Starbucks can be a much-needed pitstop when you’re making a Target run, but sometimes, a mom needs a pick-me-up with a little more flavor. (And I’m not talking a grande PSL that packs a whopping 50 grams of sugar.) Local flavor. A place where mamas can feel at home, grab a cup o’ joe just how they like it, and not have to wash the dishes afterward.
More of an iced coffee or latte girl myself, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Costa Rican beans or an Ethiopian blend, but I do consider myself a bit of a coffee shop connoisseur. Meaning, if there’s a coffee shop within a 25-mile radius, I’ve either been there, or I know about it. (Hey, some moms prefer a glass of rosé; my daily ritual involves a nitro cold brew sweetened with a splash of cream.) Before I had my babies, my happy place as a freelance writer was a local spot with my laptop, a pastry, an Instagram-worthy latte and a window seat — the cozier, the better. While those solo visits are now few and far between (thanks, motherhood), I scoured a few local joints with some mom friends for your sipping pleasure — all in the name of research, of course.
Bold Bean Coffee Roasters
Where: Riverside, San Marco, Jax Beach | Drive-Thru: No | Highchairs: Yes | Changing Table: Yes | My Order: Spicy chocolate mocha, coffee cream-filled pastry
Bold Bean is about as local as it gets, as they source their own coffee beans and roast them locally at their own facility in Murray Hill. Offering several single origins and blends, coffee lovers can purchase their beans wholesale or retail online or at one of their three citywide locations. The trio of diverse Bold Bean cafés also make their own syrups in-house (current seasonal offerings are curry and ginger — no pumpkin spice here) and serve a variety of beer, wine and tea, as well as homemade pastries, danishes and pretzel bagels. While the local chain’s Riverside and San Marco locations are spacious enough for mommy-and-me hangouts, the Jacksonville Beach café is on the smaller side.
Where: Near St. John’s Town Center | Drive-Thru: Yes | Highchairs: No | Changing Table: Yes | My Order: Vanilla latte, homemade cinnamon roll
Considered by many to be a hidden gem near the hustle and bustle of the Town Center mall, Sippers offers an eclectic, communal vibe with mismatched, vintage-inspired décor and furniture, as well as several board games and books for entertainment seekers. Breakfast sandwiches, baked goods and wraps are served up while classics like Leave It To Beaver play on the lone television. Medium-roast and dark-roast drip coffee are always on hand, along with a variety of espresso drinks and Italian sodas. The latte flavors are endless and include gingerbread, pumpkin, ginger, white chocolate and cheesecake. The best part? Forget about lugging that carseat inside to get your java fix, because there’s a drive-thru.
Southern Grounds Co.
Where: Neptune Beach | Drive-Thru: No | Highchairs: Yes | Changing Table: Yes | My Order: Iced choffee (nitro cold brew with chocolate), avocado toast
Located in the heart of Neptune Beach mere blocks from the Atlantic, Southern Grounds brews and sells Intelligentsia coffee (artisan direct trade), along with local craft beers and wine on tap. The usual suspects are present (cappuccinos, chai lattes, cold brew, French press, etc.) while flavorings include toffee nut, maple spice, caramel and pumpkin spice (seasonal), to name a few. This chef-driven coffee shop introduces new menu offerings every few weeks, with the ever-present pastries, cakes, breakfast options, salads, sandwiches and kids’ menu all handcrafted in-house. With extensive seating both indoors and outdoors, SoGro is a must for mom dates, solo dates or actual dates, as you can often catch live music in the courtyard.
The Urban Bean Coffeehouse Cafe
Where: Orange Park | Drive-Thru: Yes | Highchairs: Yes | Changing Table: Yes | My Order: Pumpkin spice latte, fruity pot
Tucked away in Orange Park, Urban Bean is a family-owned establishment that serves Counter Culture coffee (small-batch roastery) and a massive menu of kitchen offerings made from scratch. Omelets, waffle boats, sandwiches, flatbreads and assorted pastries (including house-made doughnuts) are just a few edibles offered at this spacious coffeehouse. Seasonal syrups include maple, peppermint mocha, ginger pumpkin and pumpkin spice, crafted from pumpkins roasted in-house. Extremely family friendly, Urban Bean also offers a kids’ table, complete with pint-sized chairs and toddler-approved toys. Patrons can sit indoors or outdoors and enjoy live music on weekends or get their java to go via the convenient drive-thru.
Vagabond Coffee Co.
Where: Murray Hill | Drive-Thru: No | Highchairs: Yes | Changing Table: No | My Order: Honey latte, homemade Nutella pop-tart
Vagabond recently morphed from serving cups of coffee out of a vintage camper in downtown Jacksonville to a real brick-and-mortar coffeehouse in Murray Hill. You can find their java (roasted in-house) at the popular downtown doughnut delicatessen, Good Dough, and even occasionally find Good Dough’s pastries at Vagabond — talk about a mutually beneficial partnership. Decorated with old-school team pennants and rustic furnishings, the shop also offers an array of pastries, quiche, muffins and homemade pop-tarts, as well as seasonal syrups and pies (place your Thanksgiving pie orders early — yes, they take orders). For those in need of entertainment, Vagabond also has several board games on hand, as well as a few toys for the kiddos, including my son’s personal favorite, an adorable wooden coffeemaker, complete with miniature coffee cups.
There are only so many hours in the day for this mama, and I admit, I have yet to visit every single java joint in Jax. But these are definitely on my coffee shop bucket list!
Alyona’s Coffee: Nestled between Arlington and Southside, this family-based business is exclusively drive-thru and offers a variety of hot and cold organic, fair-trade coffees and espresso beverages.
Brass Tacks Coffee: This hip Southside coffee shop is well known for roasting their own coffee beans and also serves up espresso, tea, wine and local beers on tap. Bonus: Yes, they have a drive-thru!
Breezy Coffee Shop Café: Intimate coffee shop and café serving light breakfast and lunch fare, as well as specialty coffee drinks, beer and wine. Located in Jacksonville Beach.
Brew Five Points: Craft beer and espresso bar serves up (you guessed it) beer and coffee, as well as baked goods and artisan toast in historic Five Points. Check out their Facebook events for more info on ladies’ nights and featured art openings.
The Coffee Grinder: Southside hot spot serving Panache coffee, as well as beer and wine, all to the tune of progressive house and trance music spun by live DJs.
The Mini Bar: Tiny donuts made fresh to order? Sign us up! Based in Jacksonville Beach, the Mini Bar boasts itty-bitty bites and has partnered with Bold Bean to serve a variety of coffee and espresso bevs.
Pura Bean Coffee Company: Small-batch, artisan coffee company and café located near the Intracoastal Waterway with single origin and blended offerings.
Sago Coffee: This new Jacksonville Beach establishment fosters a sense of community where conversation and coffee can meet, while also benefiting a different local nonprofit each quarter.
Social Grounds: Veteran owned and operated establishment in Springfield employs and empowers homeless veterans through the City of Jacksonville Service Providers. Sources and roasts single origin beans in-house and offers a variety of beverages and baked goods.
Southern Roots Filling Station: Downtown vegan/vegetarian café serving artisan coffee and breakfast and lunch options comprised of quality, organic ingredients.
Spring Park Coffee: Charming Green Cove Springs location brews beans from its sister company, Brass Tacks Coffee Co. and serves up specialty coffees, pastries, waffles and breakfast sandwiches. Also features the occasional open mic night and a rotating name-of-the-day special, where you get a free coffee if your name is featured on the outdoor sign.
Twisted Compass Brewing Company: Located in Fruit Cove, Twisted Compass proudly brews Bold Bean coffee and serves up delicious baked goods from Knead Bakeshop and Hyppo ice pops.
Which local coffee shop is your favorite and why?