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Rio Coco Cafe, Vero Beach – What a gem!

RioCocoKaraBeanSalad

Finally, a new post!  It seems like it’s been ages since I had posted anything.  Terrible, I know.  So what’s been going on with me?  Work, traveling, trying to be healthy and enjoy life.  During my little travels to Vero Beach, FL I found a cute little coffee shop.  There’s just something I love about coffee shops.  The smell of fresh roasted coffee beans, the relaxing atmosphere, it’s just a good place for a quick mental getaway.

 

RioCocoExteriorRioCocoCounterRio Coco Cafe has all that and it’s been around for over a year.  Don’t let the exterior fool you, the inside is full of goodness!  It’s located in a shopping plaza near the Vero Beach Airport.

When you walk in the atmosphere is instantly welcoming, filled with the smells of roasted coffee.  I absolutely love coffee shops and this place doesn’t disappoint.

The staff is extremely helpful and friendly!  There’s a food menu, drink menu and a coffee beans menu.  The food menu consists of breakfast items, salads, paninis and wraps.  I’m at a coffee place so you know I’ve got to try some of the coffee here!  White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Espresso Drink it is!  Sweet, strong and tasty.  Not a bad way to get the day started.

RioCocoMacadamiaNutEspressoDrink

 

RioCocoKaraBeanSaladI ordered the Kara Bean Salad with Chicken and my boyfriend ordered the Pesto Chicken Panini.  The Kara Bean Salad ($7.01) is vegan and gluten free unless you decide to add additional items to it.  I added chicken for an additional 2 dollars.  This is a vibrant salad with spinach, romaine lettuce, shredded red cabbage, black beans, corn, mandarin oranges, almonds, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.  This salad had great texture and was very hearty.

 

RioCocoChickenPestoPaniniThe Chicken Pesto Panini ($7.24) has chicken, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, and pesto.  The wraps and sandwiches come with multi-grain flax chips and a pickle.  This was another filling menu item but not overly filling where you want to take a nap after lunch.

 

RioCocoFlankSteakSaladThere are two flank steak items listed with fairly close prices.  The Flank Steak Salad ($7.48) and the Flank Steak Panini ($7.71).  The Flank Steak Salad has steak, spinach, romaine lettuce, sweet peppers,red onions, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.  The Flank Steak Panini consists of french bread, steak, red onions, horseradish sauce, and RC sauce.

RioCocoFlankSteakPaniniI found the salad to have more flavor and more content than the Flank Steak Panini.

 

 

 

 

RioCocoCoffeeRoasterYou’ll notice their slogan, “good coffee, great cause.”  The folks at Rio Coco Cafe call their coffee 100% humanic.  That’s right, “humanic”, not organic or fair trade.  They have a nifty little video about it on YouTube if you have the time to watch.  Basically the profits that Rio Coco Cafe earns goes to help children and teachers in Nicaragua that are involved with Project Ezra.  The coffee is roasted in small batches, in house.

Overall the food is good and the service is great, but you should really come here for the coffee.   If you aren’t in the local area to try the coffee, you can always order coffee from their website Rio Coco Beans.


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Vespr New Menu Items

VesprMan'sManSalad

VesprCupVespr has quickly become a new favorite of mine.  In my previous post about Vespr, I shared some awesome items such as the “Barrel Smoked Sweet Iced Tea”.  Currently, Vespr has baked treats which is good and all but how about some REAL food?  Don’t get me wrong, cookies and all them baked treats are fine but…this girl likes to eat!  Well, let me tell ya… new items are coming soon.

VesprMotherJarSalads, parfaits and lattes, oh my!  Yes, that’s right…I said salads at Vespr.  The new menu items are set to launch Saturday, July 20, 2013.  The two featured salads are the “Mother Jar” and the “Man’s Man Salad”. Both salads are served in large Mason jars.  The “Mother Jar” is perfect for the vegetarians and it’s a nice, light salad.  Mixed greens, sweet cherry tomatoes, penne pasta, fresh mozzarella, and a delicate spice vinaigrette.   I loved the fresh basil in the slightly sweet dressing.  The dressings are portioned out to be 0.7 ounces.   I’m not a big salad dressing girl but I thought I would need more.  Nope, it was jusssst right.  I highly suggest after you thoroughly shake your salad,  to let it rest.  Letting the dressing permeate into the salad allowed the flavors to really come out.

 

VesprMan'sManSaladNext up, the “Man’s Man Salad”.  Mixed greens, bacon, grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, toasted pecans, with whiskey and candied bacon vinaigrette.  Let me tell you, this was a hearty salad.  The whiskey and candied bacon vinaigrette was something I hadn’t had before.  By itself, I can’t say I’m terribly fond of it but with the salad, it was really good.  This salad  is full of protein with the chicken, bacon (who doesn’t love bacon?!) and blocks of cheddar cheese.  Each salad is uniquely different but delicious.

 

The new menu features a “Smart Snacking” section.  This is the perfect snack food while working or studying.  There’s the Agave Parfait (low fat yogurt, agave nectar, granola), the Vespr Parfait, and the Vespr JAB.  The Vespr Parfait is composed of greek style yogurt, speciality jam, and granola. All the specialty jams come from local Forbidden Fruit Jam Company.  For the Vespr Parfait, you have your option of Sweet and Sassy Tropical Jam or the Watermelon Mint Mojito.  The Sweet and Sassy Tropical Jam is pineapple, blueberry and grapefruit.  Just so ya know, the Watermelon Mint Mojito does not contain any alcohol.  I am not the biggest fans of mojitos in general but I fell in love with this jam.  It tasted like a sweet minty watermelon jolly rancher.  MMMMMM….   I decided to go with the sweet and sassy tropical jam for the Vespr parfait.  It is served in a long jar so that you have enough room to stir the parfait.  As soon as opened my jar, I smelled the parfait.  AHHHH…. The delightful aroma reminded me of a blueberry pie.  The tartness of the greek yogurt, the sweet jam, the crunchiness of the granola.  Me gusta!  I even found some almonds in here!VesprParfait

TheVesprJABThe Vespr JAB (Jam & Almond Butter) is served with celery sticks.  The jam choices are the  Ménage À Trois Berry (raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) or the Peach-Raspberry Seduction (made with Jupiter peaches).  This is another great healthy snack.  Nuff said.

VesprButterscotchLatteVespr has 3 new specialty lattes they will be introducing.  The Butterscotch Latte, the Maple Madagascar Vanilla Latte, and the Lavender and Rose Latte.  The Butterscotch Latte is amazing!  Served with whip cream on the side of the cup, you could either stir it in or drink it from the whipped cream side.  A little whip cream mustache never hurt anyone.  The espresso still really shined through even with the extra flavors.  Needless to say, I drank all of this to the very last drop.

VesprMapleMadagascarVanillaLatteThe Maple Madagascar Vanilla Latte has real maple sugar around the cup.  This is a very sweet latte and it’s pretty much how it sounds.

VesprLavendarRoseLatteThe Lavender and Rose Latte is definitely interesting.  It has rose sugar crystals around the cup and lavender syrup in the latte.  I probably could eat this sugar by the spoonful.  It was floral, sweet and tasty.  And did I mention this latte is pretty?  Before you take a sip, make sure you stop and smell this latte.  One of my friends loved the latte but for me, it left me a bit perplexed.  I’m not quite sure what to make of it, I didn’t necessarily dislike it nor did I love it.  I kept smelling and drinking it, it really left me on the fence.  This latte is one of those you either hate it or love it, except for me.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  It’s a latte of interest.

 

So, my fav picks from the new menu: Man’s Man Salad, the Vespr Parfait and the Butterscotch Latte.  Bottom line… lots of new delicious items at Vespr!

 

http://thevespr.com/
Vespr Craft Coffee and Allures on Urbanspoon

 

 

The Hyppo Downtown Orlando

TheHyppoPistachioCoconut

TheHyppoExteriorIt’s getting hot out there and what better way to cool off then to get a delicious frozen treat.  How about a gourmet popsicle?  What madness is this?!  It’s true, organic popsicles in downtown Orlando.   Close to Lake Eola and underneath Post Parkside, you’ll find the Hyppo.  Small little place but tons of flavors inside.  The Hyppo has interesting flavors such as the Cucumber Lemon Mint or the Mexican Hot Chocolate.  Some of the pops have dairy in it, which are labeled on the board.  They are constantly rotating the selection here, so you’ll have plenty to chose from.  The “Elvis” is a popular hit, it’s made with peanut butter, banana and honey.

TheHyppoFlavors

The interior has mint chocolate green walls, two tables and seven chairs.  Pretty small place, so it’s good to get a pop and walk around the neighborhood.  The gourmet pops are flash frozen and the texture is soft yet firm.

TheHyppoPistachioCoconutPineappleGingerTheHyppoPistachioCoconutThe Pineapple Ginger was alright for me but not a favorite for me.  The ginger was prevalent but not too strong.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Pistachio Coconut.  With the creamy coconut flavor and the tastiness of the pistachios, I was a happy camper.  Neither overpowered one another, it was a nice delicate balance.  The Champagne Mango was also another delightful treat.  Just so you know, it doesn’t have any champagne in it.  It’s actually a type of mango,  Ataulfo mango.  The name is a bit misleading especially when you see a flavor like Riesling Pear.  The Riesling Pear pops are made from fresh pears blanched in a Riesling wine.

TheHyppoColdBrewedCoffeeTower

The Hyppo has cold brewed drip coffee which they get from Credo.  It’s a fun process to watch.

The original location is in Saint Augustine and the pops brought over from there.  Each pop is $3.50 including tax.  You can get extra fancy and get it dipped in chocolate for an additional dollar.  For those can’t get enough of the Hyppo, you can actually order the pops online.  How awesome is that?!

The Hyppo has only been open 3 months but they’re already looking to open another location in Orlando.  The Hyppo is a wonderful addition to Orlando and I look forward to trying the other flavors!

http://www.thehyppo.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheHyppoOrlando

HOURS:
Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm
Thurs-Sat: 11am-11pm
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Vespr Craft Coffee & Allures Waterford Lakes

VesprSweetTea

VesprExteriorHow much do you love coffee?  I mean “REAL” coffee?  Not the ones full of syrups and artificial flavors.  For the true coffee aficionados, I’m excited to say I’ve found a place for you.  Vespr Craft Coffee & Allures in the Waterford Lakes area will not disappoint.  It’s only been open for a little over a month but this place is definitely amazing.

Vespr would be classified under the “Third Wave Coffee” movement.  The first wave is coffee like Folger’s where you’re just drinking typical mass produced coffee.  The second wave is where people start getting fancy with their coffee with their speciality roasts.  Then we get to the third wave of coffee.  This is for the person who takes it to another level.  You truly adore coffee.  You want to know where it came from, you want that perfectly brewed coffee, you appreciate the depths of the flavor.  It’s all about the quality here.

VesprInteriorAs I entered Vespr, it came off as very spacious and minimalistic.  The gray walls had a few quotes here and there but not much else going on.  Chairs and tables against a wall here, large work table and bar stools there…I’m getting a workplace environment vibe as a opposed to a lounging on a couch place.

Before going up to the register, there’s a “sniff bar.”  Definitely stop and take a moment to sniff the coffee beans and tea leaves.

VesprSniffBarTea

Vespr offer baked goodies from bakeries around the US.  Some were locally from here in Orlando such as Iced Bakery.

VesprTreat

Unfortunately, the coffee beans are not roasted in house but they are ground to order and brewed by the cup.  The coffee here is fair trade and single origin, meaning the coffee you buy comes from one specific area and your purchase benefits the farmers.  Even though the coffee menu is limited, you’re getting higher quality coffee beans and Vespr constantly rotates the selection.

VesprSiphonsVesprSiphonCoffeeFor hot coffee, you can elect to have it brewed with a siphon or with a trifecta brewer.  I had the Marcala brewed on the Siphon, also known as a vacuum pot.  If you choose to get your coffee via siphon, it is an additional $1.50.  Getting your coffee the siphon route gives a lighter color and it removes the coffee oils.  Alicia, one of the baristas made my coffee.  It was SOOOOO cool.  I hadn’t seen such a thing before and I was mesmerized by the orange glow.  OOOOOOHHHHH!  Depending on the coffee, it takes about 90 seconds or less for the coffee to be brewed.  I’m not going to get into how it works since there’s a lot of fancy schmancy science stuff going on here between the pressure and water vapor.  Alls I know, that it’s fantastic coffee.  If you want to know how the process really works, the staff here would be happy to explain it to you.

VesprCoffee

The coffee is served in a double wall insulated glass.  I loved the presentation of the beverages here!

VesprSweetTeaThe Barrel Smoked Sweet Iced Tea ($6.5) is a new favorite of mine!  The mason jars are smoked with oak chips and a mint essential oil.  The tea is served only in-house and you prepare it yourself.  The ice is already in the mason jar.  You can definitely smell the smokiness when you open the jar.  The tea used is a loose leaf Yunnan tea (black tea) cold brewed for 10 hours.  You’ll also get one ounce of Grade A Vermont maple syrup.  This syrup has been aged for a year and what a difference it makes!  It was a fun experience putting the tea and the syrup in the jar, and then shaking it all up.  I was concerned initially if it was going to be too sweet with the maple syrup but it was perfect.  It reached a nice balance without it being too sweet.  An interesting side note is that the ice cubes are well, “cubed.”  Vespr has a Kold-Draft ice machine which produces perfectly square ice cubes.  Each cube is exactly one ounce and with it being cube shaped, the ice melts slowly.  Such ingenuity!

VesprSmokedSweetTea

 

Elderflower Champagne ($4) is non-alcoholic beverage made with natural elderflower syrup and carbonated distilled water.  The glass is sprayed with a mist of rose hydrosol.  The rose hydrosol is pretty much like an essential oil but more water based.  This is a sensory delight as you smell the roses while drinking the elderflower champagne.

VesprElderflowerChampagne

All the cups and lids are compostable.  Even the stickers are compostable.  After talking to Edd Siu, co-owner of Vespr, I saw how detailed everything was in here.  It really surprised me and I had a wonderful time.  This truly is a place focused on sustainability.  Even for the folks who aren’t crazy coffee fanatics, you’ll find something you’ll enjoy here.  Vespr will give you a unique experience, an amazing sensory journey!  (And you can feel good about it too!)

 

http://thevespr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thevespr?fref=ts

HOURS:
Sun-Sat: 7am-10pm
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Coffee shops in Norfolk

CureLatte

I used to think coffee was disgusting, honestly.  How on Earth could someone drink that stuff?  Over the years, I’ve even managed to drink straight black coffee.  I just love going to coffee shops.  Sit down, relax, and just hang out.  I have compiled my top 3 favorite coffee shops in Norfolk, VA in no particular order.

 

ElliotFairgroundsInterior      ElliotFairGroundsTea

I remember coming here back in high school.  It’s been open since 2001 and it’s easy to see why it’s Norfolk oldest independent coffee shop.  It’s located in Ghent, off of Colley Avenue.  It’s got an awesome eclectic atmosphere.  They also host events so it’s a great place to check out what’s going on in the local area.  Nice selection of fair trade coffee, tea, and other tasty treats.  Now, there’s no credit card minimums.  Elliot’s Fair Grounds is also open later than some other places.

http://www.fairgroundscoffee.com/

Hours:

Sun: 8am-10pm
Mon-Thurs- 6am-11pm
Fri-Sat: 8am-11pm

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CafeStellaExterior     CafeStellaMacchiato

This awesome coffee shop has been opened for about 2 years now and I can’t believe I hadn’t been to it sooner.  Another great spot in Ghent.  The decor is a bit more feminine to me but still interesting.  I love the fact they roast their own coffee beans here.  Nice!  Also, Café Stella’s coffee is legit here.  I ordered a macchiato here and it’s a true macchiato.  Espresso with a dollop of foam.  Not the kind of macchiato you’d get elsewhere. *ahem*  Café Stella have a food menu which I heard was absolutely delicious.  A little bit more of a professional crowd I noticed here.  Outdoor seating is available.

CafeStellaInterior

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Stella/133694203381143?id=133694203381143&sk=info

Hours:

Sun: 9 am – 10 pm
Mon – Fri: 6:30 am – 10pm
Sat: 8am – 10 pm

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CureExterior   CureLatteSliceofHeaven

Cure is a cute little coffeehouse.  I love the openness of this place.  The vibe of this place is a “good different”, felt more hipster/younger to me.  I ordered the Crème Brûlée Latte (vanilla and caramel) and my friend got the Crazelnut Latte (caramel and hazelnut).  They have beer, wine, coffee, tea, sandwiches, sandwiches and other goodies.  All in all it’s a nice little spot to just hang out.

It’s a quick little walk from the Freemason stop on the Tide.  Awesome!

http://www.curenorfolk.com/           https://www.facebook.com/curenorfolk

HOURS:

Sun: 9am – 5pm
Mon – Thu: 7:30am – 9pm
Fri: 7:30am – 10pm
Sat: 9am – 10pm

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All three have their uniqueness and I encourage you to check them all out!  It’s always time for coffee! :)

Dolce Bakery & Cafe Kissimmee

DolceFreshBerryTart

DolceExteriorDolceMainDisplayI’ll be honest, I live in Kissimmee but when people ask what’s good to eat here, I usually reply “Nothing really.”  Not until I found Dolce Bakery & Cafe.  I can’t believe it’s been here 4 years and I’ve never noticed it!  It’s on Osceola Parkway near Old Dixie Highway.  It was a hidden for me, but fear not, the Feisty Foodist finds her way.

DolceInteriorI go inside and instantly, the display of pastries welcomes me.  OOOOOHHH….  It’s very bright in here.  Am I in Miami?  Modern decor, the amazing aroma of fresh coffee.  I’m looking at all the baked goods, everything looks great.   You know that kid in the candy store?  Yep, that’s how I’m feeling right now.  So many choices!  The staff is very friendly here and quite helpful as well.  My friend and I decide to each pick an item.  I’ve got to get some café con leche too.

DolceTartGuavaPastryCafeConLeche

My fresh fruit berry tart was AH-MAY-ZING!  What would I have done to make it better?  Nothing.  The crème pâtissière (pastry cream) was perfect and the pâte sucrée (sweet tart dough) was a beautiful golden color.  In general, I typically don’t eat all of the crust/dough (usually because it’s overbaked/too dry/bleh) but this tart was done just right.  The café con leche was good as well.  The guava and cheese pastry was tasty but not the best one I’ve ever had.  Still really enjoyable though.  I’m stuffed from lunch earlier or else I would have ordered more items!

DolceFreshBerryTart

Overall, this a great spot!  Indoor and outdoor seating is available.  For those not into sweets, there are other menu items such as salads, sandwiches and breakfast items.

 

http://www.dolce-usa.com/

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