Ask Tampanians which coffee shop & espresso bar has been in Tampa the longest and I’ll bet not many would name Jet City Espresso, which first opened here 26 years ago.
What makes it unique:
- Opened 9 years before Starbucks came to FL
- Only organic, fair trade coffees used
- You’re served by the owner
Signature product: Jet City Cafe Borgia
Jet City Espresso is an authentic rendition of the type of small coffee shops that Seattle is famous for. The name, Jet City, is one of Seattle’s nicknames (because Boeing headquarters are there). It is a walk-up, to-go shop located in a historic 1908 home that also offers an airbnb suite.
Patrons enter the shop after walking through a garden of outdoor furniture and up the steps to the covered porch, where there is more seating. The cafe itself is an intimate space devoted to serving you coffee, smoothies, and an assortment of baked goods to suit many needs.
Jessica Conlan, the owner of Jet City Espresso, was neither surprised nor disappointed when I told her that I found her store almost by accident, even though I was searching online for Tampa’s best coffee shops. She says that her customers are meant to find it.
Jessica lived in Seattle during the major growth phase of the coffee culture there. She opened over 20 cafes and shops in the “80’s and 90’s. She became both a trainer and coffee business coach, helping many of those startups grow and succeed.
She also studied and worked in roasting for years, broadening her knowledge and love of coffee. Her depth of experience allows Jessica to select the best roasters and the right roast for a specific product.
Jessica is not building an empire. She has had five Jet City locations in Tampa in two incarnations. She built up three locations between 1995 and 1999 and then sold them when her husband had a job transfer.
Two transfers later, she was back in Tampa and opened the current location in 2009. Jessica had a second location in Seminole Heights for six years, which included a restaurant, wine bar, and espresso bar. Two years ago, she decided to focus on one location and sold the Seminole Heights store.
Today she is happily creating a lifestyle business for herself in Hyde Park, doing what she loves. When you come to her counter, you are a guest in her home.
Both espresso purists and those seeking a sweet concoction will find satisfying flavors at Jet City. Artists and musicians will also find a kindred spirit in Jessica. Who knows, you might just bump into a local celebrity, too.
Enjoy your visit and tell me about it in the comments below!
Indoor seating? No
Food service? Yes, breakfast and lunch
Whole beans for sale? Yes
Also a roaster? No
Location: 318 S. Edison Ave., Tampa, FL 33606
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