With colorful clay teapots lining the walls and the distinct smell of freshly brewed coffee lingering in the air, Sarikopa Organic Tea and Coffee House is steeped in character.Nestled just off the Riverside traffic circle between the State Police barracks and an abandoned gas station, the organic tea spot is an oasis complete with pear trees lining the exterior walls and tomatoes growing along the driveway.
Inside, a quiet corner offers a reprieve from the outside world, and just the promise of a hot drink—or cold, if a customer prefers—is soothing. The shop, which opened in February, is a labor of love for owner Agnes Kravit, who immigrated to New York from Lithuania 17 years ago with a dream of opening her own shop.
“I always wanted a coffee and tea house,” Ms. Kravit said while sitting in a bright blue plush armchair near the counter last week. “A place for people to come in and socialize and feel at home.”
She said she was excited to find the place in Riverside, and moved from her longtime home in East Hampton to Riverhead to be closer to her new business. The store first opened its doors on Valentine’s Day and since then has seen a steady number of new regulars looking for their daily caffeine jolt.
Every item in the European-style shop—from the displays to the artwork, and the 53 varieties of loose-leaf teas for sale by the cup—has been hand-picked by Ms. Kravit.
“I never had a store like this before, but always in my dreams,” she said. “This is a new experience.”
Ms. Kravit explained that Sarikopa means “yellow cup,” and refers to a mountain region in Armenia where farmers and residents rise early in the morning and climb the mountains, not stopping until noon for lunch.
“Everything is yellow,” she said. “Yellow sky, yellow grass … beautiful.”
The shop has a little bit of everything. Customers are welcome to smell and pick their fancy when it comes to the signature organic teas, which can be served hot or cold. Choices range from the standard, such as peppermint, to the relatively unheard of, such as Berry Picking Delight—a combination of flavors including rose hip, hibiscus, schizandra berry, blueberry and mango.
On the coffee side, Ms. Kravit encourages customers to try the espresso, macchiato or cappuccino, saying they are the highest quality coffee in the area.
Ms. Kravit also serves food: a variety of breakfast omelets, wraps, paninis and salads, all organically made in-house. Eventually, she hopes to incorporate the produce she is growing in her shop’s backyard into her cuisine.
For those wanting to try something new before diving in head-first, every day a sample cart offers a different flavor with the hope that, eventually, repeat customers will sample them all. One recent Tuesday morning, patrons were treated to Chocolate Seduction, a combination of rooibos—a South African plant—apple, cinnamon, cocoa peel, star aniseed and peppermint.
“I like variety. I always liked the healthy life and I like these teas and coffees,” Ms. Kravit said. “I like the good tastes of tea, so that is why we have 53, not five. Everybody has different tastes.”
The store has several options for seating, including indoor tables, a bar area—including board games—with stools, a closed-in porch and a back patio with outdoor seating. On some nights, Sarikopa offers live music and entertainment—anything to bring in customers.
The shop is also one of the first to open in Riverside since new development guidelines were put into place by Southampton Town late last year designed to bring new businesses to the downtown area. According to Siris Barrios, the community liaison with Riverside Rediscovered, a private organization hired by the town to facilitate the changes, the tea store is a perfect addition to the area.
“We are really excited,” Ms. Barrios, a fan of Sarikopa’s coconut chai, said this week. “There are many businesses that we want to continue help be successful, but we also welcome new businesses like Sarikopa that bring high-quality retail services to the area.
“We are excited to have a place where you can meet and have a delicious dessert and engage with people,” she continued. “The ambiance there is great, and everything from the music to the aesthetics is amazing.”
Riverside Rediscovered has also already held one of its monthly gatherings at Sarikopa. Ms. Barrios said the organization is happy to have a budding partnership with Ms. Kravit, who is eager to build a relationship with the community.
“I put a lot of love into this place,” Ms. Kravit said. “It’s like a home.”
Sarikopa is open 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. through 7 p.m. on weekends. More information can be found at Sarikopa.com.