Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oceana Coffee - Café Review

Water is the most consumed liquid on the planet. No surprise there. When looking for the runners up I was shocked to be inundated by useless websites, but can state with reasonable certainty #2 is between tea and coffee (depending on the source) with alcohol close behind.

Over the last few years, I have evolved into a full on coffee drinker and anyone who has ever seen me prior to 9 am... well, at basically any time of day... has probably spotted me and a travel mug of coffee within arm's reach. This does not mean in any way that I understood a single thing about coffee aside from how to use my 2-4 cup Mr. Coffee maker. As my mugs grew larger, I have since upgraded to a 12 cup version. I swear I don't drink the whole pot, really I mean it.

While working at a local nature center/aquarium, I taught kid's yoga and also found myself leading the story time programs on a regular basis. As a brilliant plus, coffee is served to adults at the River Center's free "Starfish & Coffee" story time. Being the most avid coffee drinker amongst the staff, I made the dark drink using a boring generic brand we kept stored in the freezer for "freshness".

When Amy Angelo walked into my yoga class as just a mom with 2 great kids, I had no idea of how this encounter would essentially change my way of thinking about a vital part of my daily routine. She is the founder and owner of Oceana Coffee, along with her husband Scott, and one of those ladies working moms can see as a true role model.

Oceana Coffee at the River Center's Birthday Bash

Before the first Oceana Coffee location opened, and patronage was only available online, Amy brought her kids to our story time and immediately grabbed me after the program. "I'm sorry, Callie. We love this place and your program, but I cannot in good conscience let you serve that coffee anymore." Oceana Coffee became a sponsor for the River Center, providing a refined level of excellent coffee for all programs, events, and staff. Basically, I got spoiled - quick.

I started buying coffee for home use, as presents for friends and family, and even took 2 freshly ground lbs with me up to West Virginia because based on previous holiday trips the coffee pickins were gonna be slim. Better to make my own each morning and leave the extras for the owners of the condo to savor as a token of my gratitude.

By the time they opened a cafe in Tequesta at the end of 2011, I had been waiting far too long to get the full "Oceana Experience".  My first coffee was made courtesy of Chris Sands - which I think is a totally cool name for somebody working at a place with ocean in the title - and it changed my coffee religion.

As always, thank you, Chris!
I also met Brooke Kruhm, who began my coffee education within moments. When purchasing my first pound of coffee, she asked what type of coffee maker I had at home. Uh, Mr. Coffee? What does it matter? She smiled and clarified: french press, drip filter...? Oh, I get it now. It does matter how the beans themselves are ground. Question #2 from Brooke: How do you store your coffee? Would you like a resealable bag? Oh, I just store it in the freezer. Brooke's eyes grew large and then softened as she truly came to realize what a coffee rookie looked like, staring ignorantly at her and smiling - goofily numbed by some amazing mocha and open to all suggestions from the coffee gurus. Oh no, sweetie, don't do that ever again. Now promise me you will not put this in the freezer, or else I won't give it to you.  Wait... you say I, I ... can't have my awesome coffee if I put in the freezer?!! "Yes, ma'am. I promise. It won't happen again. I'm sorry."  I have made certain to keep that promise.

Ok, so right now maybe you think I am just a crazy caffeine addict, but for those who enjoy another popular worldwide beverage ponder these points:
  • The best beers come from microbreweries.  If you dont' agree, then you have not sampled nearly enough specialty beers to understand.
  • Teas have a variety of unique blends and can be brewed to different strengths and tastes.  Anyone who cannot tell the difference between black, white, and green teas may as well stick with straight water.
  • Good wine can have complexity and depth.  Sommeliers were biologically proven to have more taste buds and a more sensitive palate than the typical human being.  It takes years to develop a beautiful wine, and I now know that coffee can be just as intricate in flavor and scent.
Heaven exists, and it comes in an eco-friendly cup
Freshness is vital to any agricultural product.  Gourmet restaurants pride themselves in using local produce and the high quality of their ingredients; coffee is no different.  At Oceana Coffee, the beans are carefully selected and shipped in fresh; then they are roasted at the shop itself.  The Angelos even announce "roasting events" where the public is invited to stay after normal business hours to experience the art of this process for themselves.  Talk about getting a real coffee education!
Greeted through the front door by the machine that makes the magic
Kid-friendly corner
While having a toddler has contributed greatly to my need for/love of coffee, I wouldn't exactly refer to the typical cafe as being kid-friendly.  This is NOT the case at Oceana!  Remember, I was introduced to Amy as a mom first, and being a parent was carefully taken into consideration when crafting the interior of her shop.  There is a kid's corner - toys, puzzles, books, and even a kid friendly computer with already on screen.

Making friends quickly
It took Jace about 3 seconds to find the toys and settle in happily.  Oceana Coffee will even make a "baby-cino" (steamed milk in a tiny cup) so your little one can have their "coffee" too!  Since Oceana was not created as a fast-food style coffee shop, having a way to keep my little boy happy is a priceless commodity that actually allows me to sit down to drink a cup of coffee - any parent knows this is quite a luxury in itself.  To put things simply: Jace cried when my cup was empty and it was time to go.  We were there for 45 minutes last time and he still wanted to stick around and enjoy the atmosphere.

There are also pastries and some useful gift ideas, but this place is all about the coffee and sharing the opportunity to enjoy it as the coffee gods intended - slow and relaxed.  Meanwhile, I have also been reading the book Onward by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and realized something incredibly interesting about the company and its path to mass market success.  I am positive that Schultz would walk into Oceana Coffee and not only be blown away by the experience, but reminded that this is how his own little coffee dream began.  Wouldn't it be amazing to be a part of something great in the very beginning? Well, Oceana is already expanding to a second location - so here is your chance.

To learn far more about coffee than I could ever understand, including links to great video tutorials check out their website:  Go there, get the history and feel for some amazing locally roasted coffee.  Once smitten, try ordering some to be shipped in case you aren't exactly local.  I also recommend following them on facebook. The staff attends green markets and various community events regularly, and the social network is a great way to stalk them and know when/where to track down the best coffee in town.  Admit it, don't you hate it when you settle for nationwide chain coffee just to find a quaint little cafe 2 streets down?

Oceana Coffee is not about rushing around or waiting in lines and fighting over the last bagel.  This lovely local cafe harnesses their passion for coffee and will lure its guests into the fold with open arms and warm smiles.  They know the product intimately, and every roasted bean and filled cup expresses this proudly.  I consider myself lucky to have found them over a year ago, and perhaps my latest compliment to Oceana Coffee's premium product and staff - I bought a coffee grinder.

In case the review isn't clear on this one:
~~~~~ (5 out of 5 waves), and I think that is a first even for me.

Never be too busy to enjoy a cup with friends or family... maybe have a sip after a SUP session?
-Callie Sharkey