My passion for coffee began at age seventeen, when, on a camping trip, I couldn’t find my usual drink – tea – and was forced to drink coffee. Sipping from an enamelware blue speckled mug, gathered around an open fire, coffee was comforting and relaxing.

Throughout life, coffee has been like a best friend – while sipping a mug of Americano enjoying a dreamsicle sunset on my favorite beach, iced lattes with friends in a café, in the midst of a misty rain on the front porch with a cappuccino in hand, during chemotherapy treatments, and all the adventures with my husband and goofy dogs to discover new beaches and coffeehouses.

Sunset while heading to the Drift Coffee & Kitchen in North Carolina.

Now when planning vacations, I check to ensure there’s a top-rated coffee house along the route, and at our destinations.

In a big city, typically you’ll find at least six or seven cafes from which to choose. But how do you narrow it down to just one?

Here’s how I select a superb coffeehouse…


Ensure the location of the coffeehouse is no more than a fifteen-minute detour from your route or you may get into a heated discussion with your partner about wasting time. (chuckle)


Bella Surf Cafe in Maui, Hawaii

Browse the photos on the café’s website and social media pages. Is it a cool place with a chill vibe? What are their coffee selections on their menu? Are they selling mainly coffee beverages and products?


I’ll be honest, I usually don’t look at reviews below a 4.4 on Trip Advisor or Google. I’ll read about ten to twenty reviews, and then make my choice. If I hear that the coffee is great, but someone couldn’t find a parking space nearby, I disregard the latter. 

Latte Art

Latte foam art from Drift Coffee & Kitchen

Normally if the photos of the latte art are outstanding and exquisite, typically the baristas are the best at creating a smooth and velvety coffee drink.  Swans, Rosetta vines, dolphins, hearts, swirls, four-leaf clovers – I love the latte art!

Local Roaster or Uses a Local Roaster

If the café’s webpage has a blurb or a paragraph on roasting methods or local roasters used, I give them another positive checkmark in my mind.

If all these components fall into place, I usually end up with one or two excellent coffeehouses along my route.

Honestly, I’ve only gone wrong once or twice in all my travels and adventures.  And then, the coffee was still above average.


One coffeehouse that ranks in my all-time favorites is ‘The Drift’ (Drift Coffee & Kitchen) in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina that we used to visit with our dogs. They create the most mellow buttery vanilla lattes you can imagine. The café is the basis for my poem of the same name, “The Drift”, from my new book, Coffee Coma – poems & photos about our love affair & life with coffee.

Sabrina (Pretty Dog) & Bordeaux (Red Dog) on the way to the Drift Coffee & Kitchen
Listen to “The Drift” by Sheree K. Nielson


Tails wag. 

Furrows billow.

Red Dog and Pretty Dog

sniff narcissus,

pungent sea air,

and the scent of vacation

from the open window.

Crossing the connection

from mainland to island,

they eye


white ibis,

peppery-headed wood storks

side-stepping in marsh shallows.

The aroma of caffeine concoctions

entices, like a genie in a bottle,

to climb a timbered stairway

and enter a surf-inspired café – 

The Drift.

With soulful convincing eyes, 

balancing on hind legs, 

canine discerning palettes beg…

the last bits of a dulcet delight –

a cappuccino milkshake.

Tongues lap like ladles

calibrating trickles

of the creamy elixir

concealed in the cup’s crannies.

Coffee-flavored licks,

even sloppy kisses,

all free


the humans.

The Drift.

By Sheree K. Nielsen

“The Drift” is a tribute to Bordeaux (aka Red Dog) who passed July 31, 2021, due to congestive heart failure. He lived with chemodectoma (a tumor) in his heart for two years. Bordeaux was the most loving, fun, inquisitive, happy dog.

Bordeaux (Red Dog) enjoying “the last bits of a dulcet delight – a cappuccino milkshake”.

Unfortunately, his stepsister, Sabrina, a vibrant mini-Aussie passed away just six weeks later on September 7, attributed to neurological issues and dementia. Every day, Sheree reinforced how pretty, smart and lovable Sabrina was, and how happy that she was a part of the family.


I’ve found that coffee is around no matter the weather, location, or situation – even during my chemotherapy treatments for Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia lymphoma. My sense of taste was impaired for up to ten days after treatments. So, you can imagine how happy I was on the eleventh day after…I’d rush right out to a local coffeehouse.

A constant in our lives, coffee is present more often than we imagine. Introduced to me as a young toddler, Granny added a wee bit of coffee to my milk and sugar. Today, my manx cat loves to snuggle when I have my morning coffee and sniff the roast’s aroma.

I’ve met so many people through coffee – on vacation, in writer’s groups, on social media, chatting in cafes. And I just couldn’t end this story without naming my favorite coffeehouses in the index of my book.

Someone once said,

“Not all who wander are lost, they’re just looking for good coffee”.

I believe that to be true!

Peace, Love and Coffee


Sheree K. Nielsen believes that every picture tells a story, combining her love of photography and writing with colorful visual descriptions and healing messages found in her poetry, coffee table books, essay collections, and children’s books. She finds inspiration in travel, nature, pets, and food…especially coffee! As a Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia lymphoma survivor, she believes in cherishing every minute of life.

Coffee Coma – poems and photographs about her love affair and life with coffee, was published August 10, 2021, by Shanti Arts Publishing in Maine. The book takes you on a journey through life with coffee. No matter the weather, situation or location, coffee is there like a good friend.

Sheree is Author/Photographer/Poet of 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winner, Mondays in October (love songs for the beach) with First Place in Poetry, Fine Art and Photography, and Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books. She is also the 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner for Folly Beach Dances (inspired by the sea and her lymphoma journey), Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Category Winner and Montaigne Medal Finalist in 2019 Midnight the One-Eyed Cat (a picture book: coauthor), and Chanticleer 2019 Finalist Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets

Her other works are well represented in many travel magazines and publications.

When not writing about her love for coffee in Coffee Coma, she’s discovering new beaches and cafes with her husband. Five content cats complete her family. 

Connect with her at Sheree’s Warm Fuzzies