We made out to Florida for our funeral/family reunion to an unsurprising series of rainy days, which were then followed by miserably hot humid days. Every time I visit FL, it reminds me how much I love AZ. If you are unfamiliar with driving in FL...it sucks...a lot. Mainly because of the tolls. We don't really carry cash, so tolls are a bit of problem for us. Since there are tolls on every freeway, it really limited our options for coffee shops. We had searched for some of the top shops in FL and the only one that was reasonably on our way back into Orlando was Austin's Coffee.
I apologize up front for the blurry pictures. The lighting was rough for my phone.
I will admit that, due to some trouble at the last toll, I was not in the greatest of moods. I tried to put it aside and just enjoy the shop. It did make Orlando's top shops on http://orlando.cityvoter.com/best/coffee-shop/specialty-food-and-drink/orlando and http://www.hercampus.com/school/ucf/4-best-coffee-shops-orlando
My initial response was meh. The shop was kind of a hole in the wall with parking behind the building. Nothing fancy, even looked a little rough from the street view. Once inside all I could think of was how incredibly out of place I was, and that my family stuck out like a sore thumb. We had been driving for a quite a while so I hit the bathroom first. It was clean, not perfect, but good enough. As I washed my hands, I realized that every brick in the wall had different pictures drawn on it. It was not bathroom graffiti, it was like this through the entire building. I thought that was a really cool touch. The problem though is that it wasn't used like an accent wall, so the "collage" mentality spread through out the store and made it feel disjointed and like no one cared about building.
The bar was not my favorite. They were brewing an what looked like one of the basic Bunn models into air pots. Everything was everywhere. I had a really hard time really figuring out what this place was supposed to be. Now that I am looking back on the pictures, it really feels like someones garage that they supplied from yard sale items so he could hang out and drink with his college buddies. The barista was nice enough to serve, but wasn't trying to wow anyone. She did her job and that is what she was there for.
One tidbit that I really liked about this place (and what seems to be the main focal point of the super official coffee judges in the websites above), is that they micro-roast. There is a little air popper roaster next to the bar. They roast all day and all the baristas know how to use it. The barista said that everything was already figured out (so not like all the baristas are roasting artists), so they just loaded the beans, changed the setting and hit start. Would like to hear they cared a bit more about it, but still a really cool concept that I am going to look into.
Now for the coffee...I had a Guatemalan drip coffee and my wife had an ice coffee. The drip coffee had a decent bitter chocolate taste, but didn't really wow me. It was pretty meh. I couldn't tell if it was the bean or the brewer though. My wife's ice coffee was just hot coffee that they put a ton of sugar in and then put in the refrigerator. In case anyone is wondering, no you should not do that. You have to compensate for how the coffee changes when its cold, when ice is added, when that much sugar is added, and all kinds of other things. I asked for it to be half sweet / half unsweetened, but it was still way to sweet for me. I was in the South though, so I may not have had proper expectations. I still stand by that you cannot treat ice coffee, like ice tea.
Overall, I would not recommend this shop. It had some good ideas, but I don't feel like they are taking it seriously. It is also hard to tell if it is "eclectic" or dirty (yes, that is a dog in the picture to the right). In a city that is almost completely defined by theme parks, everyone is trying hard to stick out, but the more you stick out the more you blend in.