Tag Archive: Craft Coffee

  1. Foxtail Coffee Co.: Stirring Up a Buzz

    Few things stir my soul more than my first cup of coffee in the morning. It’s a full-sensory experience– aromatic grounds and cool cream, the sound of grinding beans, the almost-too-hot first sip and artistic aesthetics of a cup that’s poured just right.

    I could go on, but I’m getting thirsty and my leg has begun twitching. My point is, coffee is a close friend and point of passion for not only myself but millions across the country and countless others around the world.

    Though Starbucks has long stood as the homogenized, ever-present coffee shop standard in much of America, there is a growing movement in neighborhoods to eschew the coffee-brewing behemoth for something more community-based. I’m proud to say that Central Florida is no slouch for those looking to get caffeine wasted, and Foxtail Coffee Co. now plays a big part in that.

    Sly as a Fox

    Something that immediately struck me about Foxtail Coffee is just how social media savvy they were and are. Months before the place was even furnished, I’d heard rumblings about the “new coffee place”. Following their Facebook page, I was treated to frequent updates on their storefront setup, as well as notices on their pop-up shops hosted at many of Orlando’s favorite bars, pubs and farmers’ markets.

    The legend of this place was already growing, but I was still holding judgment until after I actually drank the stuff. Pretty pictures and active social media, after all, do not make up for cruddy coffee, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by their effective use of social.

    SPOILER ALERT: On first visit, I drank a cold brew. The sun came out. Birds chirped. My soul returned to my body. Call me a fan.

    What Does the Fox Say?

    As I mentioned, Central Florida–and Winter Park, especially–has no shortage of craft coffee spots to enjoy on business or pleasure. Austin’s Coffee, Lineage Coffee Roasting, and Vespr Coffeebar are just a handful of the local fan favorites. How does Foxtail Coffee stand out from competent competition and make a case for its place in the craft coffee scene?

    I sat down with Michael Severn, general manager of Foxtail Coffee Co., to talk about the new shop over a cup of the good stuff.

    So, Mike, what exactly do you do at Foxtail Coffee?

    My primary role is store manager. I ensure that everything the founders, Alex and Iain, want done, gets done! I also hop on the coffee bar when I’m all caught up on objective #1.

    Where did your passion for coffee come from?

    My passion for coffee grew over time. At first, it was something I just casually drank. Then I began learning and practicing the craft aspects of coffee and eventually I grew fully into the realm where I could appreciate not only what coffee did for me physically, but how it brings people and communities together. It’s the kind of job I’ve always wanted.

    What’s the story behind Foxtail Coffee?

    The short version of it is something that I think people will really relate to. It all started with two longtime friends, Alex and Iain, who really wanted to build something cool together. Luckily for all of us that something was Foxtail!

    What’s your favorite item on the menu?

    That varies depending on my mood. My everyday pickup is the Foxtail Original cold brew, but if I’m feeling sweet, I find it hard to resist a cafe con leche. Picking a favorite is so hard to do; there’s a mood for every coffee for me.

    Why do you think Winter Park and Orlando have turned into such craft coffee towns?

    I think it was an inevitability. There’s been a cry for quality over quantity in Orlando growing for years, and it was peculiar to me that it took so long for coffee. It’s something that’s been peeking through at points in the city, but sometimes getting people to see coffee, and more specifically cafes, as more than just a spot for a quick cup was lost to us, not only as Floridians but as Americans as a whole. We just want to bring it back to being about people and not just a commodity.

    What do you think sets Foxtail Coffee apart from others?

    One of the biggest things that sets us apart is our desire to never be apart from the people we serve. We take great care in all aspects of our cafe and a cafe is more than just the coffee. A cafe is the building, the roaster, the espresso machine, the barista, the consumer, and so on and so on. None of them can be neglected, and I think a lot of people are tired of going to a space to just be neglected. We believe in taking the extra time not only to prepare an excellent beverage, but to also have excellent interactions with the people who come in to see us and join us in our space.

    What’s your favorite city to grab a cup of Joe?

    It sounds cliche of me to say Seattle as a coffee drinker, right? Well let me tell you about Seattle! Part of Olivia’s (my wife) family lives out in Seattle, so we go out there almost every year. We treat a couple of days as our tour de force of the city’s food and drink scene, and in Seattle, that means a whole lot of coffee. I was personally blown away at Stumptown a couple years ago. I literally walked into their roasting area and had a conversation with one of their roasters for a half hour about coffee and the details of his roast process. Not only was I impressed by his knowledge, but I was impressed with how so much of what they were doing at the time was geared towards the areas that Stumptown was in. For them, each space was it’s own, but they were all there to serve their communities (at the time they had a roaster in Seattle, Portland, and NYC).

    What’s your preferred brewing style? Why?

    When I’m at home, I default to pour over more often than not. It’s a great method for cupping a variety of coffees and dissecting more subtlety and complexity depending on the varietal of the coffee. I really enjoy slightly more manual methods of brewing, especially ones that can be better or worse based on human error.

    What do you see for the future of Foxtail Coffee?

    The future of Foxtail Coffee is a bright one, and one that I can’t wait to see play out. Currently, we’re not sure what we want to do next. Well not completely, we have plenty of ideas brewing.  Some we’ll be announcing shortly, but I love surprises and I’d hate to spoil any early.

    What’s your favorite thing about setting up shop in Central Florida?

    How unexpected I think it was. I mean, December 1 hit and it was like we just lowered our shoulders and burst out! We knew that it would be busy–our founding team did a great job at cultivating a lot of anticipation for the brick and mortar opening–but even we weren’t completely ready for how well received it was. It meant a lot of long days for a lot of us, but that’s where passion took over and the team rallied.

    Most importantly, how do you take your coffee?

    My only personal mantra about coffee is this: Death before decaf.

    Flavor by the Fox-ful

    Let’s get down to brass tax here. Is it any good?

    Yes, very.

    End of blog post? No, of course there’s more to it.

    Places to Park It

    Though parking can be a bit scarce in the lot behind the Foxtail Coffee building during its busiest hours, there are plenty of street parking options available in the area.

    When it comes to seating, quarters can also get a little tight during rushes. Luckily, there’s ample room on the dog-friendly, bench-covered patio/courtyard area that Foxtail Coffee shares with its neighbors.

    Did we mention that Foxtail is dog-friendly?

    Location & Looks

    Sitting right on Orange Ave., Foxtail Coffee is conveniently close to many popular Central Florida ‘hoods, including Baldwin Park, Mills 50 and Downtown Orlando. As for the shop itself, it is a collection of dark woods and exposed metals, making it a rare balance between industrial and cozy. Covered in coffee contraptions and the aroma of the on-site roaster, it’s something of a mix between a mad scientist’s lab and cabin.

    The Menu

    The selection is what you might expect from a quality coffee shop, featuring the likes of cold brew (both bottled and on-tap), cappuccinos, lattes, and a selection of espresso drinks, as well as fresh-brewed coffee that can be French pressed, poured over or siphoned based on your preference.

    The Goods

    Want to take a little Foxtail home with you? Mugs, house-roasted coffee beans, and other accessories can be yours, all with the style that’s apparent in everything bearing the Foxtail Coffee Co. name.

    The Final Sip

    Beyond all else, I’d say the one word I walk away from Foxtail Coffee with is “quality”. It’s present in the ambiance of their café, the richness of their coffee and the attention they pay to their growing and loyal fanbase. Though their social media surely spread the word initially, it is friends, coworkers and family who are responsible for Foxtail’s growing success. I know that’s what got me to finally give Foxtail a visit–a friend who has to visit every time he’s in town and the coworker who gushed about her experience there.

    Now, I am the preacher. I posted a picture of my first cold brew on Instagram only to find that the Foxtail Coffee Instagram page picked it up to use on their own social media channels (giving credit to the photographer, of course). It was the perfect layer of foam to top the latte of love I’ve developed for the place.

    As far as recommendations for your next business meeting or remote work day, I’d definitely scope the café before or after morning and afternoon rushes to secure a table before cementing plans. Yes, my biggest gripe is that they’re too successful; not bad for a new business. 

    Mike impressed something on me during our interview that embodies Foxtail’s entire approach to business: coffee is community, not commodity. Even as we sat on the benches just outside the shop on that overcast Monday morning, we were stopped by multiple regulars who simply wanted to say hello and catch up with him. It felt like I was interviewing a beloved mayor or the varsity quarterback. It became instantly apparent that he and the staff of Foxtail have become much more than coffee pourers to this little nook of Central Florida professionals, students and residents.

    Foxtail Coffee Co. stands as consecrated, common ground not just for quality coffee, but for a diverse community yearning for a new space to share thoughts, ideas and a genuine human connection. Coffee is community.

  2. Bohn Appetit: East End Market Mixes It Up In Audubon Park

    East End Market

    The secret’s out; Audubon Park Garden District is officially one of three neighborhoods named a 2016 Great American Main Street. Not too shabby for an area formerly more known for its sprawl of indistinct strip malls and a big ol’ four-lane roadway. Now, places like Park Ave CDs, Stardust Video and Coffee, Blue Bird Bake Shop, Sushi Lola’s and the Bohn-Appetit-featured Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour have made Audubon Park an essential hangout spot that can easily go from quick stop to full-day adventure. But wait, there’s more!

    Enter: East End Market, a place that has become synonymous with the success of Audubon Park Garden District. Unlike our previous picks for Bohn Appetit, East End Market is a bit harder to categorize — which is part of what makes the place so unique. It’s not just a restaurant, coffee shop, beer bar, farmer’s market or place that allows you to eat the weight of a small child in artisanal cheese — it is all of these at once, wrapped up in a bow and ready for your perusal and plundering.

    Can East End Market measure up in the context of business lunches, dinner meetings, or off-the-clock hangout sessions with colleagues? Let’s see what Bohn has to say.

    Bohn’s Breakdown

    East End Market

    Bohn in his happy place.

    For me, East End Market is one of Orlando’s hidden gems that is significant to the spirit of the city. You could technically call it a startup incubator but there’s something a bit more organic (no pun intended) about the way they do things that I can’t quite find the words to describe.

    My first adventure to East End Market started with Lineage Coffee and the need to fulfill my goal of visiting every coffee shop in Orlando. There, you’ll find something a little different than just a menu of over-flavored lattes. Instead, they offer a unique selection of roasted coffee beans. If you’re a black coffee type of person, my suggestion is to grab a pot of Chemex-brewed coffee to share with a buddy at one of the nearby tables. If you’re not feeling the Florida heat and are looking to keep it cool, pick up a bottled cold brew to take to your next stop in the market.

    East End Market

    Konbini: Something like a Japanese 7-11, only better.

    While you’re standing in line at Lineage, you’re sure to notice the brightly lit Konbini, a Japanese convenience store that plays very well into something you’d see on a Japanese street corner. If you missed your chance to try out Kappo (the restaurant that formerly resided in this spot), be glad to know you’ll still be able to try out an assortment of freshly made rice bowls and onigiri. Konbini offers just about all of the main staples you’d expect to find in a Japanese convenience store: quick snacks, candy, drinks (such as their bottled matcha latte), ramen, and some accessories. They also step it up by offering some harder-to-find Japanese goods, such as tea accessories, matcha Kit-Kats (yes!) and sake.

    One little detail that I love about Konbini is the tray at the register. In Japan, you typically don’t hand them your card or money; transactions are made by placing them onto the tray to avoid any touching of hands. For me, this small detail really adds to the overall feel of the place, which works alongside touches like lighting and layout to make for a cool experience.

    East End Market

    Cheese plate via La Femme Du Fromage.

    One of my new favorite spots at East End is La Femme Du Fromage, where Adam (writer), our friend David, and I ordered their three-cheese cheese board with a side of prosciutto. Not knowing anything about cheese, we asked our friendly cheese expert to simply give us a diverse selection of their own choosing. To make things legit, we also opted for their sangria to pair with the cheeses — pinkies out, for sure. Once we got our board, we were blown away by the incredibly diverse flavors that hit us square in the taste buds. To put it simply, I almost walked out of there with an entire block of truffle-injected cheese. Besides cheese, they also offer a list of small plates and wine pairings, which I am confident to say are probably all just as amazing.

    La Femme Du Fromage is the work of Chef Tonda, who is not only a well-acclaimed chef, but also shares her love of cheese and wine through seminars and classes conducted across the country. Her recipes, combined with the private look and feel of the dining area, would make an optimal experience for clients visiting Orlando looking to talk business. You have the option to keep it light while still indulging in some of their delightful, delicious offerings.

    East End Market

    If cheese and wine aren’t your thing, what appears to be a bar at the front of the market is actually a storefront for a local farm-to-restaurant distribution company. Need to pick up some cage-free eggs and grab a flight of some local beer selections? You’ve found the spot! Local Roots distributes to over a dozen of our favorite Orlando restaurants, which makes them my favorite spot in East End Market. The seating is ample and, aside from their nice selection of local brews, their menu is serviced by the neighboring Houndstooth Sauce Company which makes Local Roots a great, healthier lunch spot. If the weather permits, I would also take the food outside to enjoy some of the great weather Orlando likes to bless us with from time to time.

    While each of the vendors at East End Market sport features that are sure to blow you away, I really don’t believe you should visit just one place here. All of the businesses have connected with one another, which really boosts the overall experience. It’s like they’ve formed a giant foodie Voltron that’s here to defend against Orlando’s tourist trap image and show how small ideas can turn into big wins for the city. In a place that tourists and students have chosen to make their temporary home, East End Market establishes a great sense of homegrown, local community. Community! That’s the word I was looking for.

    Pro Tips

    East End Market

    • If you’re coming with a larger party, arrive early. Sometimes seating can be limited during prime time lunch/early afternoon hours.
    • Don’t let the convenience store vibe fool you, the food at Konbini is quality and makes a great, fast, healthier lunch stop. They also have a microwave for their items that need to be heated up.
    • There is additional parking across the street on the road that runs alongside East End Market.
    • Even if the concept of the place doesn’t sound interesting to you, try it. What’s more to know about bread, right? WRONG! Ask the bread experts at Olde Hearth Bread Co. to suggest something for you and I’m positive you’ll be coming back for more.
    • Lineage’s cold brew bottles can be returned for a discount on your next purchase. Grab a 4 pack for the office or early meeting. It’ll feel (and look) like you’re drinking beers at work, which is always a fun social experiment.
    • Look out for small pop-up shops on the weekends. When we went, there was a barbeque spot up front that looked (and smelled) amazing. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try it since they closed up around 3pm, so make sure you get it while they are there.
    • Treat your trip to East End Market more like you would a food truck event. Don’t plan on going to just one spot.

    The Verdict

    East End Market

    East End Market is a brilliant concept and one that collects together local entrepreneurs who continually bring new ideas, flavors and inspiration to the table.

    East End Market

    I think much of the magic at East End is due to the passion these owner-operated small businesses bring to their customers each day.  The same can be said of the whole Audubon Park Garden District.  Local needs are diverse and when businesses listen to their customers and serve these unique taste and yearning of their neighborhood customer base you end up with a main street and market full of authentically Orlando offerings.” – John Rife, Owner of East End Market

    With scenic outdoor seating among the garden of herbs, fruits and vegetables, exotic and local flavors that will make your Tupperware-protected lunch weep and craft coffee to keep your meetings from being a snooze, East End Market could be the end-all and be-all for your next business lunch meetup. Though the early closing time (on weekdays in particular) can be a detriment to those trying to grab dinner or drinks after work, mornings, afternoons and weekends are all fair game for this collective of awesome.