2236 E. Co Hwy 30A
Seaside, FL 32459
Seaside is, in a word, cute. A quaint little beach town bursting with character and local pride isn’t exactly the spot you’d expect to find one of my favorite shops in the country. As I described in my Best of 2015 post, Amavida was a pleasant surprise revealing itself with an assortment of local products, a wide range of coffee offerings, and a Steampunk brewer.
Amavida offers among the widest range of drinks and coffee origins I have ever seen in a shop. Many of the shops I have been to streamline their offerings in order to provide a more consistent experience. It makes sense, if you only offer 6-8 drinks you simplify the moving parts and can offer a greater degree of consistency. Amavida ignores this philosophy. In my visits, I’ve been able to have two or three different drinks every time and I’ve consistently been impressed.
Part of the reason Amavida’s coffee stands out is their usage of a primarily African blend for their espresso. The Ethiopian heavy blend gives their drinks a bright flavor full of fruitiness while maintaining the balanced profile of a blend that I’ve found to be unique.
I take two points off here because I do feel the wide range of offerings does impact quality to a degree. I’ve had a lot of coffee here. Most of it was good, but there were one or two cups from the slow bar offerings that were just ok. Additionally while the African heavy espresso was great on its own, I feel that the milk flavors overpowered it in larger drinks.
Amavida chose the perfect location for their shop in a strip of ocean front shops. Surrounded by specialty shops, an open air craft market, and a line of Airstreams turned food trucks, the area is a vacation destination with a dedicated following of tourists who provide the area with a constant bustle of activity. Amavida offers a line of local goods in addition to their coffee bringing a healthy dose of local flavor into their aesthetic. The shop itself is small but in an area like this the coffee is meant to be enjoyed while exploring. If people watching in the Florida sun is more your style, there is a simple patio set just off the main thoroughfare for the venue.
What really makes the area special is the level of care that goes into every shop in town. When I visited Seaside for the first time, I expected a generic Gulf Coast tourist trap. What I found instead was a village of artisans and curators of specialty goods who took pride in their work. The care they put into their craft accompanied by the Florida sun and sounds of the surf on the sand give this place an idyllic feel.
I’ve had a bit of mixed interactions with the staff here. Generally they’ve been quite pleasant but when I try to get a little deeper into their thoughts about the business I’ve gotten a little push back. I’d write this up to tourist fatigue but I was still a little annoyed to be brushed aside initially. Once I explained that I worked in the Houston coffee scene and was planning on opening up my own shop they loosened up and gave me the rundown. On my first visit I was able to talk with one of the owners who was working on the espresso machine which was an awesome insight. I’ve been a Steampunk fanboy since the machine was introduced, but after talking with the owner I learned that they aren’t a cost effective option in a shop doing high volume. While this isn’t important information for most people I really appreciated the peak behind the curtain.
If you happen to find yourself in Panama City Beach there are two other Amavida locations in the city. Unfortunately, locations don’t quite hold up to the standard set by this beachfront shop. What really sells this place is the atmosphere created by the town itself so I’d say take the hour drive out to Seaside to experience this spot for yourself.