Not all cups of joe are created equal. This is especially true for Doug Page, a passionate barista and owner of Wild Bear Coffee in Tavares.
The self-described "hot beverage enthusiast" painstakingly selects and roasts his single-origin beans from South America, Africa and Central America. As a result his downtown location is part indie coffee bar and part premium caffeine dispensary.
Page's palette was refined in culinary school, and it shows in his passion for coffee. Unlike national chains, Wild Bear roasts its own beans and offers only made-to-order coffee using a pour-over method. This ensures the integrity of the beans’ flavor and results in a rich, smooth coffee without any trace of burnt bitterness.
Page, dubbed a 'coffee savant' by his friends, began roasting coffee beans in his popcorn popper as a hobby. Eventually, he forked over the money for the real deal and began selling his coffee beans in farmers markets in 2015.
Quickly gaining a following, he set up a roasting location in Tavares before opening his new coffee bar at 123 E. Main St., downtown. Wild Bear also has commercial accounts like Goblin Market restaurant in neighboring Mount Dora, as well as loyal and faithful followers.
"I like it because it doesn't have that bite to it. It's delicious and the service is friendly," said Jessica, a regular Wild Bear customer.
It's perhaps the only area coffee bar that serves both cold-press brew and Swiss water-processed decaf. To someone who is perfectly fine with a cup of gas station coffee, this is hardly impressive, but it's a big deal to hard-core coffee connoisseurs.
Try the gingerbread latte, bourbon caramel macchiato or dirty chai latte. Purists will love the smooth and intense flavor of any of the pour-over brews.
The Wild Bear also sells paraphernalia for hard-to-please coffee snobs. Enthusiasts can choose from pour-over Chemex coffee makers, cold brew coffee kits, grinders, presses, and one-pound bags of freshly roasted beans. On weekends, Wild Bear offers freshly made Joy Donuts, the decadent cake donuts, and sells them out early. Wild Bear Coffee's hours can be irregular so call ahead to be sure they are open.
Mount Dora's main attraction during the holidays is no doubt its holiday lights. However, downtown businesses are attracting onlookers again this season with their creative window displays.
The creative eye-candy includes everything from dresses with Christmas trees as skirts, mischievious elves, sleighs, deer, flip flops, wooden pallets, menorahs, and plenty of twinkling lights.
Impartial judges recently strolled the quaint streets of downtown to select their favorites in two categories for the annual Mount Dora Holiday WIndow Competition. The winners are:
"BEST WINDOW" WINNERS:
LOVE HOME HARMONY The is the first year for this new home decor store participated in the competition and they rocked it. The window boxes and conceptual use of upcycled pallets to create wooden Christmas trees is original and out-of-the-box. (120 E. 4th Avenue)
MATAMO DESIGNS This store decorated its series of large windows with warm, traditional displays featuring upside down Christmas trees and Interesting accents tucked in every nook. (100 E. 5th Avenue)
most whimsical window winner:
Home & Garden Treasures Elves create havoc in this store's window while they hang from airplanes, flying pigs and anything they can get their little hands on. It definitely brings a smile to passersby. (403 N. Donnelly Street)
The Wow Factory: The store is packed inside and out with humorous novelties, so it’s only fitting their window humored the judges with its selection of fun products in the window.. 117 E. 4th Avneue)
Maybe it's their famous burritos, bold interior or flaming hot sauce bar. Whatever the secret ingredient, residents have been clamouring for the opening the new Tijuana Flats in Eustis.
Monday they will get their wish. The vibrant, Tex-Mex restaurant will open its doors on U.S. 441 to the public on December 12 at 11 a.m. and celebrate by offering free burritos to the first fifty guests.
The fast-casual restaurant chain has 124 locations nationally and 74 in Florida and boasts hormone-free chicken, freshly cooked beans made from scratch and zero trans fats.
“We are thrilled for the grand opening of Tijuana Flats,” said Economic Development Director Tom Carrino. “The quality of tenants this project has attracted displays the strength of the Eustis economy and is evidence of strong market demand in the area. Many of these businesses, like Tijuana Flats, Panera Bread and Aldi, are unique to the area and will offer our residents and community some great shopping and dining options.”
The Eustis location has already filled its 35 to 40 job positions. Tijuana Flats is located at 17475 U.S. Highway 441 in Eustis across from Target. For more new restaurant openings and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, 'like' theMount Dora Buzz Facebook page and download its free mobile app.