by The Great Foodini

Coffee…just the word inspires images of an oversized ceramic cup filled three quarters full with an impossibly dark steamy liquid that immediately gives me life just from the smell.

There is nothing I like to do more while I am writing foodini column entries than to sip down a ceramic jug of black liquid go juice.

Coffee fuels so much of what I do, but it has also become a cultural waypoint for me as well. I determine a lot about a community by its coffee shops. Are there local spots ran by families who care about the folks around them or is there a corporate franchise churning out drinks for the faceless masses?

Luckily for the MS Gulf Coast, a local family-ran coffee shop is not only a good investment, but it is also a sign of a restructured and rebounded economy after the storm.

I am going to point out about half of the great spots to relax in from East to West. If I failed to include your favorite spot, be sure to call and give Hunter Dawkins as much grief as you can. Maybe if there is enough call for it, we will do a review on the other half later.

The Grind – Cedar Lake

This is the epitome of a coffee house in the Northwest. Plenty of windows to let light in, a stone fireplace for those chilly days and a full-service coffee bar that serves all your favorites. What sets the Grind apart from the others is that is satisfies my craving for Panera. The Grind (mostly) satisfies my Panera craving with fresh-made wraps, salads and sandwiches so I don’t have to drive all the way to Slidell or Mobile. My personal favorite sandwich is the Blackened Turkey BLT, which is a mouth-watering creation piled with blackened turkey slathered with chipotle Gouda cheese, bacon, shredded lettuce and fresh slices of tomato on Sourdough. Other customer favorite sandwiches are the BBQ chicken, chicken and bacon, Kathy’s Kickin’ Reuben and the Mediterranean Chicken

Bank House – Long Beach

Situated in a rustic old bank (the beans are literally stored in a vault). The exposed brick interior and the tiny hexagon mosaic tiles remind me of the movie “Batteries Not Included”. This coffee house has character. It could easily be the setting in a show or a movie. Atmosphere aside, this coffeehouse is filled with the staples you would find anywhere else. On a hot day, the Bank House Crème is the way to go. It is a cold brew with whole milk and homemade vanilla flavoring. A frozen matcha is also a wonderful accoutrement to a sunny broiling day. For those foggy moody days in Long Beach, a London Fog Latte soothes the soul and settles you in for a calm and relaxing day.

Cat Island Coffee House – The Pass

Cat Island Coffee House is absolutely a stunning location that provides solace on either sunny or rainy/foggy days on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Curling up with a good book and a good cup of java is almost every sane person’s way to unwind, relax and destress. I can’t imagine a better place to do this other than Cat Island. This place has more than your delectable coffees and teas. They feature some amazing lunch items. One of the best salads you can get on the coast is right here.

Mockingbird Café – BSL

Just a couple of blocks off of the beach in Old Town Bay St. Louis sits a café that is part coffee shop, part eatery, but mostly just a place of peace and comfort. Coined, the living room of the Bay with its comfy atmosphere and family-like attitude, patrons can hang out on the porch and have a hearty breakfast or lunch while slurping down a myriad of caffeinated or carbonated delicacies.

Eventually I will write another one of these because there are so many options. In the spirit of saving space, I will have a part two of this article in the future. In the meanwhile, I will go more in-depth occasionally with the venues listed here.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments at (228)224-6781 or