Just study the stats. According to the National Coffee Association of America, 7-10 Americans drink coffee. Sixty-two percent of Americans drink coffee every day, with the average drinker consuming three cups a day. That’s a lot of Joe. The association reports that coffee consumption has been up by 5% since 2015.
With that many coffee drinkers, coffeehouses aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity. And we aren’t just talking about Starbucks. The latest reports indicate that independent coffeehouses generate 12 billion dollars in sales annually.
Like any thriving city, Orlando has its share of independent coffee houses meaning there is plenty to choose from, so there have to be other factors involved pushing you in through the doors of your favorite coffeehouse.
The brand of coffee, taste, location, corporate name, all of these can be a reason. I can’t speak for you, but just as important as brands and the taste of my coffee, what I really like is the atmosphere of the coffeehouse. I hate sitting down with my coffee and seeing every table with an open laptop and guys sporting goatees. I want a coffeehouse where I feel at home because I don’t want to be home.
I feel I’m not demanding much because with 24,000 coffeehouses nationwide and 50,000 more expected, I think I can be choosy.
As an Orlandian, there are three independent coffeehouses I feel are unique and champion as much as I can. This isn’t because there are no “goatee-guys,” although some dampen the doors. As a published writer and member of the Central Florida Film Community, I feel these three coffee shops check all the boxes. Well, they check my boxes anyway.
#3: Austin’s Coffee
Ironically, it may not look like much, but Austin’s Coffee is all about presentation. I mean by the presentation that there is a live event there almost every evening. From poetry readings, music, and open mic, Austin’s is an excellent way to spend some time with a cup of Joe.
I know that doesn’t sound different than other coffeehouses across the country, but trust me, Austin’s is different, and it doesn’t discriminate With the type of live acts allowed to perform. You get the good, the bad, and the very ugly.
And when I say “ugly,” some are bad. But I’m used to being in a live show atmosphere. Maybe it’s the stage manager in me. But I feel It’s the atmosphere of those moments that will leave you wanting more coffee and more Austin’s. And like most businesses struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin’s Coffee is struggling. Let’s hope patrons like me will continue to come to Austin’s and keep it alive.
#2: Stardust Video and Coffee
Unfortunately, Stardust Video and Coffee doesn’t have a lot of videos anymore. Times change. The age of videotape has gone the way of the floppy disc. The Stardust’s walls, once hidden behind large stacks of VHS tapes, are now plainly visible. But the name has stuck, and once you go inside the Stardust, the spectacle of lighting, shelves of books, and busy adult beverage bar all work together to create a party atmosphere right out of a John Hughes movie.
If you were alive in the ’80s, you recognize it. If you weren’t around in the ’80s, but you’ve heard about them, it’s what you imagined. Maybe I love Stardust because I love the John Hughes movies. Stardust captures that feeling but gives it its 21st Century vibe.
#1: Prometheus Esoterica
No other coffeehouse in Orlando can compare with Prometheus Esoterica.
Part antique shop, part house of oddities, Prometheus Esoterica is all about atmosphere and turn of the century dental tools. Where else can you have Orlando’s “Weirdest Cup of Coffee” next to a real, stuffed ostrich and a real coffin? Any description I could write could never fully describe this unique coffeehouse experience. Watch the below video as owners Adam and Whitney explain their particular cup of Joe to me.