What the heck is Florida-core? No, it’s not the latest wave of Ska Punk (which is also happening right now and is very good), it’s an aesthetic, a lifestyle. It’s cool pinks and blues, soft pastels that give the oceanside vibe that can only come from the Sunshine State. It’s a beachside existence that can truly only be experienced as a child of Margaritaville. And frankly, it’s pretty rad.
To see Florida-core in action, we’re heading to the northeastern tip of the state, to Jacksonville, to check out Tetherball Coffee. Blending a soft color palate with a can-do attitude, Tetherball’s Elias Jeppesen built the new cafe space from the ground up and is making new-school accommodations for old-school coffee drinkers. The result is a playful, inviting space for anyone on any part of their specialty coffee journey. So let’s go down to Jacksonville and get a taste of Florida-core at Tetherball Coffee.
As told to Sprudge by Elias Jeppesen.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Tetherball is by and for DIY creators. We’re bright, colorful, and focused on giving others the tools to succeed. From the floors to the ceilings, Tetherball was knocked down and built up through grit and determination. Started by one broke barista (Elias) who learned through working the industry, traveling the states, and asking questions. We’ve done a transparent weekly blog on our site the whole time, inspired by the lack of good comprehensive books on the process, and surplus baby baristas who want to open a cafe. We wanted to be there visibly doing it ourselves, and in turn we’re now giving our favorite neighborhood in NE Florida a beautiful pink/blue Florida-core workspace.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The space is 600 square feet and started pretty much unusable, but since it was in an awesome area and the rough build meant cheap rent, we leveled it and started over. From there we designed the space in a free 3D modeler, and had an architect translate it to paper. Then we spoke to GCs about what we could do legally ourselves and did all that with them in tandem! Pretty much everything you see visually was done by me and Google, following a sick retro Florida schoolyard brand Bible! We’ve got soft gym class floors and plush light blue seats that actually support your feet/back/butt. We’ve got canvas paintings and cloth menus, cut, sewn, and painted by hand. It feels good to be in here, and we’re stoked to pull the window covers down to flush it in sunlight. It’s done, we’re just wading through red tape.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Make specialty fun, easy, and a little weird! Florida is full of weird people that want “regular coffee.” I gotta meet ’em halfway. We’ve got this simple short cloth menu full of fantastic stuff. Our iced coffee is cold brewed, double filtered, kegged, and steeped with nitrogen but it’s not called nitro cold brew. It’s got a regular keg lid and spout so it looks and tastes like good iced coffee. Our London Fog is called “Go fish” and advertised as a “southern sweet tea latte,” so I can share this awesome underrated drink with the everyday southerner. Specialty in our area kind of hates whip cream right now, but the locals don’t, I’m making a rich pudding-thick vanilla whipped cream to put on everything, because whipped cream is fun! Etc! Bring people great fun drinks with specialty quality!
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
I’m working with what I like from bar experience, and what others in the industry have told me I’ve gotta try. I’ve got the La Marzocco Linea classic two-group AV, I’ve got a little two-keg kegerator. I’ve got a FETCO brewer, and some hand pour setups for rotating beans. An Anfim Scody II for espresso my buddy recommended, the Mahlkönig Guatemala because it’s a beast and the EK43s are these huge, ugly, overrated things that take up crazy space IMO haha. I’ve worked in mass production kitchens at a brewery, so I’m all about hella cambros, stainless steel, and clean white plastic.
How is your project considering sustainability?
As much as I love Topo Chico and other soda’s/seltzers getting popular with espresso in the industry, bottled bevs are a huge eco-waste. We have a kegerator so we’re making our own seltzer, and while specialty as a whole starts carrying kegerators it seems like draft>bottles would be a good path forward. Other than that we’re a pretty tiny build, so we’re keeping our footprint sensibly small.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Early June 2022!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
My boyfriend Dakota went full time this year tattooing and helped with a lot of the painting. This time last year my friend Mike Csorba helped us put the brand bible together and we’ve used a lot of it since. My friend Jesse helped design and paint the mural of the girl jumping. They’re all, wonderful powerful creative people.