In Search of Great Coffee

With its bounty of fun things to do and see, Amelia Island also offers delicious coffee, so we went on a little tour from the south end to downtown to find some favorites.

Even casual coffee-drinkers treasure that first sip of coffee, when its full and wonderful flavors blossom on the palate. I’m the casual kind, drinking mostly for effect and accompaniments, while my daughter, Sophia, enjoys her coffee tastes and moments. To examine what coffee options are available here on Amelia Island, we took a tour of five stops for coffee on Amelia, moving from the south end to mid-island to downtown.

First Drop, just inside the entrance of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, welcomes visitors who are not registered guests. Each First Drop serves a branded, custom blend of coffee featuring stronger, bolder flavor made from the finest beans sustainably farmed in three countries. With enticing breakfast, lunch, and gelato options, we chose favorites Iced Caramel Macchiato and Maca Morning smoothie with glorious pastries. Healthy to decadent, children to grownups, First Drop serves treats for everyone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. You can enjoy your coffee anywhere in the hotel, except the pool.

At Amelia Fresh Café, located inside Nassau Health Foods, barista Jasmine shared bean origin, roaster, label, brand, flavor, and preparation ideas for all the coffee offerings. Her regular customers each have a very specific go-to coffee, but she likes to work with drinkers like me who don’t know what they like. Jasmine shared her expertise, offering that a nitro infusion makes coffee smooth and mellows bitterness, cold brew is easier to digest, and dark roast has less caffeine than medium or light roast. All baristas have syrup recipes on their phones! The coffee bar is open every day but Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Story & Song Bookstore Bistro is located at 1430 Park Avenue at Amelia Park. Their Bookstore Blend is their custom blend, locally roasted at NUANZ in Yulee. Enjoy it any way you like it. Sitting inside the bookshop and cultural center is a treat, and you can imagine measuring out your life in coffee spoons like J. Alfred Prufrock, drinking 40 to 50 mochas a day like Voltaire, or downing a gallon of coffee daily like President Teddy Roosevelt did. Or maybe you dream of developing your own coffee line as Margaret Atwood has. The bistro is open daily 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Amelia Island Coffee on Centre Street is about a block from the Amelia River. Coffee is central, but fun breakfast, lunch, gelato, and pastry foods abound. Our favorites: Honey Lavender Nitro Cold Brew containing lavender from the local lavender shop and locally-sourced Florida honey, and Beach Babe, a cold brew with house-made coconut syrup, salt, and coconut milk. The vibe is laid-back and very popular with locals. Sit out front or in the pocket park next door. The coffee shop is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Wicked Bao is a very popular Asian comfort food restaurant on North 2nd Street, so the Vietnamese coffee is a bonus. “The Energy Coffee That Changes Life” is Trung Nguyen that requires a special drip process of its own. Open at 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, Wicked Bao has Trung Nguyen and so much more.

If you enjoy good coffee, you’re sure to find a favorite here on Amelia Island!