Water Witch Coffee
Water Witch coffeehouse offers great eats, the arts, community and camaraderie
By Elana Knopp
The moment you walk into Water Witch Coffee, you know you’ve entered a place like no other.
Located on Waterwitch Ave. in Highlands, the homey and artsy coffeehouse is a popular meeting place for locals and others who have discovered the unique eatery where people come for delicious coffee, spectacular food and homemade pastries, and good conversation.
The coffee house has also become a popular gathering for artists, musicians, writers, and poets who come to showcase their art during Water Watch’s many music jams, art showings, and open mic nights.
Owner Valerie Browning, who took ownership of the eatery and coffeehouse about two-and-a-half years ago, said that she set out to make the shop a welcoming environment for everyone, a safe haven where her customers can enjoy good food, creative expression, and true camaraderie.
“Everyone is welcome,” Browning told JerseyShoreVibe. “It’s a very pleasant environment to be in.”
With its eclectic collection of art, vintage novelty items, collectible antique bottles and jars, an upright piano and a basket full of instruments, license plates and cool signage all over the walls, Water Witch is a place where people tend to linger and soak up the surroundings.
“I always wanted to have a coffee house,” Browning said, who has experience in the restaurant industry, as well as a background in the arts.
A former resident of Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, known by many as a mecca for great food, Browning worked both there and on the Upper West Side.
All items on the menu, minus the bagels brought in fresh from Brooklyn, are made on premises by chef
Kenny Harbor, who is famous for his freshly baked array of pastries, Danishes, croissants, and more—all baked on premises.
“Kenny does the cooking and baking,” Browning said of the well-known chef and baker. “His soups are crazy. He’ll come up with crazy concoctions like pheasant and champagne soup.”
Menu items include a variety of crepes filled with things like spinach and goat cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and Nutella and banana. Traditional favorites include bacon, egg and cheese on a croissant, muffin, or bagel, breakfast burritos, a variety of soups served with homemade bagel chips, and much more.
Coffee selections include spectacular blends like Sea Salt Caramel Press, a smooth and delightful blend of salted espresso with caramel and steamed milk, “Krankyccino,” a blend of two shots of espresso with frothed skim milk, a variety of flavored lattes, cappuccino, cold brews, a variety of iced drinks, teas, and more.
“Everybody raves about the coffee,” Browning said.
Smoothies are a huge hit at Water Witch as well, with some popular flavors like “Kick in the Banana,” a racy blend of espresso, banana, peanut butter, and almond milk, and “Gary’s Green Addiction,” which combines spinach, pineapple, banana, fresh orange juice, and milk.
According to Browning, Water Witch attracts people from all walks of life, many of whom enjoy the eclectic array of art throughout the shop.
“It’s become an art gallery,” Browning said, who says that a full calendar of art shows are already booked for next year. “I’m working to bring art into the community.”
Each exhibit is on display for about two or three months, said Browning, with many of the art pieces on display sold. "I’ve always been involved in art,” said Browning, who was a music major in college. “It’s
really grown. A lot of artists contact me.”
Browning, who works with the Monmouth County Arts Council, said that she looks for interesting works to bring into Water Witch.
“I look for cool pieces,” she said. “A lot of artists also create shows just for the shop. It’s very cool to see people creating because they know they have a space to go to.”
Browning said that individual musicians and bands have filmed music videos at her shop as well.
But what Browning enjoys most is her customers that she is now proud to call friends.
“There’s a community feel here,” Browning said. “I know everybody’s name. We have quite the characters that come in. The one rule I have is that you don’t judge anyone and that everyone is kind.”
Visit Water Witch Coffee at 67 Waterwitch Ave., Highlands or at http://www.waterwitchcoffee.com/ or call 732-784-8486