Amelia Island Coffee

With a welcoming ambience and skilled baristas, Amelia Island Coffee serves cool drinks, like cold brews, iced chai, and smoothies, plus beignets and all your breakfast favorites.

Step aside, Cinnamon Rolls. Beignets are the favorite now, and they are fresh here in downtown Fernandina! Skip the boxed mix from Café du Monde, where American beignets started in New Orleans’s French Quarter. Ray Carter’s team has real French beignets ready now, every day from 7 am to 5 pm. Pronounced /bin-yay/, they are served three on a plate, plain or with a filling of chocolate hazelnut or berry.

The coffee shop is cooler than it has ever been, I think. My husband and I sat down with Ray at the big back table and surprise—the whole back wall is a mural now! FBHS artist Raven Moonshadow created a detailed ocean scene that even has a sea turtle. Also, on the walls are works by the Blue Door Artists next door.

Cool drinks are good to go, with Aura Bora sparkling waters in fruity, herbal flavors. A variety of flavors abound. Fizzy waters is my drink of choice at home, so grabbing one while out on Centre Street sounds perfect to me. Because Ray wants to keep Fernandina hydrated, a plain cup of water is there for parched passersby. His version of this practice, which he picked up visiting his daughter in London, has been quite successful, he reports.

In other cool drinks news, it is fact that younger people are drinking iced coffees … only. But lately, all ages are ordering cold drinks, he says—cold brews, iced chai, smoothies, root beer floats, and frozen strawberry lemonade. He is quite proud of his skilled baristas, especially Brennan, the drink-designer: try Beach Babe with hints of coconut or the Winnie-the-Pooh with honey, of course. The white mocha did not overtake the matcha in my Lily Pad, featuring matcha from The Spice & Tea Exchange across the street. A current house favorite is Sweet Cream Cold-Foam Cold Brew with Salted Caramel, with caramel legs breaking through the cream to flavor the bottom.

Get there before 1 p.m. for fresh breakfast choices. Choose from a variety of avocado toasts, bagels, Belgian waffles, or traditional egg dishes. Ray sources the best brown, cage-free eggs he can buy, and their taste is truly special. Delectable sweets include far more than the ever-popular Cinnamon Buns and Beignets: Sopapilla Cheesecake reminds me of a dry Tres Leches Cake. The Apricot Bar is crunchy and not too sweet.

Customers at Amelia Island Coffee let the baristas know what they love most, and Ray responds. He enjoys making people happy, so he wants to say yes. Dogs? Yes. Pumpkin bread year-round? Yes. Free cup of water? Yes. Forming bonds with other merchants is his greatest joy, and he recites a long list of locals who are regulars. So fortunate does he feel now that he is having ice cream socials for the old folks’ home and for the local Boys & Girls Club.

Just another Georgia person who visited Fernandina as a child like me, Waycross-native Ray says he wakes up and reminds himself that he does not have to leave. He gets to live here now! You can hear this cool sentiment echoing around Fernandina, especially on Centre Street, if you listen for it. Amelia Island Coffee is located at 207 Centre Street.