The time-honored and all-too-familiar commercial gets it partially right. The best part of waking up is coffee in your cup. Whether you sip solo at your kitchen table, enjoy the view from your porch or like most of us, fill a travel mug and head to the office, there is something comforting about receiving that first caffeine jolt of the day delivered in the form of a silky warm liquid that can be prepared in an almost infinite number of days.

Of course, early risers, students and other folks who have free time during the day might make time to order a special cup from a local coffee shop and relax and hang out for a while. Like those famed customers of Central Perk on “Friends” showed us, community is sometimes built around coffee, rather than alcoholic beverages. Coffee shops aren’t just where you pick up a beverage and a sweet treat – they provide places for people to socialize, work, listen to music, admire art, and simply relax and enjoy a respite from the outside world.

We talked with a few Golden Isles coffee shop owners about the ins and outs of their spots – who congregates there, what the recommended beverage is and if bites are served, the best ones on the menu. Pour yourself a cup, put up your feet and enjoy the tour.

Daddy Cate’s

Daddy Cate’s will have been occupying its cozy space on Gloucester Street, in Brunswick, for 20 years on July 2.

Make yourself at home

“We have a good mix of both locals and tourists,” said manager Nichole Fiveash. “The Brunswick Landing Marina brings in a lot of new friends. Our locals have become regulars and good friends over the years.”

Those regulars include a “coffee crew” that comes every morning, who Fiveash says they love, and a lot of Glynn Academy students who stop by every day.

"We make our shop feel like home, and that’s our secret,” she said.

Favorite bites

“Our customers love everything, but our breakfast sandwiches and jumbo muffins are staples and pair great with our drip coffee or our honey badger latte,” Fiveash said.

For lunch? The chicken salad rules.

Drink of choice

“Our drip coffee is amazing, and we also serve it chilled as iced coffee,” she said.

Fiveash also recommends the honey badger latte, a honey-cinnamon and vanilla latte, which she calls a “crowd pleaser.”

Wake Up Coffee Co.

Wake Up Coffee Co. opened in October 2009 in Redfern Village. Owner and founder, Bo Mann, said that store has moved to Aviator Plaza on Demere Road, on St. Simons Island, and the company has three other locations – a drive-thru at 4506 Altama Ave., a café at 3349 Cypress Mill Road, and a small shop in the bookstore at College of Coastal Georgia, all in Brunswick. The company’s Roastery is also on St. Simons Island, but is open only for manufacturing and private events.

Make yourself at home

“Our stores really bring in a good mixture of both locals and tourists,” Mann said. “We’ve seen a huge influx of tourists since our move to Aviator (Plaza), but locals are what keep us going.

“We’ve had some of the same regular customers since … 2009. They’re like family at this point.”

He’s not kidding. Customers bring staff gifts for holidays and to celebrate major life events like marriages, the births of children and other important milestones.

It’s also a place where groups gather.

“We have lots of regulars who are ‘remote’ workers, social groups, Bible studies, book clubs, college students – we even have have a mahjong group,” he said.”

The secret to Wake Up’s popularity is its people, Mann said. As regulars or even frequent tourists know, chances are the staff knows your name, your drink order and even your dog’s name.

"We’re a people shop that loves coffee,” he said.

“People and relationships are our priority and the coffee is the vehicle we use to facilitate our mission.”

Favorite bites

Wake Up has mostly limited its menu options to pastries, waffles and sweet treats, but this summer, more savory options will be offered.

"We’ve also partnered with Dulce Dough recently, and we have their donuts on the shelves," Mann said. “People love their stuff, especially paired with great coffee. We love the Dulce crew and all they’re doing."

Drink of choice

Iced coffee. Mann says it’s a huge hit, whether people drink it black or made with Wake Up’s house-made syrups and sauces.

“Iced coffee is a fan favorite, especially this time of year,” he said. “Our signature beverages – the Island Mocha (coconut, chocolate, espresso, milk) and the Turtle Mocha (caramel, chocolate, espresso, milk) – are always two of the most popular items as well.

Mann’s recommendation comes with a bit of a confession.

“As much as we’re people-focused, we’re big coffee nerds too,” he said. “As a roaster, we’re passionate about great quality specialty coffee …”

Mann personally always recommends trying Wake Up’s black coffee, its espresso and a sweet drink with homemade sauces as well.

“It’s all good,” he said. “We put a lot of effort into crafting fantastic beverages with a lot of care and love.”

Jittery Joe’s

Jittery Joe’s, in business for a little over a year, is the new kid on the block, so to speak. But it’s no stranger to University of Georgia fans who frequent Athens regularly. On St. Simons Island, Jittery Joe’s can be found sharing space with Righton Books, an independent bookseller owned by Anne and Darryl Peck, in Redfern Village.

According to the company website, Jittery Joe’s was founded in 1994, in Athens, near the legendary 40 Watt Club. The unique name comes from an episode of “The Simpsons” aired shortly after Jittery Joe’s opened that parodied the movie “Thelma and Louise.” In that episode of “The Simpsons,” Marge goes to a diner named Jittery Joe’s. The coffee company’s founders did a national name search, discovered the name wasn’t copyrighted and obtained a federal trademark. The rest is history, and the chain now has 25 locations in and around Athens.

Make yourself at home

Darryl Peck says the café attracts a solid mix of both locals and tourists, and a good many folks regularly gather for morning coffee.

Favorite bites

No food is prepared on site, but an array of pastry items are served.

“Our most popular are macarons, scones, muffins and cookies, all of which are baked locally at Village Oven, in Brunswick,” he said.

Drink of choice

“Lattes are always our most popular, followed by our delicious cold brew,” Peck said. “Customers are always raving about our chai as well.”

Palm Coast

Coffee, Café + Pub

Situated in a quaint, but picturesque cottage in the St. Simons Pier Village, Palm Coast oozes charm with its café tables and flowers on the outside, its small but welcoming porch and its cozy interior. In business for 14 years, it’s consistently a favorite breakfast, snack and lunch spot.

Make yourself at home

A haven for both tourists and locals, many customers bring their dogs as well to enjoy the outdoor ambience. When visiting, you’ll find a mixture of people who gather for morning coffee, tourists passing through and folks furiously typing on their laptops while working remotely. Laura Cooper, the manager, said the café’s success is a result of its fresh food and great staff.

Favorite bites

For breakfast, Cooper recommends the Huevos Esplendido, Back Home Sandwich and Egg White Morning. For lunch, her choices are three popular sandwiches – the Garden Veggie, Chicken Salad and Mahi. “We also have a great selection of cakes, breads and muffins,” she said.

Drink of choice

Cooper has two recommendations – The Funky Monkey Mocha with chocolate, caramel, banana, espresso, and milk topped with whipped cream; and the Beach White Mocha, which features white chocolate, coconut, espresso and milk topped with whipped cream.

The Cottage

Custard + Coffee

The Cottage is another island newcomer, and celebrated its first anniversary on April 23.

Make yourself at home

The Cottage is in the remodeled Wesley Cottage at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. It’s now an on-the-go breakfast spot and a place to pick up a frosty treat, including frozen custard delights.

“One of our goals for The Cottage and a core value of The King and Prince Resort is to provide value to our community as well as our guests,” said Bart Johnson, general manager of the resort. “This has ensured popularity for The Cottage from both customer groups.”

Those groups are locals who are able to walk or bike to the shop, as well as resort guests.

“The space is an efficient counter service setup, but has also created a nice atmosphere for those who wish to sit and stay a while,” he said.

Favorite bites

Johnson recommends the Royal Feast Sundae, presented in a giant sand bucket and serving four to six people. The sand bucket and shovel are souvenirs. Other customer favorites are house-made muffins, scones, and the chicken sausage sandwich, made with smoked Gouda cheese and sausage on a toasted brioche bun..

Drink of choice

Johnsons lauds the resort’s Royal Blend Coffee, The King and Prince’s specialty blend, roasted by Wake Up Coffee Co. exclusively for the resort. It is also served at ECHO and can be purchased by the bag at The Cottage.

He also recommends two espresso-based drinks. One is the Caramel Macchiato – espresso shots, caramel sauce and milk, and the other is Affogato – espresso with either vanilla or chocolate custard swirled in.



The Jekyll Island Club has had a coffee shop since it opened in 1986, but it was rebranded as The Pantry in 2017.

“The Pantry has had several names, but has always been a safe haven for hungry visitors throughout the years,” said Patty Henning, director of sales at the resort.

Make yourself at home

Henning says The Pantry attracts a mix of locals, tourists and Jekyll Island Authority employees, who have offices nearby.

“The Pantry is one of the most popular restaurants on the island with both locals and tourists,” she said. “(Its) friendly menu of salads and sandwiches, desserts and custom coffees appeals to everyone.”

People appreciate the stress-free and easy choices, and the veranda seating, in the midst of the historic architecture and natural surroundings is a bonus.

Favorite bites

Henning says the Caprese Panini and The Pantry Club are two customer favorites. The Caprese Panini is served on soft ciabatta bread and is a twist on the classic Italian salad.

“The Pantry Club is as big as your head,” she said. “ … it’s perfect for sharing –then you have room for dessert.”

A sleeper hit has been the Shrimp Salad Sandwich, she added

Drink of choice

Henning said the most popular coffee drink is the vanilla latte, but there are a variety of flavors for guests to choose from, including some sugar-free options.

“My personal coffee order is a black iced coffee with sugar free caramel, but when I’m in the mood to change it up, the Iced Mocha is amazing during a hot summer day,” Henning said. “Plus a key lime pie – I simply cannot resist.”



The Westin Café, inside The Westin Jekyll Island, has an enviable spot. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent to Jekyll Island’s bustling village area, it’s a mecca for guests craving a beachfront cup of joe.

Make yourself at home

The bulk of The Westin Café’s customers are from out of town.

“(They’re) mostly hotel guests and convention center visitors,” said Shannon Devlin, food and beverage director at the hotel.

Those who do gather for morning coffee – even if they are transient – appreciate the outdoor seating and spectacular views, Devlin said, along with the familiarity of a national brand on the premises.

“We are the only coffee shop on Jekyll Island that serves Starbucks brand coffee and some of their specialty drinks,”

Favorite bites

The café serves a variety of made-to-order breakfast sandwiches and berry parfaits, which offers guests the choice for a quick, healthy breakfast, ideal for people on-the-go.

Drink of choice

Devlin recommends the assortment of cappuccinos and frapucinos offered on The Café’s menu.

“(And) coming soon, Boba tea,” she said. Boba tea (or bubble tea) originated in the early 1980s in Taiwan. It features tea, and chewy tapioca balls, along with milk, sugar and other flavorings.