By Elizabeth Wainer, Senior Student at Ponte Vedra High School
“Hey, we should catch up this weekend! Do you want to grab a coffee at 10?”
This is an all too familiar scenario, and it seems like a great idea: catching up with a friend while enjoying a nice cup of joe. Except for one thing- you don’t like coffee. You don’t want to turn your friend down, but you also don’t want to spend $6 for an overpriced hot cup of bean water. So you agree to meet up at their favorite spot, and then quickly look up the menu to find something, anything that you can enjoy without the overwhelming taste of coffee. Here is a curated list of five drinks made without the overpowering coffee taste from local coffee shops that are sophisticated enough to enjoy with the friend who loves their java.
Southern Grounds – Chai Latte
This may be the best chai latte… ever. A delicate blend of spices, whole milk and black tea topped with a dash of nutmeg creates a well-rounded chai latte that outpaces the competitors. One taste and never again could I go back to the mediocrity of other chai lattes. Every time I am in the vicinity of a Southern Grounds, my car inexplicably finds its way to the SoGro parking lot so I can taste another sip of this delightful drink. Southern Grounds also has an amazing food selection, and all of their baked goods originate from the Blueberry Bakery at their San Marco location. Southern Grounds has three locations: Neptune Beach, San Marco, and Avondale- and new locations coming soon to the Jax airport and Brooklyn area. All three locations offer outdoor seating, and the Neptune Beach location is a mere block from the beach.
Kookaburra – Honey Badge
This is a unique combination from the Australian-American espresso bar. While this does have coffee in it, the additions of honey, vanilla, and cinnamon transform a latte into a fun, non-coffee-tasting drink. This is a fantastic option if you want to dip your feet into the ocean of coffee. This drink comes hot or iced and is the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold day or cool you off in the Florida heat. The Kookaburra has five locations around the first coast: four in St. Augustine and a newly opened Nocatee location.
Round Bird – Energy Spritzer
The energy spritzers at Round Bird are by far one of their more popular menu items, and it is not difficult to see why. The carbonated drink, which comes in a myriad of flavors, is the perfect drink for that caffeine jolt without the unpleasant coffee taste. The drink is composed of a caffeinated energy shot in either a fruit flavor or lavender, mixed with soda water and fruity flavors. The taste is refreshing and energizing, especially for those hot summer days ahead. Round Bird is located in north Jax Beach and has indoor and outdoor seating available.
Sago – Iced Dirty Chai
This is the perfect drink for an introduction to coffee. The iced dirty chai is one of Sago’s specialties, and it’s easy to see why people flock to the beach coffee spot. The chai shines through with its pronounced spice, and the espresso shot provides that jolt of energy to make it through the day. The drink is perfectly balanced and doesn’t taste overly milky, which is the downfall of many chai lattes. Sago itself has an incredibly calm atmosphere, with lots of comfy indoor and outdoor seating available, making it the perfect place to catch up with a friend or get some work done. Sago is located in central Jax Beach.
Cup of Job – Lucky Latte
I will admit- this is another coffee-based drink. However, this drink is bursting with an abundance of flavor, and the coffee taste is crowded out by the flavor of mint. The seemingly odd combination works well and tastes very sweet. This drink is only available in March, and sadly, is not green. Cup of Job is run by volunteers to support the City Rescue Mission, and the shop is right next to the beach, so you could take your drink down to the water. Cup of Job is located in central Jax Beach.