Downtown Credo (Photo: Rafael Tongol)
Sultry Orlando summers don’t exactly stir up images of steamy cups of coffee. And yet, organic, fair-trade coffee is in high demand year-round throughout Orlando’s bungalow neighborhoods, like College Park and Audubon Park.
Combine Orlando’s love of a good cup of Joe with a growing bike-friendliness and you’ve got Orlando Bike Tour’s Coffee Crawl. As founder of Orlando Bike Tours, Sarah Peerani wanted to give riders a recurring coffee-sipping adventure, along with other themed rides that change from month to month.
Jimmy Sherfey and Sarah Peerani (Photo: Courtesy Sarah Peerani)
“Orlando Bike Tours lets people see Orlando the way I get to experience it on a daily basis — vibrant, supportive, fun and engaging,” Peerani says. “It’s great for locals to check out different neighborhoods around town, and it encourages tourists to come explore what’s east of I-4.”
Peerani has enlisted coffee journalist and guide Jimmy Sherfey to help showcase this side of Orlando, often only associated with Disney.
Sherfey writes at the popular specialty coffee blog Abeja de Café (Spanish for the coffee bee) and has a long-standing interest in quality coffee and coffee education. Having traveled to Central and South America in search of great coffee, Peerani felt he was more than qualified to lead a tour of coffee enthusiasts.
“I had been bugging everyone in Orlando about coffee education … and I guess collectively they decided to throw me a bone,” he says. “Sarah Peerani is so boss; she’s pretty much Orlando’s matriarch of fun.”
And so the inaugural coffee crawl was born.
Lineage Coffee Roasting (Photo: Rafael Tongol)
Bike the Tour de Café
The first stop: local favorite Downtown Credo, a not-for-profit known for its unique donation-based business model. The shop is a hub of connectivity among locals looking to work remotely for the day or learn about fairly traded brews. Due to rising success, Downtown Credo just opened a second location at Florida Hospital’s SunRail stop.
At Lineage Coffee Roasting, riders learned about sustainable brewing from roaster Jarrett Johnson, and got to experience the highly trafficked East End Market. Lineage Coffee Roasting is known for bringing consumers closer to the source of their coffee and providing quality Colombian roasts. The highly favored pour-over coffee (which Sherfey admits is his favorite) is not to be missed.
Finally, riders got to enjoy small-batch brew from Blacksmith Brew Works, a mobile coffee company headed by Ross Smith with organic roasts and a bevy of expertise. On the tour, this brew was hosted by Orlando newcomer Propagation, a coffeehouse boutique gaining popularity for its mid-century furniture (which can be purchased) and unique decor on Mills 50.
Barnies Coffee Kitchen (Photo: Rafael Tongol)
“The bikes allowed everybody to slow down and take in the scenery,” Sherfey says. “College Park, Mills 50 and Audubon Park, all have such beautiful plant life, streets, art, buildings and lakes. Because we were soaking in everything, I think people were able to actually taste what good coffee has to offer, and they were open to information about origin and some of the nuances you don’t always get in a specialty shop because there is a long line or the barista is too pretentious.”
Where Coffee Meets Culture
To the naked eye, the coffee culture running rampant throughout Orlando may not be immediately apparent, but java lovers on the local scene notice a tangible expansion. The Orlando Bike Tour highlighted popular coffee stops within a bike-riding distance, but as Peerani points out, there are plenty of artisanal coffeehouses sprinkled throughout Orlando.
Vespr (Photo: Rafael Tongol)
Namely, Barnies Coffee Kitchen on Park Avenue in Winter Park or Vespr Coffee in East Orlando near UCF, or even the art gallery turned open mic night tea and coffeehouse Sleeping Moon Cafe in often-overlooked Casselberry.
The point? Orlandoans are experiencing a very real coffee culture renaissance.
“The stickiness of quick, cheap, sugary habits of the past I feel is the biggest hurdle for any city hoping to build a craft coffee culture,” Sherfey says. “But Orlando definitely has the potential to grow into something like a San Francisco, Portland or Seattle when it comes to coffee.”
The details: Be sure to check the Orlando Bike Tours site, or its Facebook page, for future coffee-themed bike tours, generally scheduled in the fall though spring. The tour covers a range of local roasters and lasts from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The cost for riders who bring their own bike and pay in advance is $15, and as part of the tour, riders enjoy a five to six ounce pour at each stop. For those visiting Orlando, the bike tour has a Share-a-Bike program ($20 or $25 day of) as part of Orlando’s new bike share initiative.