Behind the Scenes of Martha’s Vineyard’s Newest Coffee Bar, Behind the Bookstore

Last week when I was passing Edgartown Books on Main Street in Edgartown, I saw the sign for Behind the Bookstore Coffee Bar, and my interest was piqued.  Short on time, I had to wait to go back another week, and let me tell you, I am in love.


The walkway back to btb (lowercase letters on purpose and is actually its logo) and the outside seating space has been landscaped by Donoroma’s.

On Tuesday, Sperry sails were hung to shade the space, and let me tell you that this is quite the little oasis in downtown Edgartown.  It’s a place that feels a little hidden, off the beaten path so to say, and it’s just plain awesome.  Though brand new, it just opened June 1st, it somehow feels as though it’s been there all along.

The coffee bar itself is in a small, but wonderfully designed and decorated, and is in a building connected to Edgartown Books.  When you walk through the door, you’re greeted by great music and a seriously pleasant staff. There is a full selection of coffee and juices, and of course tempting pastries.

Who is running this great new place?  Meet the sweet and adorable Rachael Fox.  She is a self-trained cook who has worked in some amazing restaurants in Venice, California and New York City.

Like many of those who choose a path in the kitchen, she was working 90 hours a week, and close to burn out. Little did she know that dinner with her friend Natalie and her dad, Jeffery Sudikoff, would lead to a whole new world.

Meeting at the Blue RibbonRestaurant in NYC, Jeff presented the opportunity to Rachael  to run and make the food for Edgartown Books’ newest 2013 addition, a coffee shop.  Though comfortable in all areas of the kitchen, Rachel is particularly fond of baking.

So, she would be come a business manager and the baker for the iconic Edgartown Books.  On a side note, Joyce and Jeffrey Sudikoff bought Edgarotwn Books last year, and have been working with manager, Susan Mercier to make amazing changes. Read all about it in an earlier On Point post.

That dinner took place in December. Rachael moved to the Island in January.  She lived with Susan and fast became a member of the Mercier family.

Susan and her family introduced her to lots of Island folks, and by overseeing the renovation of the space for the btb, she met a lot of people.  Six months later, Rachael is well immersed in the Island community and loving it!

Aside from running the coffee bar, Rachel also bakes all the pastries daily. She believes in using local ingredients when possible, and organic, natural ingredients.

For her, she feels as though what she makes has to have integrity and be as fresh as possible.  Some of the staples you’ll find include chocolate cookies — which are fantastic — and different from a lot of other chocolate cookies.  There are some secret ingredients in there, and it was so good, I ate the whole thing.

Let’s also talk about her sticky buns with a maple glaze.  You’ll frequently see maple used with Rachel’s baked goods.  She likes to pay homage to New England’s natural sweetener.  Also, don’t forget to grab a scone too.

In the next two weeks, btb will be offering prepared lunches.  Right now it’s just the pastries, but they’re partnering with Katama General Store (Jackie and Doug Korell) to offer some simple and delicious meals on the go.  There will be salads, hummus, antipasto, and sandwiches (made on the brioche that Rachael makes).

The Barista

On to the coffee, which anyone who knows me knows, I need to survive.  Since it’s Summer, I was drawn to trying the iced coffee.  The nice thing about btb iced coffee is that it is cold brew.

So, it’s actually steeped for 16 – 18 hours.  The end result is an iced coffee that is less acidic, more flavorful and offers an intense chocolate feel.  Does Rachel do this too?  Nope, she has an expert barista, Phill Kim.

Phill works closely with  Intelligentsia Coffee.  He has helped them open a store in California, and is really knowledgeable about their beans and how to work with them.

Meeting Phill, I can tell that he loves his coffee, it’s his craft.  In charge of the music play list, whipping up a coffee masterpiece — I think he’s in heaven.  He, like Rachel, is a transplant from L.A.  I have to say that both of these city folks are loving life MV-style.

Calling President Obama

Since we all know the President and his family are coming to Martha’s Vineyard this Summer, Phil has created the btBama iced latte.  What makes this drink a must for your Bucket list?  Well, let’s start off with the fact that it has four shots of espresso, and to make it fun and fresh, there is grapefruit zest.

I know all you espresso drinkers who like a lemon twist in their drink are curious.  This is a serious but tasty iced latte my friends.  President Obama — this you have to try.

Cold Pressed Juice

So, btb is a coffee bar which means like any bar, you can get more than one type of drink. Today I learned about the newest trend in juicing, cold pressed juices.  For all you juicers and non-juicers,  this is a big deal.

btb has a cold press which means the veggies are shredded and pressed with one thousand pounds of pressure.  The result is a juice with more nutrients, more color, and more vitality.  No heat is used at any time, which I learned takes away from the quality of the juice.

These are actually really tasty.  I don’t even like beets but I enjoyed the Beet, Carrot, Ginger.  The ginger made it really flavorful.  There are a variety of flavors, and these juices also provide a boost.

They are so full of good stuff, that you feel better after drinking them.  It’s not just coffee that can provide a little injection of energy.  These juices are so good for you, that they can easily replace a meal, and leave you feeling satisfied.  Rachael swears by these.  Give one a try!

The Name

Why the name Behind the Bookstore?  Jeff came up with that name.  It was a play on directions given on the Vineyard.  You know, take a left at the big tree or a right at the rock with the buoy next to it.  Where is the Edgartown Books coffee shop?  Why, it’s behind the bookstore of course.  The name is clever and fitting.

The Future of btb

btb is open Sunday thru Thursday from 6:30 a.m. -6:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday to 9:30 p.m. It’s a great alternative to a bar.  There are desserts being offered and of course, great beverages.  There is also WIFI.  I think I just found my Summer place to write!

It will be open until Columbus Day Weekend.  Then, it is being shut down and there are going to be some serious changes.  The footprint of the bookstore is going to be expanded and you will be able to go into btb through Edgartown Books.

Once all of these renos are done, btb will be year round.  There will be indoor seating, and I can imagine this might be the new hot spot for Islanders.

Oh and here’s a little tease to something fun.  Soon, there will be TNT, Thursday Night Throw-downs.  What you may ask?  Wrestling?  No, a number of Island coffee shops and enthusiasts will be hosting a fun competition with latte art.

We’re talking a lot more than a heart or a moon.  It’s serious stuff.  I imagine Phill is going to be a tough one to beat in this.  Coffee Culture (opening soon), Todd Christy (Chilmark Coffee), and of course btb are in already.  Let’s see who else jumps on board.

Thanks for reading On Point. You can find Edgartown Books on Facebook.  Behind the Bookstore plans to have a Facebook page soon.  And speaking of social media, don’t forget to  “Like” us on Facebook, on follow us on TwitterLinked InPinterest and YouTube.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about the new owners of Edgartown Books, check out The Next Chapter of Edgartown Books.  Also, here are a couple before photos of Behind the Bookstore.

4 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes of Martha’s Vineyard’s Newest Coffee Bar, Behind the Bookstore”

  1. I’ve visited this place and indeed it is very charming..the quality of all the food and drink is excellent, the design of the small shop, and of course the outdoor space. However there is a person who works there that I think needs to work on their social skills. I also was told by my friend (who paid for our food while I held a table out back for us) that both times she paid with her credit card, this same person behind the counter specifically said to them ‘…and do you want to add a tip to that?’, which we both agreed was very de-classe.

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