“I’m a coffee purest, so we have a single blend of coffee that we get from Portland, Oregon. I think it’s delicious, a little different flavor than you get around town,” said Barber.

Something unique on the menu is the Nitro coffee.

“Nitro coffee is an infusion of pure nitrogen into a nice cold brew coffee, so coffee is cold brewed approximately 20 hours cold brewed, and then we put it in a keg, infuse it with pure nitrogen. What it delivers is a nice cold brew – looks like a Guinness, it pours out of a stout tap like a Guinness beer, but it’s very smooth,” said Barber.

All little touches make Berkins Blend Café unique, and owners Doug and Andrea are thankful they took a chance.

“I still have every day, what I call these goose bump moments. So when a new customer walks in and they look around and say ‘Wow’ and they just get the sense of calm and peace when they walk in, that’s what we’re looking for. And when they take that sip of their latte, and when they say ‘My God this is the best latte I ever had,’ again, those goose bump moments. I’ve got them right now,” said Barber.