Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Coffee - my not so humble opinion

Club rides are great. I love destinations like cemeteries and gas stations or sometimes a nice tree to pee behind and a bottle of Gatorade. Well maybe it's not that bad but compared to a decent cup of coffee and a comfortable chair it's first runner up.

So here is my non comprehensive list of places I enjoy stopping for coffee which does not include gas stations or franchises like Starbucks, Panera Bread or Dunkin.

The Garden at B D Beans
Best Coffee House - B D Beans in Belleview. Sandwiched between a gas station and KFC this would be on my list of places least likely to survive providing it hadn't been there for nearly 25 years. An independent coffee shop in an old house where the coffee is good, the service is excellent, and you can sit outside in the garden at a table which even has a table cloth. But not just coffee, plenty of pastries and breakfast too.

Nephew Jacques in a comfortable chair at Sawgrass Grove
Most Comfortable Coffee - Golden Hills Coffee Roasters at Sawgrass Grove on Meggison Road. A decent latte and a really comfortable chair outside that I wouldn't be allowed to sit on at home in my cycling gear!

Best club ride coffee - The Standard Coffee Lounge in Brownwood has good coffee and a huge patio area with tables and chairs ideal for larger groups where not everyone is buying. Great for an end of ride social.
On a Sunnyside ride try Leesburg Library Coffee shop. It's Starbucks based and serves decent coffee. The best part is the Durand Garden across Main Street where there are tables and chairs and fountains to deaden traffic noise for a zen moment. Simply a pleasant relaxing spot.

Lunch at Coffee n' Cream - had a beer this time!
Micanopy - If you tour out of town from time to time then I'd recommend Coffee n' Cream in Micanopy for coffee and a light lunch. Pretty basic until you chat to the owner who was born and raised there and told me her parents never let her go "downtown" on the weekends because of the fights in the local saloon! An interesting town to visit, it's where they made the movie Doc Hollywood.

Latte art at Axum in Winter Garden
Winter Garden - convenient for riding in the Clermont Hills - has the second best coffee in Florida at the Axum Coffee Shop and the best latte art I've seen. Ask for a ceramic cup to see the latte art - they'll try to serve you coffee in a disposable cup when they're busy but tell them you rode 50 miles for their coffee and you'll get a real cup. Personally I try to avoid drinking good coffee out of a cardboard cup - yes I'm a coffee snob.

Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg makes the best coffee I know of. I've bought their beans and made it at home but it's just not the same. Perhaps it's their coffee bar next to the pastry counter. The pâtissier told me they had 60 different pastries on the counter but he can make about 150, so you have to go back - a few times. Unfortunately it's not a good place to go on a bike as there is no secure place for it - and you'd need to leave it because what started as a small corner store has now expanded into an Italian theme park - perhaps I exaggerate.

Coffee at Home - I have a Breville Barista Espresso machine. I buy my roasted espresso beans wholesale from the Caracolillo Coffee Mill in Tampa. Fresh roasted delivered overnight and still much cheaper than anything decent you can buy locally. If you're in their area stop by and smell the beans roasting - aaaah! This family business founded by Anastasio Fernandez, a Spanish immigrant, has been roasting beans since 1936. Ask for a quick tour and you'll be shown their grandfathers original roasting machines still being used. And the aroma of freshly roasting coffee beans is to live for.

Please note, I have not received a board appointment or shares in any of these businesses nor even a free coffee as compensation for their mention in this article. It's just my not so humble opinion.

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