Review: Fire Island Coffee

My husband John makes the best cup of coffee. It’s one of the reasons I married him. This achievement does not require a cutting- edge device to brew the perfect cup – our Mr. Coffee maker has served us well for years. He does not require exotic beans from an expensive gourmet shop either, but nevertheless he is always on the hunt for interesting brands to add to his curated list. So when I heard that Fire Island Coffee was now available for general sale, it peaked our interest.

In full disclaimer, Fire Island Coffee is owned by the parent company of this publication, and it is served at The Palms Hotel Fire Island and CJ’s Restaurant & Bar – both also owned by the same parent company. However even if this was not the case, it would still be a product worthy of consideration for this column.

Of course the coffee is not grown on this Northeast American barrier island, instead it is supplied by Brooklyn Roasting Company. This boutique firm has built its reputation on sourcing sustainable, fair trade beans from regions of the world known for fine coffee. They supply some of the finest New York City Metropolitan Region restaurants and espresso bars as well, so Palms and CJ’s are among good company. The specialty blends they make for Fire Island Coffee are prepared to precise client specifications, to assure consistency and high quality.

At present Fire Island Coffee comes in two varieties, both aptly named: Lighthouse, which is ironically a dark roast; and The Grove, which is more of a blonde roast.

Testing criteria had its own stipulations as far as this author was concerned. If this review was going to happen, brewing conditions would have to be the same as any cup of coffee I have enjoyed from the comfort of my home – Mr. Coffee maker and all. Back to my husband’s coffee, in this article I’m going to share a couple of his trade secrets.

Keep it Clean: Nothing kills the flavor faster than a dirty coffee brewing apparatus. Clean it, and do so often. Also use mild detergents that will not leave a residue taste. While we are on the subject, whatever the coffee maker of your choice, always spend the bit of extra money for the model with an automatic shut-off feature. Too many fire calls on Fire Island have begun with someone forgetting to turn off this homey kitchen appliance.
Unbleached Filters: You know how you go to the grocery store and see a stack of white coffee filters for a very low price, right beside a shorter stack of tan colored filters at a slightly higher price? The white filters are bleached, so unless you are one of those people who like a bleach aftertaste to your cup of Joe, reach for the tan ones. There are places to save pennies, but coffee filters are not one of them.
A Touch of Cinnamon: It’s John’s secret ingredient, and he insists on really good cinnamon from Madagascar for this crucial step. You need only a pinch! Add it to your unbleached filter before adding the coffee for best results. Cinnamon cuts coffee acidity, so it will be smoother, whatever brand you use. Folklore also says that cinnamon is a preventative against age-related memory issues. Does it really work? All I can say is I woke up this morning and remembered I had to write this news article, so there you go!

Now was the moment of truth – tasting time! Over the years, my husband has adapted to my preference for strong, dark roasted coffee, and with that said we reached for the Lighthouse flavor first. It had a robust flavor, fragrant aroma, all those good things us high-test drinkers demand. However one of the most wonderful things about coffee is after a lifetime of drinking it, the beverage still has the potential to surprise. In this case it was how good the Grove flavor really was.

While I’m not really a blonde roast kind of gal, the complexity of flavor in the Grove blend was really intriguing. It had a crisp nutty taste, with notes of cherry, fitting to the namesake Fire Island community it alludes to.

However, if you are one of those people who reheat the coffee you made in morning and drink it through the day, Lighthouse is a durable brew that retains its flavor well over the course of the day. It is also a good choice for people who like to drink their coffee iced – and really who does not like a refreshing cup of iced coffee in the summer?

Both flavors come in attractive packaging that makes them perfect for gift giving. Add a handsome Fire Island coffee mug, and you’ve got an awesome Father’s Day gift!

Fire Island Coffee is available for purchase in The Palms Hotel lobby gift shop on Cottage Walk, or online at We predict that list of sales outlets will grow in the very near future.