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Finding a cafe with small-town flavor has become increasingly difficult with megagrinders like Starbucks nudging out the competition.

Partners Noel Hennessy, Sean McNanney and Jeremy McMillon, fellow Spokane, Wash., natives, are determined to put an end to that - at least in their Williamsburg neighborhood.

In September, the trio opened St. Helen Cafe (named for Washington State’s Mount St. Helens) where coffee, they say, is "made the right way."

"Coffee should be appreciated the way dessert or a glass of wine is enjoyed," says Hennessy.

To ensure that what they offer "is something worth $3 a cup," they take great care with brewing coffee and steaming milk until it reaches the texture of "velvet."

Veronica Schwartz’s desserts make a worthy partner to the house specialty. She bakes croissants for her chocolate croissant bread pudding, and uses freshly ground almond flour in her banana quince cake.

For weekend brunch, Billyburg residents can laze over a cup of hot cocoa made with Belgian chocolate and a dish of baked eggs with fresh rosemary and goat cheese.

In a couple of months the partners’ next venture, The Saved Gallery, a collection of old and new furniture, and arts and crafts, will open in a storefront nearby. Coffee "that just tastes right" will be served to shoppers.

St. Helen Cafe (150 Wythe Ave. between North Seventh and North Eighth streets in Williamsburg) accepts cash only. Coffee: $2-$4; sandwiches: $6-9; desserts $5-$6. The cafe is open 8:30 am ­10 pm, Monday through Friday, and 10 am-10 pm, Saturday and Sunday. For further information, call (718) 302-1197.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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