A funny thing happened this morning. I stepped into Starbucks for my normal coffee and saw a stack of green coffee cups. Could it be? No… Not yet… Could it?
Yes—green cups! Okay, they’re not quite the bold red cups of years past, but the arrival of the Starbucks holiday cup is a constant reminder that Christmas is rapidly approaching. We all have little reminders and traditions when it comes to the holidays or even your Walt Disney World vacation. For instance, Starbucks is a solid indicator for me.
Ever since I made the jump from a media agency to in-house at a retailer, I’ve grown accustomed to working on Black Friday. How do I get around this? I start with the optimism that Christmas is just a few short weeks away. Then I add a Venti Starbucks Christmas Blend, with a shot of espresso, shot of peppermint and a shot of sugar-free mocha, served in a token holiday-themed cup. It starts my own personal unofficial start to the Christmas season and starts the final countdown to my Disney vacation.
For years, Disney served watered-down, weak coffee. The running joke of “starting your morning with brown water” from a Disney food court made coffee drinkers like myself cringe. As a result, when I would land at Orlando International Airport, I’d head to Starbucks for my last good cup of coffee. That was until 2013, when Disney started serving Starbucks at the parks and Joffrey’s became the official coffee served at the resorts.
Of course, the commercialization was met with some criticism. Disney sacrificed the beloved Main Street Bakery, a staple at Magic Kingdom and home to some of the most delectable treats, to bring in better coffee. The gigantic cinnamon roll was gone. Sure, there have been imitators introduced over the last few years, but nothing will ever compete with the original.
ANYWAY—can you tell I’m dramatic about my coffee? Long story short, up until a few years ago, coffee fans were forced to drink a tasteless, weak, watered-down excuse for coffee within Disney’s food courts and Quick Services. Joffrey’s was only available at select kiosks and Table Service restaurants. In 2013, Disney brought in Starbucks and made Joffrey’s the official coffee supplier of Walt Disney World, serving it throughout all resort food courts and Quick Services. But it doesn’t stop there. Disney continued to bolster its caffeine collection within the parks and resorts. So if you’re heading to Walt Disney World and, like me, can’t start (or finish) your day without a fresh-brewed cup of Joe’, here are some of my recommendations:
Kona Blend at Kona Cafe, Polynesian
Okay, so it’s not actual, 100% Kona coffee. Because of the rarity and price of Kona coffee—coffee cultivated from the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, not coffee from Kona Cafe—many retailers sell “Kona blends.” The “Kona blend” sold at Kona is made by Joffrey’s, which successfully blends the Kona beans with mild Central American beans to enhance the naturally fruity overtones. It’s a nice pick-me-up that’s best paired with a huge slice of Tonga Toast.
The Kona Blend is served in a French press pot and can easily be split between two people. It’s one of my favorite coffees on property. Those not fortunate enough to score an ADR at Kona Cafe can swing by the Kona Island Coffee Bar. Pair a cup with a Macadamia Nut Cinnamon Roll!
Ethiopian Blend, Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma is one of my favorite restaurants. Unfortunately, my family doesn’t quite enjoy African flavors as much as I do, so it’s only once every few years that we’re fortunate enough to head over there. Once I finish stuffing my stomach with the different soups, meats and salads, I turn my attention to the sprawling dessert section. Before doing so, though, I place an order for coffee.
Ethiopian blends—true, authentic Ethiopian blends—are robust and offer complex flavor profiles due to the coffee being wildly grown. There’s fruity and floral notes, accompanied by a flagrant-rich and full-bodied flavor. I normally drink my coffee very dark (just a splash of skim) but this is one cup I drink black to really explore the flavors.
Contemporary Grounds, Contemporary Resort
One of the lesser-known spots located in the Contemporary Resort, Contemporary Grounds is serving up all your favorite coffee drinks: lattes, mochas, iced coffees, hot coffees and more. There’s rarely a long line, making it a great spot for a quick coffee fix. Pair a hot coffee with a large “Homer donut.”
Java Bar, Swan Hotel
I had to add the Java Bar, as it’s the one location within walking distance serving up something other than Starbucks or Joffrey’s. Java Bar happily serves Lavazza Coffee. Lavazza Coffee is an Italian blend, which offers a strong, robust taste of rich chocolate flavors.
My sister and I stopped by here last year before driving back to Tampa. I was really surprised to see them serve ice coffee from a tap! Just a really cool experience and the iced coffee was delicious and naturally sweet.
Tipsy Duck in Love, Joy of Tea—China Pavilion, EPCOT
My absolute favorite coffee drink is at Joy of Tea in the China Pavilion. I can’t go a trip without one and now that I’ll be staying at Beach Club, I just may make my way over to EPCOT for a morning pick-me-up. Hey, it’s vacation!
Joy of Tea combines creamy cold iced coffee, black tea, bourbon and chocolate, then tops it with whipped cream. Now, don’t watch them make it. Don’t do it. I was excited to try it. I kept thinking “wow, I wonder what kind of bourbon they use in China!” Then the Cast Member poured Jim Beam and topped it with Reddi-Whip and the magic was killed. Nope, just order one, look away, then sip away at this authentic Chinese creation.
The taste is reminiscent of a Black Russian. There’s also a non-alcoholic version available. Trust me, this is seriously good.
Moorish Coffee, Tangierine Cafe—Morocco Pavilion, EPCOT
It’s time to show Morocco some love. Seriously, how many of you have actually stopped in Morocco? I’m guilty of passing it right by on my way to France or Japan. The sad thing is, Morocco is one of the better themed pavilions at EPCOT. It’s really wonderfully decorated and has a ton of hidden details.
Tangierine Cafe is gorgeous inside. It’s filled with beautiful lighting fixtures and colored and stained glass windows. The tile work is outstanding. It truly feels like you’ve been transported to an exotic location. But, you don’t have to go far for a great cup of coffee. Tangierine Cafe is serving up some of the better coffee on property—and, it’s presented beautifully. If an alcoholic iced coffee from China isn’t your thing, then you may wanna try the Kasbah Coffee, a hot moroccan coffee with hazelnut liqueur. This is real coffee, with a bold taste and slightly bitter, the hazelnut liqueur adds a nice sweet element. For a non-alcoholic drink, I recommend the Moorish coffee, which is flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg—it tastes like Christmas in a cup!
Kusafiri Coffee Shop
Truthfully, we never quite spend enough time at Animal Kingdom to need coffee. We usually head to the park after breakfast. The one time we did have coffee within the park was when we ate at Tusker House. On our quest to check out the colossal cinnamon roll, I just had to grab a coffee, as well.
Kusafiri serves up some speciality coffees that pair well with its selection of pastries and treats. While the cinnamon roll was good, this year I’m opting for an elephant ear.
I know, I know—the commercialization of Walt Disney World. The beloved cinnamon roll at Main Street Bakery died for our coffee sins! I was as upset as you were! I still do let out a little sniffle whenever I step inside the former Main Street Bakery.
However, I’m happy that Disney brought in good coffee. Now, I’m usually a plan coffee kind of guy. Seldom do I put anything other than a splash of skim and cinnamon into my coffee. But, nothing quite beats sitting on Main Street watching Holiday Wishes and sipping a huge peppermint mocha.