An Espresso Love story

A crowd favorite: bagel with cream-cheese, avocado and tomato. — Marnely Murray

“And she was made in heaven /Heaven’s in the world /Is this just espresso love /You know I’m crazy for the girl”  —Dire Straits, “Espresso Love” 

Every town needs a good coffee shop. When you live in Edgartown, you have many choices, but Espresso Love has been serving up coffee for almost 25 years. Founder Carol McManus was inspired to start the coffee shop after visiting her daughter in California and touring the Palo Alto Coffee Co. 

Espresso Love founder Carol McManus. — Marnely Murray
Espresso Love founder Carol McManus. — Marnely Murray

One cold winter morning, a serendipitous ad grabbed her attention: A rental space had opened up on South Water Street. As soon as she walked into the space, she envisioned herself serving up coffee and baked goods there. 

The thing is, Carol had no money, but she had a lot of common sense and an entrepreneurial spirit. That turned out to be enough. She headed to a local silkscreening company, with a logo and a name inspired by a Dire Straits song, and had her first sign made. 

You can still see the original sign hung up inside the coffee shop in Edgartown, a tribute to years of hard work. The shop came together in bits and pieces: used restaurant equipment sourced from Boston, an espresso machine from an old shop in Vineyard Haven, and many sleepless nights. 

Carol’s children, T.J., Paula, Maureen, Michael, and Debbie, have all been involved in the business throughout the years, whether baking, helping manage the business, or traveling for inspiration. 

When they first opened up, coffee and baked goods were the only offerings. Carol was a self-taught baker, so her creations graced the counters of Espresso Love in the beginning. Bagels from Cape Cod Bagels came a while after. The coffee started as Green Mountain Coffee, and has changed only three times in the last quarter-century, always focusing on good coffee from smaller roasters.

When Espresso Love first opened, baked goods were the only offerings. — Marnely Murray
When Espresso Love first opened, baked goods were the only offerings. — Marnely Murray

Once they started offering sandwiches, the menu was inspired by the customers themselves. Mike’s Breakfast (Mike was a customer from Telluride) is a popular bagel sandwich, one of my personal favorites. 

Espresso Love’s biggest claim to fame, in Carol’s opinion, was the Clinton visit in 1993. That summer Carol decided to create a muffin inspired by the then president. She even called the White House to tell them about it. Her creation was a cream cheese muffin studded with strawberries and blueberries, also known as the Presidential Muffin. Every day that summer, they would bake a batch and place one under a special dome, labeled “Saved for Bill.” That summer, Bill didn’t visit, but a New York Times reporter did, and he was incredibly interested in the specialty muffin created solely for the president. The next summer, Secret Service members became customers, and Espresso Love started serving up baked goods for presidential meetings during the First Family’s summer vacations. Early one morning, T.J. McManus drove up and saw Secret Service crowding the entrance, telling him to not call anyone, but the First Family was visiting the coffee shop. As any good son would do, he ignored all instructions from the Secret Service and called his mother Carol, who rushed to the shop. The event put Espresso Love on the map. 

Today, Espresso Love is still a family-run business. They moved to Church Street in 2000, and opened a second location on Broad Street in Boston. Over the years, they’ve graciously adapted to food trends and lifestyles, now offering gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options along with the regular baked goods. Carol attributes all her success to hard work, but I might add: A great recipe for blueberry muffins always helps.

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This article by Marnely Murray originally appeared on