River Road Coffee and Popsicles delivers high-quality coffee and love to its community.
The world practically runs on caffeine. And many prefer their caffeine in the form of a morning cup of coffee, an afternoon latte or at post-dinner espresso. To meet this increasing demand, independent stores have popped up everywhere across the country, and more and more people are investing money into their own homebrew methods. But, whether you’re great with a Chemex or have your own milk pitcher, it’s still nice to go out and enjoy a craft cup of coffee at a local shop. This ability to spend hours upon hours in a coffee shop each week was something Elizabeth Fiegle, owner of River Road Coffee and Popsicles, loved most about her college years.
“I fell in love with coffee in college,” Fiegle shares. “I lived up in Mississippi and there was a local coffee shop up there called ‘Cups,’ and they probably own 5 or 6 different locations now, but it’s very much the same feel we have [at River Road].
“It was a comfort to me, with also really great coffee,” she continues.
Like most who are in college, coffee became her lifeline and it was at this time when Fiegle was able to learn more about the art of coffee. She learned about pour-over methods, and the differences between lattes and cappuccinos, and her love for both the taste and the craft became a passion that motivated her as she navigated life after college. Of course, when moving back to the Space Coast, she was worried about the lack of coffee culture.
“There were so many local shops [in Mississippi],” Fiegle shares, “And they were really on a renaissance of putting in more and more local businesses and reviving the small businesses in the area that had died out. So, when I was moving back here, I was like, ‘okay, there’s no coffee there, there is just a Starbucks,’ and that hurts!
“I literally had my sister sending me coffee from my shops up [in Mississippi].”
Though she had never been a barista, she knew she loved coffee and wanted to work in the industry but getting her foot in the door was initially a bit of a challenge. After she moved back home, she applied to a few different local shops, as well as different Starbucks locations, but no one got back to her. Finally, once Bold Cup announced its opening in Viera, she reached out and secured a job, and it was there where she learned, not only more of the artistic side (latte art, brew methods, etc.) but also the administrative and financial sides of owning your own business.
“My first shift – the first time I was ever officially a barista – I was like, ‘okay, there is nothing else I want to do, I love this so much,’” she shares.
“It was a year and half of honing in skills, doing a lot of research on coffee and how to make it the best and how to pour latte art and what combinations work really well, observing what people like and don’t like … it was a long year of studying and observing a lot.”
As she delved deep into her love of coffee, she realized the only option left for her was to open her own shop. She began looking and when she found her current location, she knew it was the one. She shared that, luckily, the rent was in an affordable range, and she had an easy time finding the right furniture and the proper machinery, passing her health inspection and, most importantly, finding the right group of baristas.
When talking about her now shop she says, “I couldn’t have made it better if I had built it from the ground up. It was a ‘too good to be true’ type of deal.
“When you think about building a small business, everybody says, ‘don’t do it, it’s a lot of work, you have to commit your whole life to it,’ which it is so true, I’m here every day and I’m committed to it … but at the same time, I really do feel like I was in a passenger’s seat and things were just working. Even just doing all the logistical stuff with putting everything into place, I’ve never really met a wall … I didn’t expect that when I started out with the business,” she continues.
River Road is a beautiful, spacious shop with wooden tables, comfortable couches and art on the walls. The art, as well as the merchandise, are all created by local artists, and customers are invited to appreciate (and buy) the art when they visit. And, with so many rooms, you’re invited to spend the afternoon working or studying – like Fiegle did at Cups when she lived in Mississippi – or come and catch up with a loved one.
“The whole point of doing this was not necessarily to open a business but more so to provide a space for community to happen, using coffee and popsicles as the thing,” Fiegle shares.
And, this community is built, not only through the friendly atmosphere and rooms of comfortable seating, but through the shop’s partnerships and events. Customers can enjoy workshops, learn more about brew methods (with beans roasted from a local roaster), visit Sarah’s Flower Truck and enjoy live music nights. Fiegle has truly made it a point to do whatever she can to support the local talent on the Space Coast.
“As much as I preach ‘support local,’ I really want to live that out,” says Fiegle. “So, our produce is local, our roaster is local, or tea is from Tampa so it’s as local as Florida can be, and I really do try and keep [everything at the shop] as local as possible, even if it means it costs a little more.”
When asked about her favorite part of the job thus far she said, “Meeting all of the people and watching my baristas grow organically and get along and really just seeing them function together. They have taken this as their own and have really owned it all together, which has just been the greatest thing to watch … and just seeing life happen here and seeing the community take us in has been such a gift.”
9 Rosa L Jones Dr, Cocoa, FL 32922
Facebook: River Road Coffee and Popsicles
As a Space Coast native, Sara enjoys using her love of writing to speak directly to the community that raised her. She graduated from Florida State University with a B.A. in English, and has written for a variety of magazines; however, her love for publishing and writing developed as a young girl, when she received her first copy of Teen Vogue. When she isn't writing or at work, she is traveling around the state with friends, visiting coffee shops, going to live shows and brushing up on her photography skills. Follow her on Instagram or connect with her on LinkedIn.