Longtime coffee shop at Lake Ella retains its charm and laid-back appeal
The geese are honking. The view is of tranquil Lake Ella. And the aroma is of fresh-brewed coffee. It’s no wonder regulars have been coming to Black Dog Cafe for decades to gather with friends, often bringing canine companions with them to chill under the sun.
Problem is, it’s not always sunny. Outdoor seating had been limited due to the whims of the weather, but the deck has been rebuilt. Owner Carla Reid also added a roof, “which has been a dream for a long time,” she said. New landscaping is another improvement.
Step inside and the shop is small, cozy and funky, with a play area for kids, shelves of board games and a board covered with flyers.
A Florida State University graduate, Carla opened Black Dog Cafe 25 years ago, naming the cozy nook after her cocker spaniel Faydris.
Black Dog is primarily a coffee shop, but Reid offers a limited menu that features vegan muffins, vegan curry lentil and sweet potato black bean hand pies and cakes made by the local Three Sons Bakery. You’ll also find maamouls made with Israeli dates and walnuts made by Yoche and Israel Artzi. The couple sells their homegrown organic vegetables, baked goods and falafel sandwiches through their business Pita Queen, located at Lake Ella and the Community Co-Op Market
The cafe serves frozen treats, homemade hummus and delectable bagel melts — pesto, tomato and provolone or Canadian bacon and cheese — plus croissants. Allow about 15-20 minutes for the melts and croissants.
For a quick snack to start the day, we paired delicious carrot bran and blueberry muffins with a cup of coffee. Among beverages, enjoy fresh lemonade or several coffee concoctions, including The Honey Bee latte, made with the cafe’s own honey, and fun combos like The Crazy Cat Lady brew.
A version of this article first appeared in Florida Politics.
Black Dog Cafe is at 229 Lake Ella Dr.; 850-224-2518. Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Here are a few more pictures of Black Dog Cafe.