Perks of the Forgotten Coast: 3 Local Independent Coffee Roasters
By Forgotten Coast Web Team | April 15, 2021
Vacationing on the Forgotten Coast is choosing slow-paced family time, natural beauty, bountiful waters over box stores, high rise hotels, and, dare I say, Starbucks. You are stepping back in time to an old-Florida lifestyle that can be hard to come by these days.
But, one still needs coffee.
Lucky for you, the Forgotten Coast has three local roasters ready to feed your caffeine addiction. Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company in Apalachicola on Market Street, Bayside Coffee Company on the main thoroughfare (Hwy 98) in Eastpoint, or Zen Coffee sold from area Farmers Markets have the fix you need.
Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company
Aside from the Apalachicola Bay view, downtown Apalachicola looks like many old southern towns with brick buildings repurposed for shops and restaurants. The Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company resides in a building over a hundred years old in the center of town. The building was thought to be the first drug store in Florida and was Buzzett’s Pharmacy until the 1980s.
Kirk and Faith Lynch, owners of the Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company, combine the centuries-old building’s rustic charm with a hippy vibe. With Jam Band music and deep coffee aromas wafting, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Faith is probably chatting and laughing with customers, and Kirk is handling the coffee and kitchen in the back. It feels both like a vacation treat and a college town coffee shop wrapped into one. You might get the feeling that everyone there knows each other, but that’s not necessarily true. The Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company just feels like the kind of place where you can chat up the guy at the table next to yours without it being weird.
Like so many new “locals,” Kirk fell in love with the Forgotten Coast after vacationing here for years. He spent most of his career as a chef in the Caribbean. When he and Faith heard the Apalachicola Chocolate Company was for sale, they jumped at the chance to move stateside and make their dream of small-town life a reality.
Kirk roasts coffee beans at least twice a week and, during the busing season, every day of the week. He uses a direct heat barrel roaster. Some local favorites are the Sumatra coffee from the Mandheling region, their traditional macchiato, and their unique cold brew (made from a gravity drip). Kirk also makes fresh pastries, fudge, chocolates, and gelato—not to mention offering a killer breakfast and lunch menu.
The Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Companies coffee reaches beyond their brick shop. Oyster City Brewing Company uses Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company coffee for their chocolate coffee stout called Gritwater, and Eastpoint Beer creates their Dark Overlord beer using it. Most recently, Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company created a unique blend of coffee called the Pitmaster Blend, and it was presented at the annual Butt’s and Clucks Barbecue Competition in Apalachicola.
Don’t pass up an opportunity to stop by the Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company.
Bayside Coffee Company
If you drive through Eastpoint, you will pass the unassuming Bayside Coffee Company. Just follow your nose inside to a treat for your senses. Indie music pleasantly plays, local artwork is displayed, and a rustic bar with stools provides a comfortable place to sit and enjoy all this. Take a deep breath. It’s that warm fresh coffee aroma that comforts, calms, and stimulates at the same time. More than likely, you will see owner Matt Lee manning the counter and just beyond him the old oyster counting booths, remnants of the building’s purpose from years ago.
Megan Lee, Matt’s wife and co-owner of Bayside Coffee Company, operates the Coffee Truck on St. George Island. The coffee truck offers delicious freshly roasted and brewed coffee to those who don’t want to cross the bridge to the mainland.
Matt and Megan Lee opened Bayside Coffee Company in May 2020 and the Bayside Coffee Company Coffee Truck in December 2020. Opening their coffee shop in Eastpoint was a long time coming. Both equipped with MBAs and corporate experience, Matt and Megan moved to the area from the Atlanta Metro with a dream worth taking the risk. They purchased a small oyster house in Eastpoint in October 2019. While renovating the oyster house, they sold freshly roasted coffee beans at area Farmers Markets and shops and delivered them in-person to locals in the area. Bayside Coffee Company’s storefront opened in May 2020. And the rest is history.
Matt is very picky about the beans he purchases. He explained that coffee is a fruit and seasonal. To have fresh beans year-round, Matt sources coffee beans from different places. Currently, he sources from Honduras, Mexico, Columbia, Kenya, Cambodia, and Peru. He uses a Fluid Bed Roaster and roasts small batches (only around 12 lbs at a time). It uses clean hot air and roasts beans for a delicate and sweet taste.
Many customers are regulars coming in for a salted caramel latte or a nitro cold brew, and then many come in to buy bags of freshly roasted beans to brew at home. A local hit is the Eastpoint Special. This coffee touts two times the standard caffeine content and is a blend of Robusta and Arabica beans. The Robusta beans add a peanutty tone and the extra caffeine. Whichever bean, blend, or drink you try, you will not forget the experience or the coffee. Bayside Coffee Company is a must-do, must-try experience on the Forgotten Coast.
Zen Coffee Roasters
You will only find Zen Coffee Roasters freshly roasted beans and brew at the Apalachicola Farmers Market or the Carrabelle Country Farmers Market. In addition to sinful sweet rolls and cakes, you will see John Relyea’s Zen coffee beans for sale.
As a child, John vacationed at his grandparent’s home in Lanark Village every summer. After having a varied career from photographer to a business owner, he decided to move to Lanark for a slower-paced life.
John started roasting beans as a hobby, and while he does use a professional coffee roaster, he has tried many ways of roasting, even in a frying pan. John roasts and sells exclusive specialty coffees, and you never know what he will have at the farmer’s markets. He might have anything from Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee beans to Kenyan Coffee Beans. Most of the time, he carries his favorite, Ethiopian beans.
Zen Coffee Roasters will take special orders and find the particular coffee bean that you want. Stop by John Relyea’s booth and try a cup of piping hot coffee or purchase a bag of his exotic roasted coffee beans.
Local, local, local
There are many reasons to support local roasters. Coffee is at its peak three days to 2 weeks after it is roasted, so there is no doubt that buying locally roasted coffee means buying fresh coffee. And, you can speak directly with roasters to learn more about the coffee bean’s region and taste. They might suggest a particular grind for your specific coffee maker or offer a new blend you might like. Stop by one of our local coffee shops—support our local businesses. You never know, you might see a friend or make a new one, and, hot, iced, shaken, or stirred, you will undoubtedly receive a delicious cup of coffee.