Coffee Wars Heat up on Shelter Island

Whitehill3_MSThe coffee wars are heating up on Shelter Island as the Chequit’s White Hill Café enters the fray.

“White Hill Café is meant to be a ‘grab-and-go’ coffee house,” explained Chequit General Manager Karl Lopez. Not just a fancy hotel coffee shop, Lopez said the Chequit wants White Hill Cafe to be a coffee destination for local residents as well.

“It’s open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily right now. We want it to be something that locals stop by for to get their coffee,” he said.

After the summer season, White Hill Café will revert to a weekends only schedule.

Stocked with a gigantic espresso machine, White Hill Café is perfectly equipped to make everything from lattes to cappuccinos to caffé Americano.

Hot chocolate and iced tea are also on the menu. But this time of year they are mostly staying cool with their cold stir-brewed iced coffee.

“It takes 18 hours to make the concentrate and we chill it for that long. It has a low acidity, so it’s really good,” explained Tess Rosenberg, one of the baristas.

“Instead of hot brewing it, they cold brew instead, it’s steeped almost like a sun tea,” continued Lopez.

A cold stir-brewed coffee poured for a reporter is very strong, but once cold milk is added, it’s perfection.


The Chequit does not stiff on ingredients when it comes to their specialty coffees. White Hill Café only uses Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee and the beans are organic and fair trade grown. Café goodies like salted caramel brownies are from their partner Baked in NYC.

Another part of White Hill Cafe’s “grab-and-go” concept are picnic basket kits. Everything from insulated baskets and soft blankets to cheeses, meats, crackers and soft drinks are available at the café for guests to make their own picnic basket.

“The idea is just to stop here, grab your coffee, pack your little basket for the day and take it to the beach,” explained Lopez.

During a recent visit, hotel guests and even pedestrians wander into the café to look around and order a coffee. The black and white motive with red checkered napkins is particularly eye-catching.

“I think it’s great, I love all the changes,” said Andrea Poricelli of Las Vegas, who’s been coming to the Chequit for 20 years. “In the mid 1990s it was a whole different place, very charming, but off-beat. I think it’s amazing and I’ll be coming back for the next 20 years.”

“I’ve been here 18 years, most of my life, almost a Hare Legger,” Nicole Poleshuk, a barista at White Hill Cafe, said referring to the term given to Shelter Island natives. “It’s really exciting to have something new open up. It’s exciting to have a fresh place to go to hang out and get great coffee.”

White Hill Cafe is located at the Chequit Hotel at 23 Grand Avenue on Shelter Island.

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