Newly Opened Perkatory Coffee Roasters Brings a Skateboard and Punk Rock Vibe to Branford

BRANFORD — When asked how she and her husband Joe were able to open four cafes, employ a stable of 24 employees and run a thriving wholesale business in the span of three years, Johanna Perazella, co-owner of Perkatory Coffee Roasters, took a break.

“It’s coffee freshness,” said Leighton Davis, who ordered an eggnog latte on a recent afternoon at Perkatory, which opened last month at 4 Brushy Plains Road in Branford.

Michele Malerba, who was expecting a cranberry ginger espresso mocktail, stepped in. “Just the wide variety,” she said, pointing to the menu above the bar featuring everything from filter coffee to cappuccino and macchiato, to frozen mixed drinks. like Lochness, a mix of cold brew, salted caramel, cream and ice cream.

“The vibe,” said Shelley Johnson, who sat on a couch in the dimly lit and sparsely furnished space. “It’s so cool and welcoming here.”

It was all that, but there was also the meeting with an owner in 2018, according to Johanna.

“We were looking for locations for our first cafe in Middletown,” she said.

“He took one look at these two tattooed people, Joe with his ear tunnels and me with my blue hair and we could see him backing away,” she said. “But then we started talking and he saw that we knew what we were doing.”

At the time, her husband, Joe Perazella, was a commercial salesperson at AutoZone. Johanna was a medical receptionist at Middlesex Hospital.

“None of us were really happy where we were,” Joe, 34, said as a jazz-influenced Christmas carol filtered through the space.

The previous year, they had toured coffee roasters in San Diego. At this time, Joe was getting into craft coffee and experimenting with roasting and brewing techniques.

San Diego opened their eyes. “We’ve seen how having a warm, welcoming atmosphere with coffee naturally brings people together,” Johanna said.

They stayed at their job. Joe continued to train on how to roast a particular region of coffee to bring out the natural flavors, on distinguishing between the fruity tea notes in Ethiopian beans and the chocolatey hazelnuts in Guatemalan beans.

It was 2017. At the beginning of 2018, Johanna sensed a change in Joe.

“He had been acting weird for a few days and we were sitting on the couch and I finally said ‘what’s going on? and he cleared his throat and told me he just ordered a roaster,” she said.

The cost of the roaster was over $10,000. “It was a huge amount of money for us,” she said, as the sweet aroma of caramel macchiato wafted through space. “But I was all in.”

Their plan was to roast from their Middletown garage and sell online. Then Joe said, “I started walking the avenues with the health department and planning and zoning. There was so much to do to outfit our garage that we started thinking we might as well find a spot and go.

They opened in Middletown in October 2018. “The vision was to create a space where we would be comfortable hanging out,” Johanna says. Perkatory comes from their shared love of Halloween and puns. (Their coffee will “lift you out of the grave,” their website reads. “We take coffee very seriously.”)

“We both grew up skateboarding, listening to punk rock and hanging out in coffee shops,” Johanna said. “All of these communities are very inclusive, and that’s how we envisioned our business.”

There were growing pains. “I worked open to close at the cafe seven days a week with three employees,” Johanna said. Joe was still at AutoZone. “Six months later, I could see she was exhausted,” he said.

In May 2019 they received a message from the town of Southington asking if they would consider another Perkatory there. “That’s when we knew we were okay,” Johanna said.

At the time of this opening, COVID hit. “We got all of our employees together on a Zoom call and asked who felt comfortable working, and then we went to takeout, and set up an online ordering system, and brought in our customers right outside,” Johanna said.

“There were some scary weeks where we weren’t sure we could stay open based on sales, but it worked out,” she said. “A lot of people said they were grateful to us because it gave them some normalcy.”

“It actually made us stronger,” Joe said. Apparently yes. Over the summer, the two decided to expand to another location. “West Hartford and Branford showed up to us at the same time,” Johanna said. Again, they agreed to go.

Both recognized that their employees were the main reason for their success.

“They trust us and we trust them,” she said. “I’m in each cafe half a day a week while our son is in daycare. They feel comfortable communicating with us what their needs are, and then we make sure that happens. »

Just then, Ari Munzer, stylist at Mur Salon, appears at the counter. Like Johanna, she had fluorescent-colored hair and animated tattoos on her arms.

“It’s an alternative place for people who look like me,” she said. “Plus, their coffee is out of this world.”

Perkatory Coffee Roasters, 4 Brushy Plain Road #515, Branford. 203-208-0600. Website:

Diana J. Carleton