Ah, coffee. It’s fuel for our busy days; often the elixir for our not-so-good days.
Way before the canned chemical concoctions of energy drinks, there was coffee—more something to be sipped and savored than swigged and gulped. Josephus Daniels would be proud.
When Daniels was appointed secretary of the U.S. Navy in 1913, he banned alcohol from military ships. The disgruntled sailors then began calling coffee, the strongest drink they were allowed, a “cup of joe.”
Here’s a look at some of the places in the Ocala area where you’re sure to find a good cup of joe.
7 & 7 Coffee and Wine House
Minutes into your visit at 7 & 7 Coffee and Wine House, after only a few sips of a smooth espresso, you feel as though you’re enjoying a lovely afternoon in a close friend’s home. And that’s exactly how Noel and DonaMarie Nosse want you to feel.
“We wanted to create a coffee house environment that felt welcoming and relaxing,” says Noel, an occupational therapist; DonaMarie is a real estate agent. “We want to invite people to come and stay awhile.”
In the small beige stone house, built in 1961 and located on the southernmost end of SW 1st Avenue, the Nosses have indeed created just that atmosphere. The house’s front half is set up as a large dining room with an eclectic mix of tables and comfy chairs, seating anywhere from two to eight per table. The open floor plan flows back to the barista bar and an open kitchen area with six barstools. Wine racks line the walls. Tucked away in a nook is an upright piano and Noel’s snare drum for live music on most nights.
“We actually bought the house because it had a drive-through window from a previous business. Our first idea was to open a little drive-through convenience store,” says Noel. “But DonaMarie is a great barista, and it was her idea to turn it into a coffee house. Then we added food to have with the coffee. Then wine and craft beer. And we evolved into this little niche cafe.”
Best Seller: “Our Raspberry Mocha is described by our customers as fantastically delicious and beautiful,” says Noel.
Barista’s Brew: “DonaMaria makes a spicy Mexican Mocha that’s topped with cinnamon, cocoa and cayenne pepper,” recommends Noel.
Good Pairings: “Any coffee with the Apple Pie Panini,” says Noel. “It’s fresh apple slices, cream cheese and honey on grilled-pressed raisin bread.”
7&7 Coffee and Wine House
2119 SW 1st Avenue, Ocala › the7n7.com › (352) 355-1223
Hours: Mon-Thu 6:30am-8pm ›
Fri 6:30am-11pm › Sat 6am-11pm
Symmetry Coffee & Crepes
OK, Ted Linn admits it—he’s having a brewmance.
At the center of that brewmance is Symmetry Coffee & Crepes, ideally located an easy stroll from the downtown square in the old Sovereign Building. Gone are the bank teller windows, replaced by the barista bar where The Slayer brewing machine resides. The downstairs, high-ceiling corner space, complete with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, includes wooden tables and colorful metal chairs. Think an upscale New York City loft.
“Our focus is on quality, not volume,” says Ted, who owns the business with his wife, Cheri. “Our coffee beans are sourced from small coffee farmers from around the world. It’s easy to brew coffee simply for caffeine, but we believe in making extraordinary coffee.”
Ted notes, “The Slayer gives our baristas full control of the coffee profile to bring out all the nuances.”
The cafe offers cold- and hot-brewed coffees, as well as six different Slow Bar brewing methods.
“Ocala has embraced us,” says Ted. “And we plan to continue to offer a unique, quality coffee experience.”
Best Seller: “People really like our Nitro Tap Coffee,” says Ted. “It’s a cold-brewed coffee with a shot of nitrogen added at the end, served like a draft beer.”
Barista’s Brew: Ted recommends, “The Cortado, a shot of espresso with just a splash of textured milk.”
Good Pairings: “Of course, the perfect complement to our coffees are our crepes,” says Ted. “Mix and match any coffee with one of our savory and sweet crepes. We even have a gluten-free buckwheat flour, or we can put the crepe ingredients in a bowl for those with dietary issues.”
Symmetry Coffee & Crepes
108 N Magnolia Avenue, Ocala› symmetrycoffeecrepes.com › (352) 525-0495
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-6pm › Sat 8am-3:30pm
B.D. Beans Café & Coffee Co.
Imagine a cozy coffee cafe inside an Alice-In-Wonderland art gallery.
Welcome to Belleview-based B.D. Beans Cafe & Coffee Co.
“I traveled for many years with my daughter who was in the entertainment business,” says owner Becky Bennett, who founded the business 20 years ago. “We would go to all these little cafes in New York and Los Angeles. They served great coffee, and you could just hang out. That was my inspiration.”
The little, powder-blue house sits behind its landmark blue mural fence just off SE Abshier Boulevard (Highway 441 South). And, oh, there’s a lovely little garden for outdoor seating behind the fence. Inside the cafe, colorful artwork includes paintings, wall murals and painted furniture. The painted mannequin heads and busts are selfie favorites. Knickknacks any grandmother would be proud of fill every nook and cranny.
“I love art and just started collecting things over the years,” says Becky. “Artists and customers have brought things in. People come to see our décor.”
Of course, people also come for the coffee, as well as for breakfast, lunch and fresh-baked desserts.
“We’re very proud of our coffee,” says Becky. “I’ve had the same Sarasota roaster for 20 years. That consistency is key to the quality of our coffee.”
Best Seller: “Our Costa Rican Blend, a medium roast coffee, has been a favorite from the beginning,” says Becky.
Barista’s Brew: Becky recommends, “The Java Jazz. It’s an iced or hot espresso latte with a shot of vanilla, caramel syrup and whipped cream.”
Good Pairings: “The Kona Macadamia with our Havarti Cheese Omelette or Garden Quiche,” says Becky.
B.D. Beans Cafe & Coffee Co.
5148 SE Abshier Blvd., Belleview › (352) 245-3077
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-3pm
Chelsea Coffee Company
After being involved in the restaurant business since she was 15, Brenda Butzer decided it was time to have her own place. And not just any place.
“I wanted to own a coffee shop with a welcoming, stay-awhile atmosphere,” says Brenda, who with her husband, Michael, bought Chelsea Coffee House in 2012. “I wanted a mom-and-pop kind of place, where people didn’t feel like they had to come in, buy coffee and leave.”
Chelsea Coffee House does indeed have that small-town diner vibe, complete with a bay window to watch the world go by on Silver Springs Boulevard. A pair of comfy loveseats creates a cozy conversation corner. Kids are welcomed with a basket of stuffed animals and books to occupy their time while Mom enjoys a latte.
The breakfast menu includes bagels, quiche and pastries. For lunch, pair the quiche of the day with a cup of soup or a salad. Or have one of the many salad, sandwich, panini or wrap selections.
“Our roaster packages our own Chelsea Morning Blend for us,” says Brenda, who prefers just plain black coffee. “It’s our daily brew, a light roast that’s available all day. Our dark roast coffee changes monthly and is served until noon.”
For Brenda, Chelsea Coffee House has become all she hoped it would.
“I really enjoy our coffee house,” says Brenda. “I love my customers. They put a smile on my face every day.”
Best Seller: “Without a doubt, our Caramel Macchiato is our most popular coffee drink,” says Brenda. “It’s a pretty layered drink that’s very tasty.”
Barista’s Brew: Brenda notes, “I think we are the only place in the area that sells white espresso drinks. It’s made from very lightly roasted beans that are low in acidity, and it has 70 percent more caffeine than regular roasted coffee. Our most popular white espresso drink is the Pale Irishman, which includes white chocolate and Irish cream.”
Good Pairings: “I have to go with what one of my longtime customers always gets,” says Brenda. “A Medium Mocha and a chocolate almond biscotti. He tells me that it’s the perfect combination.”
Chelsea Coffee Company
3217 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala › chelseacoffeecompany.com › (352) 351-5282
Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-7pm › Sat 7am-7pm › Sun 8am-6pm