Food

Catch the Drift!: Drift Cafe brings the flavors of summer to Newport

I’m getting sick of reaching for my metallic pink puffy coat and trudging outside in the freezing, blustery breezes to return overdue library books and pick up groceries (my current discovery, shiritaki noodles!). I’m dying for warmer days where I can sit in Queen Anne Square, people watch and read Shakespeare’s As You Like It for the 20th time (cast me as Celia, you cowards!). We won’t see warm days for a while, but what if I told you that the perfect island getaway was hidden in plain sight in downtown Newport?

Drift Cafe is an unassuming coffeehouse located in the heart of Newport’s bustling business district. I walked by the subterranean spot more than a few times before I finally noticed its cheerful white and orange awning, but it’s quickly become one of my fave destinations. Owners Rob and Samantha DePaola have a long history of work in the food industry. They managed a restaurant in the Virgin Islands, and Rob also served as the manager for neighboring eatery The Surf Club. It’s easy to see where Drift’s easygoing island vibe comes from! The couple opened Drift in summer 2020, and even in the midst of a global pandemic, joyfully provide a sunshiny oasis.

Feast your eyes on the hand-painted menu chock full of culinary creations, like the Spicy Bird, a Buffalo chicken-inspired egg scramble complete with a made-from-scratch paleo Buffalo sauce and bleu cheese that’ll provide the wake-up jolt you surely need on a dull winter morning. Late risers, don’t worry! Breakfast is served all day, and I have been known to make a lunch of their delish Sweet Potato Hash, topped with two perfectly poached eggs and roasted local spuds. Yum!

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Drift also offers a variety of smoothie bowls that act as a wondrous antidote to the New England winter doldrums. The Matcha Bowl is green ‘n’ glowing with a delightfully earthy flavor sweetened by organic strawberries, crunchy chia seeds and a sprinkling of coconut flakes, while the Sunset Bowl is a berrylicious take on the popular Acai Bowl, topped with house made granola.

Drift Cafe is known for their java, and they source it from Necessary Coffee, a specialty roaster based out of Lancaster, Penn. The resulting small batch brews are intensely dark and flavorful, and as an iced coffee drinker even in the most frozen months of the year, I appreciate that their cold brew is not watery or diluted at all. You seriously have to try one of their handcrafted syrups to spice up your drink — the cookie dough and coconut cream flavors are particularly appealing and add a lovely dessert=inspired twist to an ordinary cup of joe. 

Drift Cafe will make you feel like you’re relaxing on an island in the sun. Settle into one of their swing chairs and take a selfie under the “Coffee n’ Chill” neon sign, and you’ll feel like you’re on a beach holiday, even if the temps outside prove otherwise.

Drift Cafe: 190 A Thames Street, Newport. driftnewport.com; @driftcafenpt

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