When Sherry Carter and I met at Amelia Island Coffee to talk with owner Ray Carter and taste the wares, little did we know we would discover that we were distant cousins! Amelia Island Coffee is the kind of place where many people have connected and found community through the years. How the three of us enjoyed reminiscing about and sharing our own memories of the coffee shop and downtown Fernandina!
Like many of us who live here now, Ray, originally from Waycross, Georgia, vacationed here all his life. He and his wife, Paige, take seriously their responsibility to care for the food, people, and ambience that have made AIC such a beloved community gathering place. While it has been this coffee shop since 1995, during the previous 130 years, this space was a pharmacy and soda fountain. You can feel the continuity!
As they settle in, Ray and Paige are making the shop their own. Their new logo image is circular, with water and sunrise framing a golden coffee bean, portraying the elements of the shop coming together into circles of community and life. Look for the new menu to be rolling out very soon. And the new tagline is The Local Grind, emphasizing that many of their ingredients and foods are sourced locally.
Amelia Island Coffee is a coffee shop first, and Ray is proud of his beans, fresh-roasted in Yulee, which are specifically high-mountain, cold-climate, hand-picked 100% arabica beans. He has flavors for a wide array of specialty drinks, too. Two of those flavors are syrups made in-house, vanilla and lavender, with the lavender sourced from the lavender shop across the street. And how the lavender popped in the Honey Lavender Oat Milk Latte! Everything about the Vanilla Sweet Cream Full-Foam Cold Brew made it one of my favorites. The Iced Chai Latte, rich with spices, was another favorite.
The baristas are professionals, who years ago sought out this particular coffee shop to use their serious skills. Customers need not know exactly what they want, for part of the barista magic is listening in order to figure out what will work. It’s their job.
Those who come for the house-made breakfast are in luck. House-made savory items include Southwest Omelet Wrap with salsa or bacon, egg, and cheese on a very fluffy biscuit. Paige has been planning innovations, so look for a new menu of avocado toasts soon. An island baker produces AIC’s confections. We had a Sopapilla Cheesecake Bar that was a fine balance of each. On the wall are original artworks from Blue Door Artists, the art studio next door. Lavender, coffee beans, sweets, art—what more could you ask for?
“All are welcome, and we will make them feel welcome,” says Ray. He’s gotten to know his regulars since he took over late last year, and he knows when to expect them. One group of retirees has been meeting every morning for years. Church ladies convene periodically. Students come after school and do homework. And tourists from all over the world. For a wide variety of people, this is their coffee shop – some for life, others as part of their vacation, just like Ray when he was young. Amelia Island Coffee is located at 207 Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach.