Some of the things that can turn a bad day upside down include a freshly made pastry, wholesome service, and a really good cup of coffee.
To my surprise, MG Coffee Brews & Bites has been offering all three in DeBary since 2016.
This combination coffee shop and bakery, at 168 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd. (U.S. Highway 17-92), delivers an experience comparable to that of a European bakery, with a wide selection of sweets, sandwiches and organic coffee creations.
“MG” stands for Marina Nagy and Garth John, the wife-and-husband co-owners. They started their culinary venture in early 2016 in Hallandale Beach. There, they baked items and offered coffee at farmers markets around the area, under the name MG Coffee & Beyond.
After six months, they decided it was time to set up a permanent shop.
“We found a space for sale in DeBary, and every time we visited, we fell more in love with the area,” Marina said.
When you first walk through the door at MG, you’ll be greeted by the friendly faces of Marina and Garth, along with Stephanie Armon. There’s soft jazz playing in the background, and to the right of the counter are featured menu options.
Order anything to go, or sit down and stay awhile.
There are numerous menu options that may be unfamiliar to non-regulars. I found out that this is because Marina and Garth brought many of their own recipes to the restaurant, including items from cuisines common outside of the U.S.
Marina is originally from Hungary, and Garth is from Trinidad. Both of them grew up watching family members whip up traditional dishes, while also experimenting with their own new concoctions.
Garth’s father had his own Trinidadian bistro and ice-cream shop, which is still run by Garth’s sister in Trinidad.
“Garth and I still make some of the foods our relatives did,” Marina said. “When Garth is making the spicy cheese for the Spicy Chicken Roll, he always thinks back to his grandmother, and feels like he is still in touch with his roots.”
Garth’s other specialties include various beautifully prepared sandwiches, which make for an ideal lunch. Move over Jeff Mauro — Garth is the new “Sandwich King.”
In fact, Garth’s sandwiches are what helped inspire the couple’s foodie endeavors.
“Garth would make me sandwiches for lunch, and I would think ‘Wow, this is really good!’” Marina told me, as I watched Garth prepare his signature grilled-salami-and-Swiss on a fluffy ciabatta roll. It almost looked too good to eat.
After perusing the menu, I started with a Viennese iced coffee. Marina explained that, overseas, when you order an iced coffee, you’re served a Viennese iced coffee.
The difference? It comes with an added scoop of ice cream, freshly made whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate on top. I think I could get used to that.
Another European touch the duo have incorporated is a small glass of sparkling water served with every coffee. The purpose is to cleanse your palate before eating afterward.
At MG, you’re able to choose from among their seven regular coffee-bean options, or the special coffee bean of the month.
All the coffee is organically grown overseas, with the beans roasted in North Carolina by a company Garth and Marina selected after extensive taste-testing.
“We picked this particular roaster because the coffee tasted the best,” Marina said.
The coffee indeed tasted exquisite.
MG regular Kayce Looper echoed this sentiment.
“I have not found better coffee anywhere else!” she said.
A specialty of Marina’s is her Hungarian cheesecake. It’s offered in two flavors: peach or berry. To my delight, the berry was available and freshly made, as is nearly everything on the menu.
The charm of the bakery is that not all menu items are offered every day, allowing you to try something new with each visit. However, if your heart’s set on an item and you’re willing to call ahead, Marina would be happy to prepare it for you.
Other notable menu items include gluten-free cakes and other desserts, which are alternated daily.
The “Dirty Lemonade” and “Twisted Java” are two drinks that are sure to become favorites. Dirty Lemonade (perfect for hot summer days) contains delicious freshly squeezed lemonade with muddled strawberries and blueberries; you can order it iced or frozen.
Twisted Java, one of Garth’s own recipes, is the perfect mixture of espresso, lemonade and coffee ice cubes. It’s suggested by the maestro himself that you sip slowly, without the worry of your coffee getting watered down.
MG Coffee Brews & Bites also offers catering for any occasion, as well as specialty cakes and wedding cakes.
If you’re near DeBary and running low on energy, or need a sugar fix or a tasty lunch, remember MG.
You may soon find yourself among the regulars.