How did Joffrey’s become the official coffee shop of Disney Parks?

Throughout the Disney Parks, Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company serves everything from simple iced teas to elaborate lattes.  (Photo: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company)

Throughout the Disney Parks, Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company serves everything from simple iced teas to elaborate lattes. (Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

On a Disney vacation, it takes a lot more than pixie dust to fuel us through those marathon theme park days. This is where caffeine comes in. Forget the grueling wait at Starbucks that rivals the line for Space Mountain, Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company is the Florida-based roasting company that now serves as the official coffee of Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney. Holiday Club.

Opened in 1984 in Tampa, Joffrey’s was one of the first specialty roasters in the state of Florida. Joffrey is sourced globally from highly trained growers, using only premium quality Arabica beans, an elite appellation that accounts for less than 10% of beans produced worldwide. His attention to detail and commitment to small-batch baking eventually traveled down I-4 to catch the attention of Disney executives.

It all started with (a phone call from) a mouse

Chris de Mezzo, Joffrey’s head roastmaster and CEO, has been with the company since 1986. With a fantastic story of his own, it was pure coincidence that led the former aluminum fabricator into the coffee business after losing his job due to the recession. Armed with his own tools, he toured how to work their unique coffee roaster – a relic from before World War II – in the then two-room business. His wife worked with him in the office as he spent his mornings baking and afternoons making deliveries to local shops and restaurants – until he got a life-changing phone call.

Chris de Mezzo in the 80s, using Joffrey's original coffee roaster.  (Photo: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company)

Chris de Mezzo in the 80s, using Joffrey’s original coffee roaster. (Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

A Disney chef had visited their cafe in Tampa and was so impressed with the product that he quietly began serving it at his signature restaurant at Walt Disney World. At the time, all Disney restaurants and dining areas were contracted to serve Nescafe coffee. After months of this arrangement, the mouse house finally called Joffrey’s in 1995 to make it official.

It was “absolute shock and awe,” explains de Mezzo, who was reluctant to take the call until his wife urged him it was legitimate.

“From day one, it was an experience,” de Mezzo tells Yahoo Life. “When I got that call that day my outfit was a t-shirt, cut off jean shorts and high top trainers. I had a clean shirt and tie that I had gotten for Christmas from my wife and daughter. “

De Mezzo arrived at the first Disney meeting wearing that very tie—a meeting that happened to include the Road Runner and other Warner Bros. characters. A big faux pas, but still, it ended up impressing Disney executives.

One of Joffrey's many locations in Epcot.  (Photo: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company)

One of Joffrey’s many locations in Epcot. (Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

The relationship begins

The first Joffrey’s location at Walt Disney World would soon open at their water park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. The installation was a lesson in itself, as de Mezzo himself had to work through the night, away from day visitors, as he maneuvered the U-Haul truck containing the coffee cart through the winding paths of the water park. Hopes were high and no one knew what to expect from the trial period, but sales quickly proved promising.

“Thank God it went well,” says de Mezzo, “because they expected us to make a certain amount of revenue and we blew their expectations which allowed us to start our second trial.” The second Joffrey location would open at Disney World’s other water park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

Making it official

In 2012 Joffrey’s became the official coffee of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Vacation Club. It now operates dozens of locations across all Disney properties in the US

This means that if you consume coffee anywhere in the Disney parks or on Disney property, with the exception of Starbucks locations, you are drinking Joffrey’s coffee.

Many Disney Parks visitors consider it

Many visitors to the Disney Parks consider “coffee and the castle” a must on any visit. (Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

Despite the success, Joffrey’s still maintains its headquarters in Tampa, where all of Disney’s coffee is roasted, while an operations team works out of Epcot. Joffrey’s recently opened a flagship location in Midtown Tampa, its first location outside of Disney property in years.

As part of this partnership with Disney, Joffrey works directly with Disney chefs to create custom blends exclusively at in-park locations, signature restaurants and resorts. With more than 25 Disney specialty coffee collection blends, offerings range in both profile and flavor to satisfy every type of java lover.

A mix for every Disney location

Disney’s Riviera Resort was the first of the Disney properties to introduce its own resort blend, highlighted in the luxurious Le Petit Café. De Mezzo says he has had recent conversations with the teams at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Steakhouse 71 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort to explore upcoming exclusive property partnerships.

“One of the unique things about Joffrey’s is that we’re not a small roaster, but we’re not a mega-roaster either,” de Mezzo points out. “We are able to make these unique blends for all of the signature restaurants on the property, where each signature restaurant has its own custom blend tailored to either its menu or dessert offerings.

During the design stage, Mezzo sits down with the culinary team and chefs to discover which flavors would be complementary to the location’s menu mix. Mezzo’s favorite mix? The bright and fruity flavors of their Kenya variety. The sharpness of Joffrey’s Grilled Kenya can be enjoyed at Disney World’s Sanaa restaurant and it serves as a perfect finishing touch to their eclectic menu.

Mickey Mouse latte art is available at many Joffrey locations in Disney parks and properties.  (Photo: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company)

Mickey Mouse latte art is available at many Joffrey locations in Disney parks and properties. (Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

One of Joffrey’s most popular coffees, the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Blend offers traditional dark roast flavors with a smooth, lighter finish. “We pride ourselves on being able to make dark roasted coffee, but retain its natural sweetness without a trace of bitterness or astringency.” de Mezzo shares.

One of Joffrey’s most interesting concoctions is served at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Embracing the theme of conservation, Joffrey’s Coffee Alto Mayo Forest Protected supports a project based in Peru that trains local coffee farmers in alternative farming techniques and sustainable coffee cultivation, ultimately helping to protect forests.

Seasonal offerings, such as those found during Epcot’s international food festivals, and exclusive locations, including the Mission to S’more Latte served at its stand next to Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park, continued to be popular with park visitors.

What’s next?

What does the future hold for Disney and Joffrey’s? “I am very fortunate to have been able to work with some very talented chefs and creative people on their beverage innovation team,” shares de Mezzo. It features Disneyland’s recent inventive cold brew creations, including a selection at Star Wars-themed Oga’s Canteen and a horchata latte, as collaborative recipes that have gotten him fired up.

De Mezzo and his wife continue to work out of Joffrey’s offices in Tampa, except these days, if Disney calls, there’s no hesitation on his behalf.

You can make some magic at home with these recipes for the popular Disney Parks Joffrey coffee drinks.

Round Em’ Up latte-inspired coffee at home

Actual Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land

(Photo: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company)

(Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

Components:

Garnish:

Preparation:

  1. Fill the serving glass full of ice.

  2. Pour the ingredients into the serving glass in the order listed.

  3. Pour the mixture into the mixing bowl, mix and put back into the serving glass.

  4. Add the garnish and serve.

Homemade Shakin’ Cold Brew inspired by Jamaica

A fan favorite, available at many Joffrey locations

(Photo: Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company)

(Photo: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company)

  • Jamaica Me Crazy Cold Brew Kit, single dose pod

  • Place the pod in a glass or container

  • Steep pod in 6 ounces water (cold or room temperature)

  • Cover

  • Refrigerate for at least 18 hours (can be thinned if desired)

  • Add milk, sugar, cream or your favorite syrup to taste

  • Enjoy

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