It sure is hot out there! And if you’re a coffeeholic like myself, then what better way to cool off while at South Padre Island than an iced coffee? Although there are many establishments serving a cup of joe at South Padre, I wanted to get the local scoop so I decided to get some help by posting my inquiry on the very popular “South Padre Concierge” Facebook page. The response was fast, furious, and unanimous, and so I decided to visit the top 5 establishments.
World Flavors – Coffee House
World Flavors is perhaps South Padre’s most exclusive place for the serious coffee aficionado. It’s for those that know the unique taste, aroma, and flavor only gourmet coffee can offer.
Owner, and South Padre’s Top Barista, Tony, learned the coffee ropes while traveling through tons of different coffee loving and coffee producing countries. While reading through the menu offerings and checking the place out, I couldn’t help but notice the steady stream of locals coming in and out. In fact, many were shouting out their order just as soon as they’d open the door. All I kept hearing was, “Give me the usual”!
To my surprise, Tony and Isabel (the other house Barista) recognized each and every customer, catering to each one by memorizing their individual preferences. When my turn came up, I was ready to order, and knew exactly just what to say – “Please give me the most popular house iced coffee…the locals’ favorite”. There was an intimidatingly long pause before Tony sternly replied, “There is NO such thing”.
Wait. What? As I stood there a bit nervously, he began to hit me with questions like – “Do you like plain java or…? Sweet or…? Strong blend?”. He was like a kind of Dr. Coffee, diagnosing the patient and then analyzing the cure.
After answering the steady stream of questions, Tony finally served me an incredibly tasty Iced Americano. The taste was pure gourmet coffee…but on the rocks. Next Tony decided (on his own) that I should try the Cafe Nutella. He was like a living Juan Valdez…right again. It was “love at first sip”. I became an instant fan of the sweet, nutty, and creamy specialty.
Just as I was about to leave I saw something extraordinarily special going on at the counter. Tony was like a musician and it was show time. He proceeded to prepare a beautiful jar of Cafe Macchiato. It was layer upon layer of gourmet coffee erupting like a volcano. Sadly I didn’t get to try it, but I recognized this as another one of the house specialties.
Believe you me, if you enjoy gourmet coffee, then I can assure you World Flavors Coffee House is the place for you.
The Grapevine Cafe & Coffeehouse
This establishment is well known to the locals and tourists for its delicious breakfast offerings. Yes indeed, The Grapevine Cafe & Coffeehouse serves some of the best darn brew on the Island, but just be aware that the food and joe is soooo good, you’re going to have to wait a bit. Especially during breakfast hours. But believe me the service is worth the wait.
After just a couple of minutes, I’m escorted to my table. There’s something so enchanting and fun about coming inside this loud, busy, boisterous eatery. Luckily, I’m fortunate to be helped by the manager, and in-house barista Gino, who not only suggests the house favorites, but also prepares them himself.
I am talking literally preparing it from scratch. From selecting the beans (Island Native Dark Blend from Fair Trade), to grinding them, the love and commitment definitely pays off. The results are a delicious Iced White Chocolate Mocha and a Vanilla Bean Frappé. Both were superbly savory, rich in flavor, and neither was too sweet. Undoubtedly, the quality of the ingredients manifest with every sip… just perfect I must say!
I think I ought to mention that my personal favorite was the Vanilla Bean Frappé. Its flavor just took the cake! I also loved the ginormous mason jars that added character to the environment as well as the friendly service.
Everyone knows this Island icon is a great place for breakfast and to be seen at. But who knows about Yummies’ spectacular iced coffees? Coached by Ernie, the on-duty manager, I went for the gold with the Banana Chocolate Cooler (a meal in itself), and my companion settled on the Cookies N Cream Frappé. Let me tell you, the Banana Chocolate Cooler was not only beautiful, but was amazingly cold, just as its name suggests. However, the Cookies N Cream wasn’t too far behind as it was so chocolaty and creamy. And with the current Heat Wave sweeping through the area, both were very effective in cooling down all systems.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that even that even though I deliberately visited Yummies between breakfast and lunch, on a weekday mind you, the place was still packed wall to wall. Even the outside terrace was occupied. So just be prepared to wait, but it’s definitely worth it!
Prepare to slurp!
Even though the Causeway Cafe is located on Port Isabel, just before hitting Queen Isabella Causeway, it still has become one of the Islander’s favorites. The great modern bistro setting is magnificent, even providing an amazing view of the Lighthouse and the traffic going towards SPI. Here, one of the Baristas help me decide, and so I went with the Cookies & Cream Frappé.
The first thoughts that came to my mind were – Decadent. Sinful. Extreme Chocolate Cacao Nirvana! The frappé was so gorgeously rich with a delightfully creamy with texture.
And just a tip…. you are going to need a spoon.
After slowly enjoying the last morsel, I am sad to say there was no more room to try on anything else. However, the locals swear by Causeway Cafe’s Banana Foster. Also, if you worried about parking, there is ample space on the side and easy access to Queen Isabella thru the lateral street
Make sure to keep an eye out for their new South Padre Island location opening soon on the north end of the island.
Groovi Smoothi – Coffee Shop
Located on the second story terrace of Island Fitness (blink and you miss), Groovi Smoothi is a great place to stay away from Padre’s bustling main drag. Whether you want to get some reading in, work, or you just need a quiet setting for yourself, Groovi Smoothi is the place to go. Many of the next door gym users get their fix right after a workout and the serving bar provides for a very comfy seating arrangement.
After visiting with the owner/barista for a bit I ordered a regular Espresso made with high quality beans (Ruta Maya 100% organic). The taste and aroma were enough evidence I needed to provide testimony that these are quality beans. It is important to note that Groovi Smoothi prides itself in only using distilled water of the highest quality gradient and Organic Coffee.
A Final Thought
The History of Coffee begins in the Middle East and dates as far back as the 10th century. Traditional to many cultures in the world is the afternoon “cafecito”. On one level it is simply about having a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up, but truly when you understand the meaning of “cafecito”, you will come to realize that it is a much more important social activity and daily routine that involves gathering with close friends, family, and even co-workers, to enjoy a small moment of peace and happiness with them. Or considering today’s hectic world, even conducting business while having some good old caffeine can give this old tradition a new meaning.
Last, but not least, I’d like to offer you a couple bonus life hacks. If you are a straight up habitual regular coffee kind of guy, then I think you should know that there are no rules impeding you from icing any coffee – specialty flavored or not. Whether at home, or while you’re out and about handling business, icing is doable, but the one important factor is to get good quality distilled or purified ice, free of fridge smells or aromas. So next time you hit your favorite café, give icing a try by requesting a side glass full of ice together with your coffee.
Also, for those that of you that love any of the Espresso varieties, remember to clean your palate with sips of cold water.
Just remember guys. Everything in moderation.